Sleuthing Grand Prix
I thought I was a fan of Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix, but I must admit I’m a rank amateur compared to a group of commenters on Atlas F1’s Nostalgia Forum that have created one thread that digs deeply into the minutia of every scene, outtake, driver, and disguised model after disguised model to unearth a trove of information about every aspect of the film. Particularly impressive is a series of observations by forum member Macca, who pulled from his well of information of the Ferrari factory at the time to determine the very month that the film shot in the factory itself.
You’ll remember, that Sr. Manetta, the film’s stand-in for Enzo Ferrari, takes a meeting with driver Pete Aaron who is down on his luck after his crash with teammate Scott Stoddard leaves him dropped from his Jordan B.R.M. team. I know it’s difficult to keep straight the difference between actual teams and events and the fictional events of the film—which probably speaks more than any review could of how well the film has captured the spirit of mid-sixties Formula racing.
Macca did a little trainspotting in these scenes and noticed a few things about the cars and parts on the factory floor. The factory floor shows three neatly placed 36-valve engines. In the background, we see a 246P Dino bearing racing number 44. This car was given #44 for Giancarlo Baghetti to use in the practice sessions for the Italian GP. From this sparse information Macca, unbelievably, determined the scenes were shot at Maranello in September! Fantastic detective work!