Dropping the Flag at the 1960 Cuban GP

Formula Junior start at the 1960 Cuban Grand Prix

Formula Junior start at the 1960 Cuban Grand Prix

Castro had been sworn in as Prime Minister a year before but the transition to totalitarian regime was slow enough that there was still time for one last Cuban GP. A brief series of races for various classes was held between February 21 and 28, 1960. In a not-too-subtle metaphor for the nation as a whole, the race moved from the bustling and vibrant esplenade Malecón along Havana’s coast, to a closed runway of Columbia Military airport. What a marked transition that must have been for the diehard racing fans that stuck with it through the political transition.

Stirling Moss’ Birdcage Maserati took the win in the featured race. In this image of the Formula Junior event, Stanguellinis ruled the day; taking the first 9 positions. Which sounds incredibly impressive until you realize that they made up 73% of the field.

Via the Nostalgia Forum.

Stanguellinis at the 1950 Coppa d’Oro Dolomiti

Supremo Montanari's Stanguellini S1100 at the 1950 Coppa d'Oro Dolomiti

Those mountain vistas! I’ve grown so used to seeing wide runoff areas and flat(ish) topography that when I see these images of the Dolomite Mountains captured in the 1950 running of the Coppa d’Oro Dolomiti, I’m just dumbstruck. We always imaging switchback mountain roads and winding valley tarmac as perfect sportscar roads for a Sunday afternoon drive. It’s a shame that so few events still have this kind of scenery to look forward to. Even events like Pike’s Peak or the more mountainous legs of the WRC don’t seem to have peaks quite as sharp and romantic as the Dolomites. Of course, the Coppa d’Oro Dolomiti still runs (sort of) today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for bringing back these decidedly less forgiving runoff areas. But even more than small town street racing, I think the loss of this kind of combination of beautiful racing machines and breathtaking mountain roads is a tremendous loss.

Sergio Sighinolfi's Stanguellini S1100 at the 1950 Coppa d'Oro Dolomiti Just look at that shot of the 26-year-old Sergio Sighinolfi piloting the #123 Stanguellini 1100. He won his class, finished fourth overall, and beat the previous class course record by over four minutes. Those are just statistics. The fact that he did it in this kind of environment with this level of enchanting beauty and horrific danger around him is heroic. In just the same way, it’s one thing to DNF on the local track, it’s quite another to DNF in the Dolomites. That Supremo Montanari didn’t make to the finish in his outdated #111 Ermini-powered Stanguellini Sport Nazionale doesn’t make his running any less heroic. Twisting along these mountain roads and keeping your foot down is enough to earn my respect.

Am I forgetting about any contemporary events that are run in these kinds of environments? Let me know. I probably need to get more into hillclimbs.

Stanguellini Formula Jr on eBay

Stanguellini F Jr for sale

Stanguellini F Jr for saleYou don’t see Stanguellini Formula Juniors pop up on eBay very often. This 1959 example looks lovely. The car was restored in 2004 and has only had a handful of races in the time since.

My usual sources aren’t turning up specific race history for this chassis number but given the solid history of Stanguellini in FJr, there’s a strong chance that there’s some fun stories back there. While this example is unlikely to have any laps turned by well-known Stanguellini racers like Bandini or Von Tripps; with only a touch over a hundred of them made I suppose it’s possible. At least that’s what I would tell myself while I sat in this one in my garage, goggles strapped on and mouthing high revving Fiat 1100 noises.

There’s 6 Days left and reserve not met at $75K. More info on the lot detail page. As always, if it’s little and Italian, Cliff has details for you.

Via Etceterini’s Facebook Feed.

Sport or Monoposto?

Factories at Work: Stanguellini

The Stanguellini Workshop

Expectations and reality have this way of clashing spectacularly. I always have a dream, a fantastic notion of what something might be like. Then I’ll discover that the actuality of it is far more simple; far more ordinary.

This, though, is one of the thankful exceptions. This space is exactly what I imagine when I think of the etceterini workshops. Seeing a few gorgeous Stanguellinis in various stages of completion only makes the point that much more clear: This was no production line factory. This was hot-rodding.

The Stanguellini Workshop

The rough-hewn post and beam construction of the Stanguellini workshop is in many ways a perfect metaphor for this era of Italian sportscar manufacture. Its cleanliness and bare walls suggest practical engineering and luxurious, uncluttered design. The mottled walls and old stumps to panelbeat against remind us that it was no more sophisticated than a repurposed barn. I think one of the things that draws me to the barchettas of this period was that they so exemplify this perfect marriage of the engineer and the artisan in ways that larger manufacturers struggled to hang on to. They’ve got soul.

Thanks, Wheels of Italy.

Barchetta: Italian for Awesome.

Stanguellini BarchettaActually it means “little boat”; but still, have you ever seen a barchetta that wasn’t absolute beauty on wheels?

Take this 1949(!) Stanguellini Barchetta Sport Colli 1100 currently in the inventory of Digit Motorsport in Arizona. In a method that Carlo Abarth would perfect decades later, the car is based on a Fiat chassis with an 1100 cc Fiat motor—both heavily modified by the Stanguellini crew in Modena. This is a pure Mille Miglia machine, with FIA papers tracing it’s history all the way back to it’s 1948 build date.

While there doesn’t seem to be any specific provenance placing this car at the Mille or Targa Florio, it’s hard to imagine that it never competed in either. 1949 was, after all, very early in sportscar manufacturing. It may only make a whopping 60 horses, but I imagine the thrill is every bit as visceral as driving the latest from Lamborghini or Ferrari.

I fell in love with the barchettas fully and completely at this year’s Continental Grand Prix at Autobahn Country Club at the foot of a Siata 300 Barchetta. I could barely tear myself away from it. Is there any barchetta of any make that isn’t magnificent? The Ferrari 166MM. The Maserati A6. The OSCA MT-4. The Siata I love so dearly. Each deserving of their own posts in a future installment of The Chicane. Hmm.. that’s a good idea.

The early Italian carrozzerias had it right, small engine, small body, beautiful lines.