This Saturday in France, Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo will be on hand to give the drivers the starting order for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Montezemolo's presence will help commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first win by a Ferrari at the French endurance classic. In 1949 Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsdon drove a 166 MM Barchetta to overall victory. Since then Ferrari entries have taken the overall checkered flag eight other times along with numerous class wins, including last year when Risi Competizione won GT2 in an F430. Ten of those F430s will be running this weekend.
That original 166 MM is currently on display at the museum in the Galleria Ferrari in Maranello. If you happen to be in Northern Italy, it's surely worth dropping by to check out the museum. There is a video of Montezemolo discussing Ferrari's Le Mans heritage after the jump.
The 166 MM, the first Ferrari winning at Le Mans in the year 1949, at Maranello's Galleria Ferrari.
The words of Chairman Montezemolo, who, on 13th June, will start the legendary race, 60 years after the first win of the Prancing Horse.
Maranello, June 6th 2009 – The 77th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race is to have a high profile guest starter. At 15.00 on June 13th next, in fact, Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo will give the official start signal for the most prestigious endurance race in the motor racing world.
Mr Montezemolo was invited to Le Mans by Automobile Club de l'Ouest President Jean-Claude Plassart to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first of Maranello's nine overall 24 Hour Race victories, which came courtesy of the 166 MM of Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsdon in 1949.
"I am delighted to be given the opportunity to start a race that has made motor racing history and has such strong links with Ferrari. Our Scuderia has delivered some unforgettable achievements on this circuit," declared Montezemolo. "The Le Mans 24 Hour Race is synonymous with technologically-advanced sporting competition and has always been a focus of great attention on our part."
In addition to the nine overall wins clocked up between 1949 and 1965 (the latter thanks to Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory in the 250 LM), Ferrari has also taken numerous class victories in the French race, the most recent of which was delivered in 2008 by the F430 GT of the Risi Competizione team. A total of 10 Maranello berlinettas will be lined out at the start by eight private teams on June 13th this year.
Also on hand at the circuit will be the GES Director Stefano Domenicali, a further demonstration of Maranello's continuing interest in this classic race. In his role as Chairman of the FIAT Group, Montezemolo will also be marking another special anniversary at Le Mans as it was 40 years ago, in September 1968, that the late Gianni Agnelli also started the Le Mans 24 Hour Race.