Motorsport: Ferrari Festival revs up

By Eric Thompson

The Ex-Gehard Berger Ferrari 412T
The Ex-Gehard Berger Ferrari 412T

The New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing organisers are rubbing their respective hands in glee this weekend as the Ferrari Festival revs up for the first of two back-to-back weekends of red fever gets underway.

This weekend at Hampton Downs gets the Ferrari treatment, which is repeated next weekend, January 24-26, so if fans of the great Italian manufacturer and the New Zealand 'tifosi' can't get along this weekend they have another a chance in seven days time.


To really whet the Ferrari fan's appetites, two of the most recognised Formula One cars of the mid-1980s will be at the track. The F156/85s, formerly driven by the late Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson, were the bellowing behemoths of a bygone era pumping out 750kW-plus of barely controllable power.

"The 1985 Formula One season is widely considered by the F1 community to be one of the best and most exciting of all time," said Festival chairman Jim Barclay.

"It is the season that saw new names in Formula One really emerge - Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell were just two of the up and coming stars and the likes of Alain Prost, Nikki Lauda and Keke Rosberg were still out there winning.

"To have two of the most iconic cars from that era of Formula One set to run at a New Zealand track, and at our event, is obviously very exciting and something we and the fans will look forward to hugely."

The cars' (chassis 079 and 082) owner Belgiorno-Nettis has owned both cars for some time and they get regular track workouts rather than sitting in some mausoleum collecting dust. He bought his first 156/85 in 1995, which was used in nine races. It was raced as number 27 when Alboreto drove it and as number 28 when Johansson drove it.

In 2006 he bought his second one and it was a new car in 1985 that Johansson drove in practice for the Belgian GP and at the Canadian and US Grand Prix in Detroit.

Also at the Festival is the 1994 ex-Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi 412T1. This beast has a 3.5 litre V12 normally aspirated engine, and is regarded as one of the best sounding Formula One cars of all time, though perhaps not one of the most outright successful from the Italian manufacturer.

"What I'm looking forward to as a motor racing fan is being able to see and hear the last of what I reckon the real F1 cars," said Festival organiser Richard Gee. "The 412T1 had 3.5-litre V12 engine that sounded magnificent and I can't wait to hear it again."

If you think that's not enough to entice you along to the Festival, the ex-works 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza sports racing car will be on show at the second weekend of the Ferrari Festival. This Monza was one of two Monzas racing in New Zealand in 1957. It was said the car had been driven by works driver Eugenio Castelotti in the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hour race and won at Rouen in France and a third places at Targa Florio and the Swedish GP. Sadly, Ken Wharton, who bought the car to New Zealand, was killed when driving the car in a sports car race at Ardmore in 1957.

The ex-Johansson 156-85 chassis 082 in action in the hands of current owner Guido Belgiorno-Nettis Photo / Supplied
The ex-Johansson 156-85 chassis 082 in action in the hands of current owner Guido Belgiorno-Nettis Photo / Supplied


Ken Harris purchased the wrecked car in 1957 and rebuilt it to race condition and in 1961 John Riley got hold of the car and fitted a Chev Corvette 4.600-litre to it after the four-cylinder Ferrari engine blew up. Sir Leonard Southward, of the Southward Car Museum, purchased the car in the later 1960s had the Corvette engine removed and the car was on display in an unrestored condition in the Museum until a complete restoration was undertaken in the mid-2000s.

New Zealand's largest ever single gathering of Ferrari road and race cars is all set to wow fans and enthusiasts alike when more than 140 examples of one of motoring's most sought-after brands and the Festival organisers a hoping to set a record for the number of Ferraris gathered in one place. The event is in association with Continental Cars' new Ferrari dealership in Auckland.

The New Zealand Festival of motor Racing is the country's biggest historic motorsports event and 2014 is its fifth running, A huge grid of Formula 5000 cars, Historic Muscle Cars, historic Formula Ford, Classic Trials, BMWs and classic saloons will keep all manner of fans happy.

- NZ Herald

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