26 Jun 1949
In 1949, the Le Mans 24 Hours started on 26th June. The race which was first held in 1923 constituted one of the biggest challenges for man and machine. Ferrari had only been in existence for two years when Luigi Chinetti, a personal friend of Enzo Ferrari and winner of the 1932 and ’34 races asked the Maranello marque to provide him with a car for the endurance race at La Sarthe.
Ferrari told Chinetti the Le Mans operation was too demanding as it would mean building two cars and having the personnel to run them.
However, Chinetti would not take no for an answer and set about finding the funding. He managed it, bringing in the Englishman Peter Mirchell-Thomson, or Lord Selsdon as he was known. Selsdon bought two Ferrari 166 cars while Maranello provided him with two mechanics and two engineers to run the cars.
The drivers’ contribution was a bit one sided as Chinetti drove almost the entire race, only handing over to the English aristocrat for a short time, when the race was going through a quiet patch. The car duly won the race, one lap ahead of France’s Henri Louveau and Spaniard Juan Jover in a Delage entered by the Frenchman. To date, Ferrari has taken a further eight outright wins and 24 class victories.