Luigi Chinetti

Luigi Chinetti (July 17, 1901 – August 17, 1994) was an Italian-born racecar driver, who emigrated to the United States during World War II and became an American citizen. He was a driver in 12 consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans races, winning 3 times, and also won the Spa 24 Hours race twice. He was the long-time American importer of Ferrari automobiles to the United States.[1]

Luigi Chinetti
Luigi Chinetti en 1935
NationalityItalian (to 1946)
American (from 1946 on)
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years19321935, 19371939, 19491953
TeamsRaymond Sommer
Alfa Romeo
Private
Lord Selsdon
Best finish1st (1932, 1934, 1949)
Class wins3 (1932, 1934, 1949)

Biography

Born in Jerago con Orago, north of Milan, he began work for Alfa Romeo as a mechanic in 1917 at the age of sixteen. The rise of fascism in his native country prompted his move to Paris where he worked for Alfa Romeo as an automobile salesman and became a sports car driver.

Driving an Alfa Romeo race car entered by his co-driver Raymond Sommer, Chinetti won at his very first 24 hours of Le Mans race in 1932. The following year, with Louis Chiron as co-driver, he won the Spa 24 Hours endurance race in Belgium. He teamed up with Philippe Étancelin in 1934 to win his second 24 hours of Le Mans.

Following the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Chinetti initially went to the United States of America with Dreyfus from the Ferrari team, for the 1940 Indy 500. He remained in the U.S. during the war, working for the Italian dealer, importer, and master mechanic, Alfred Momo. [1] Luigi Chinetti became an American citizen in 1946.

With the war over, racing resumed in Europe and he entered the competitions. At the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans race he drove the first Ferrari ever to win the event, and became the second three-time winner of the race. The Ferrari 166M in which Chinetti won was turned over to Baron Selsdon of Scotland (Peter Mitchell-Thomson) for twenty minutes during the race, making Thomson the official co-driver although Chinetti had driven twenty-three of the hours of the race. Following the race, Thomson purchased that automobile through Chinetti. That same year Chinetti won his second Spa 24 Hours, this time driving for Ferrari with Jean Lucas.

In 1951, he was the riding mechanic in the Ferrari 212 that won the grueling Carrera Panamericana race, a 2,100-mile (3,400 km), five-day competition across Mexico.

Driving the automobiles of more than one manufacturer, Luigi Chinetti competed in every Le Mans motorsport race held between 1932 and 1953; he entered an automobile in the 1954 race, although he was not a driver.

Enzo Ferrari appointed Chinetti as his Ferrari factory agent in the United States. Chinetti opened the first—and for a while the only—Ferrari dealership in the country. Later his territory became all areas east of the Mississippi River. The tradition associated with Chinetti continued to draw clients from all areas throughout his career. In addition to handling Ferrari, Chinetti Motors was also U.S. agent for Automobili OSCA of Bologna until 1967. The showroom of his Greenwich, Connecticut business remains open, owned by Miller Motorcars, a Ferrari-Maserati dealership.

The first sale Chinetti made through his Ferrari dealership was sold to Briggs Cunningham for racing, which ultimately ended up in Cunningham's motorcar museum. Most of the sales Chinetti made were, however, kept secret to protect the privacy of his wealthy clients.

Chinetti also was the founder of the North American Racing Team, an official arm of Ferrari. It became the team that established the high ranking of Ferraris in American racing circuits, and largely, was responsible for Ferrari's survival as a retailer of cars through the quantity he sold to wealthy individuals in North America. The team, sometimes abbreviated as N.A.R.T., also had a very successful endurance racing program both at Sebring and at Le Mans, right into the 1970s. In addition to the racing cars, the team commissioned many limited-run special variants of Ferrari road cars, most notably, the spyder version of the Ferrari 275GTB/4.

Chinetti remained in Greenwich, Connecticut after his retirement and died in 1994 at the age of ninety-three.

As an extension of his secrecy to protect the interests of his clients, Luigi Chinetti rarely allowed photographs to be taken, but some can be seen on the internet, such as this one with Alfred Momo on the left [2] and the story of the meeting photographed with this employer from his early days in the U.S., is at [3], as part of an article honoring a fellow driver, Ed Hugus. Another site presents a photograph of Chinetti at a race toward the end of his life. [4]

References

  1. ^ Siano, Joseph (August 20, 1994). "Luigi Chinetti Sr., 93, Automobile Importer and Champion Racer". nytimes.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
Preceded by
Earl Howe
Tim Birkin
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1932 with:
Raymond Sommer
Succeeded by
Raymond Sommer
Tazio Nuvolari
Preceded by
Raymond Sommer
Tazio Nuvolari
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1934 with:
Philippe Étancelin
Succeeded by
Johnny Hindmarsh
Luis Fontés
Preceded by
Jean-Pierre Wimille
Pierre Veyron
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1949 with:
Peter Mitchell-Thomson
Succeeded by
Louis Rosier
Jean-Louis Rosier
1901 in motorsport

The following is an overview of the events of 1901 in motorsport including the major racing events, motorsport venues that were opened and closed during a year, championships and non-championship events that were established and disestablished in a year, births and deaths of racing drivers and other motorsport people.

1932 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1932 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 10th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 18 and 19 June 1932.

This race saw the shortening of the circuit to nearly 13.5 km following the creation of a new permanent race track between the pit stretch and Mulsanne, creating the famed Dunlop Curve, Esses, and Tetre Rouge. This change was made to keep the race out of the suburbs of Le Mans. The two Dunlop Bridges were also first seen at this race.

1934 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1934 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 12th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 16 and 17 June 1934.

1938 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1938 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 15th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 17 and 18 June 1938.

1939 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans (French: 24 Heures du Mans 1939) was the 16th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place at Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France, on 17 and 18 June 1939. The 1939 programme cover depicted the raising of six nations' flags: France, Italy, Great Britain (its civil Red Ensign), Belgium, Germany, and the United States.By June 1939, the outbreak of World War II was less than three months away. The following year's 24 Hours of Le Mans was originally planned for June 1940, but due to the invasion of France in May the race was called off. Endurance racing would not return to Le Mans until 1949, four years after V-E day ended World War II in Europe.

1949 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 17th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 25 and 26 June 1949. Luigi Chinetti won the race for a third time in the first Ferrari barchetta by driving 22.5 hours. This race also saw the death of British driver Pierre Maréchal when his Aston Martin DB2 was involved in an accident between Arnage and Maison Blanche around 1:00 a.m. Marechal had attempted to pass another car there and he hit an embankment and the hapless Briton was crushed by the overturning car.

This was the first race held at the circuit following the end of World War II. Even though the war had ended four years prior, major infrastructure reconstruction throughout France meant that the return of the race was of secondary concern, and thus was not run until after France had established itself again. Following the end of the war the circuit needed extensive repairs. During the war the RAF, then the Luftwaffe, had used the airfield by the pits, as well as the 5 km Hunaudières straight as a temporary airstrip (thereby also making it a target for Allied bombing). So it was four years before the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) was in a position to revive the great race. Assisted with money from the government, the pits and grandstand had been rebuilt, a new 1000-seat restaurant and administration centre built and the whole track was resurfaced. However one section of the hinterland was still off-limits as it had not yet been cleared of landmines. Likewise, in that time the car manufacturers had also been rebuilding.

1951 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 19th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 23 and 24 June 1950. It was won by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead in their works-entered Jaguar C-type, the first Le Mans win for the marque.

This year marked the real start of the modern era of sports-car racing, with the arrival of Jaguar's purpose-built racer, and the first showing for Porsche and Lancia. It was also the final time for Delahaye and Bentley (for 50 years). The race was marred by the death of French driver Jean Larivière within the opening laps of the race.

1953 Spa 24 Hours

The 1953 24 Heures de Spa Francorchamps took place on 25 and 26 July 1953, at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, (Belgium). It was also the fourth round of the FIA World Sports Car Championship. This was the first time the event had taken place since Luigi Chinetti and Jean Lucas won in 1949. The race was not run again until 1964.Although the 1953 season places two 24 hour races in two months would not be an easy maneuver. But, Spa is a favourite amongst the drivers and teams, therefore, the event would be a popular one, not to be missed by the top teams and their star drivers

1971 Argentine Grand Prix

The 1971 Argentine Grand Prix was a motor race consisting of a Formula One class and a Formula 5000 class, held at the Buenos Aires circuit in Buenos Aires on 24 January 1971. The Formula One class was not part of the FIA Formula One World Championship.

This event was held because at that time the FIA regulations required a demonstration race to be held as a quality check, before a Grand Prix could be admitted as part of the World Championship. The race was run over two heats of 50 laps each, the final results being an aggregate of the two.

Scuderia Ferrari had entered three cars for this event, but they were withdrawn after the fatal accident suffered by Ignazio Giunti in a sports car race two weeks previously. Jean-Pierre Beltoise was also involved in that accident, and as a consequence had his international license suspended, and was unable to compete.

1994 in motorsport

The following is an overview of the events of 1994 in motorsport including the major racing events, motorsport venues that were opened and closed during a year, championships and non-championship events that were established and disestablished in a year, births and deaths of racing drivers and other motorsport people.

Baron Selsdon

Baron Selsdon, of Croydon in the County of Surrey, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1932 for the Conservative politician Sir William Mitchell-Thomson, 2nd Baronet. His son, the second Baron, was a successful racing driver, winning the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans in the first Ferrari (although his codriver, Luigi Chinetti, actually drove for all but one half-hour). As of 2009 the titles are held by the second Baron's only son, the third Baron, who succeeded in 1963. He is one of the ninety elected hereditary peers that remain in the House of Lords after the House of Lords Act of 1999. Lord Selsdon sits on the Conservative benches. The Mitchell-Thomson Baronetcy, of Polmood in the County of Peebles, was created in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom in 1900 for the first Baron's father, Sir Mitchell Mitchell-Thomson, Lord Provost of Edinburgh from 1897 to 1900.

Ferrari 250 GTO

The Ferrari 250 GTO is a GT car produced by Ferrari from 1962 to 1964 for homologation into the FIA's Group 3 Grand Touring Car category. It was powered by Ferrari's Tipo 168/62 Colombo V12 engine.

The "250" in its name denotes the displacement in cubic centimeters of each of its cylinders; "GTO" stands for Gran Turismo Omologata, Italian for "Grand Touring Homologated."

Just 36 of the 250 GTOs were manufactured between 1962 and 1964. This includes 33 cars with 1962-63 bodywork (Series I) and three with 1964 (Series II) bodywork similar to the Ferrari 250 LM. Four of the older 1962-1963 (Series I) cars were updated in 1964 with Series II bodies.

When new, the GTO cost $18,000 in the United States, with buyers personally approved by Enzo Ferrari and his dealer for North America, Luigi Chinetti. In October 2013, Connecticut-based collector Paul Pappalardo sold chassis number 5111GT to an unnamed buyer for a new record of around $52 million. In June 2018, the 1963 250 GTO set an all-time record selling price of $70 million.In 2004, Sports Car International placed the 250 GTO eighth on a list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s, and nominated it the top sports car of all time. Similarly, Motor Trend Classic placed the 250 GTO first on a list of the "Greatest Ferraris of All Time." Popular Mechanics named it the "Hottest Car of All Time."

List of 24 Hours of Le Mans winners

The 24 Hours of Le Mans (24 heures du Mans) is the world's oldest sports car endurance race and one of the most famous and influential in motorsports history.

The overall winners of all events since 1923 are listed here. The race has been run every year since its inception with the exception of 1936, where the race was not run due to worker strikes, and 1940 to 1948, due to World War II. Records for wins are also listed. Lower class wins are not included.

136 total drivers have won in the eighty-six runnings of the event.

List of 24 hours of Le Mans records

This is a list of records in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, since 1923. This page is accurate up to and including the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Louis Chiron

Louis Alexandre Chiron (3 August 1899 – 22 June 1979) was a Monégasque racing driver who competed in rallies, sports car races, and Grands Prix.

Among the greatest drivers between the two World Wars, his career embraced over thirty years, coming to light already in 1927, and ending at the end of the 1950s. This is also why he is still the oldest driver ever to have raced in Formula One, having taken 6th place in the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix when he was 55. The Bugatti Chiron takes its name from him.

North American Racing Team

The North American Racing Team (NART) was a motorsports racing team active from 1958 to 1982. It was created by businessman Luigi Chinetti to promote the Ferrari marque in United States through success in endurance racing.

It was created in 1958 when Chinetti received backing from wealthy racers George Arents and Jan de Vroom. Ferrari already had a close relationship with Chinetti due to his success in selling the maker's road cars in the important American markets, and thus NART received a continuous line of Ferrari racers and support from factory mechanics.

Peter Mitchell-Thomson, 2nd Baron Selsdon

Peter Mitchell-Thomson, 2nd Baron Selsdon (28 May 1913 – 7 February 1963) won the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans together with Luigi Chinetti in a Ferrari 166MM.

He was the son of William Lowson Mitchell-Thomson, 1st Baron Selsdon (1877–1938), and the father of Malcolm McEacharn Mitchell-Thomson, 3rd Baron Selsdon (b. 1937)

Philippe Étancelin

Philippe Étancelin (28 December 1896 – 13 October 1981) was a French Grand Prix motor racing driver who joined the new Formula One circuit at its inception.

Raymond Sommer

Raymond Sommer (31 August 1906 – 10 September 1950) was a French motor racing driver. He raced both before and after WWII with some success, particularly in endurance racing. He won the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in both 1932 and 1933, and although he did not reach the finishing line in any subsequent appearance at the Le Mans, he did lead each event until 1938. Sommer was also competitive at the highest level in Grand Prix motor racing, but did not win a race. He won the French Grand Prix in 1936, but the event that year was run as a sports car race. After racing resumed in the late 1940s, Sommer again won a number of sports car and minor Grand Prix events, and finished in fourth place in the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix, the second round of the newly-instituted Formula One World Drivers' Championship. He was killed toward the end of 1950, when his car overturned during a race at the Circuit de Cadours.

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