Sold for $3,080,000 at 2013 RM Auctions - Monterey.
Chassis #: 0038M
The 166 MM would be considered the car that started it all, the legend that would become Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari had raced under the Scuderia Ferrari team name while he still worked with Alfa Romeo. However, following the end of the Second World War, Ferrari was yet to really make a name for himself. That would all change with the introduction of the 166.
The 125S would be the very first to wear the Ferrari badge and would be considered a rather successful failure by Enzo. In the end, the 125S would go on to win a number of races and would help Ferrari to advance his cause.
The 125S would be a solid foundation upon which to build. However, the body styling would lack that touch of elegance. While the engine from the 125 would be taken an increased in size, Touring of Milan, Italy would be commissioned to provide a new body design for the newly delineated 166.
The first example of the 166 MM would make its debut in 1948 at the Torino Motor Show. This would be a handful of months after a 166 earned victory in the Mille Miglia at the hands of Clemente Biondetti and Ettore Salani and would be the reason the Touring barchetta would receive the 'MM' suffix.
The new 166 MM would be produced in limited numbers. Just a total of 25 would be built. Chassis 0038M would be the 15th of the 25 and would be even more rare than that as it would also end up being one of just three with the single door and extra fuel tank fitted in the sealed passenger side of the car.
But while the car would already be an exclusive member of the 166 MM community, being a factory racing barchetta meant it would be all the more honored as it would have some truly legendary drivers as its occupants.
Upgraded with a 195 S engine and a longer bonnet in 1950, it would end up being driven by no less than future double World Champion Alberto Ascari in the Grand Prix of Luxembourg. Not surprisingly, Ascari and 0038M would go on to earn victory in the race.
One month later, at the Mille Miglia, 0038M would be driven by Dorino Serafini and Ettore Salani and would manage to complete the formidable event in 2nd place behind Giannino Marzotto and Marco Crosara driving a Ferrari 195 S. Following the 2nd place in the Mille Miglia, the pair of Serafini and Salani would guide 0038M to a victory in the Coppa della Toscana in June.
Heading into the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 0038M would have an impressive driver lineup in Luigi Chinetti and Pierre Louis-Dreyfus. Unfortunately, the partnership would prove to be unsuccessful as 0038M would fail to make it to the finish of the race. However, one month later, at the hands of Franco Cornacchia the 166 MM would go on to yet another 2nd place result in the Coppa d'Ore delle Dolomiti. The partnership of Serafini, Salani and 0038M would prove successful again when victory was achieved in the Giro delle Calabrie in August of 1950.
More victories would come 0038M's way. Following some upgrades and improvements, which included a repositioned air intake, the car would be driven to victory by Alberto Ascari in the Daily Express Trophy held at Silverstone. The following month would see the car earn more than a couple of victories, a couple of which would be hill climbing events.
The 166 MM wouldn't just be driven by racing greats however. The famed motor racing photographer Louis Klemantaski would have the opportunity not only to drive the barchetta, but to chauffeur the great Ascari at the same time when on a trip to Silverstone for the Daily Express International. It would be a truly memorable moment for Klemantaski, but it would also prove Ascari to be much more comfortable behind the wheel than not.
In 1951, the bonnet on 0038M would be altered again. Shortened once more, an extra cooling grille would also be added in preparation for the Mille Miglia on the 28th of April that year. Driven by Serafini and Salani, there were great hopes heading into the event. Unfortunately, the potential would be lost when it was driven off the circuit and damaged too severely to go on.
Chassis 0038M would be rebuilt. However, instead of restoring it to its 166 MM barchetta appearance, 0038M would be basically turned into a 212 Coupe and would even have new 212 motor. It would then be delivered to another rather legendary personality within Ferrari lore. The recipient of the car would be none other than Jose Froilan Gonzalez, the Argentinean that had earned Scuderia Ferrari its first Formula One World Championship victory at the 1951 British Grand Prix. It is rumored the car was a payment of a debt Ferrari owed Gonzalez.
At any rate, Gonzalez would own the car for just a short period of time before selling it to Raul Guillermo Decker of Buenos Aires. From then on, the 212-looking 166 MM would become a regular fixture at motor races around Argentina and would continue to enjoy some sporadic success.
The car would continue racing right up through the very early 1960s. The car would also change hands a number of times, but always to Argentinean owners. However, in 1980, the car would be sold again, this time to an American.
The 166 MM would be in the United States for just a couple of years before it would return to Italy as the property of Ugo Isgro, a restorer and dealer from Silea. Isgro would commission Carrozzeria Nova Rinascente to restore the Ferrari. Upon completion, the refurbished 166 MM would not retire to a quiet life. Instead, the car would be campaigned in a number of events including the Mille Miglia in 1985 and 1986. Offered for sale in 1987, Michael Sheehan of Costa Mesa would become the car's proud owner. The pride would be short-lived; however, as Yogi Oyama would come to own the car later that same year.
Oyama would take and have 0038M fully restored to its original 166 MM barchetta look. This meant getting rid of the Vignale 212 bodywork and replacing it with correct Touring styling. When completed, the Vignale bodywork would be retained and would actually remain as a part of the car. However, 0038M would be restored to its original barchetta configuration and would become something of a regular in the Mille Miglia as it would take part in the event in 1996, 1997 and again in 1999.
Sold again in 2003 to another Japanese collector, 0038M would again return to take part in the Mille Miglia and would have the acclaim of being the highest-finishing Ferrari in the 2010 Mille Miglia.
Not only is 0038M one of the most important of early Ferrari sportscars given that it is a 166 MM, the fact that it would be just one of three factory racing barchettas and that it had been driven by some of the legends of Ferrari and of motor racing means this particular chassis belongs in a league occupied by very few competitors.
Offered at the 2013 RM Auctions Monterey event, the 1950 Ferrari 166MM would garner a sale price of $3,080,000.By Jeremy McMullen
Sold for $3,080,000 at 2013 RM Auctions - Monterey.
Chassis #: 0038M
Formula One was built upon the legends and achievements of its earliest drivers. Many of its first drivers already had careers that were the stuff of legend, none more so than Clemente Biondetti. In some ways Biondetti's career served as a foundation for not only Formula One history, but grand prix and endurance racing history on a whole. Clemente's career spanned two eras. The first part of Biondetti's career was the golden era filled with such drivers as Nuvolari and Campari. The second part of Clemente's career continued into the re-emergence of sports car and grand prix racing, where such drivers as Farina and Fangio battled it out in the beginnings of Formula One's history.
Born in Budduso, Sardinia in 1898, Biondetti's beginnings were nothing but humble. Clemente's family moved from Sardinia in the 1920s. A few years later, Clemente started racing motorcycles but switched to cars toward the end of the decade. By the time the 1930s came Biondetti had been driving Talbots. He had achieved considerable success in lower levels of racing such as being the 1927 Italian national champion. This enabled this man from humble beginnings to afford going racing, and racing he did.
Despite not faring particularly well between 1931 to 33, Biondetti's past success and talents led to Maserati approaching him to drive one of their factory cars at different events.
Clemente appeared at the Reale Premio Roma in 1932, racing in the category 3 class, which was cars well over 2,000cc. Biondetti didn't finish his heat race though as his MG Speciale suffered clutch problems.
In May of 1932, Biondetti was again driving his 2.5 liter MG Speciale in the Targa Florio that took place in Palermo. However, once again, Clemente failed to finish the race; a race in which Tazio Nuvolari won in an Alfa Romeo Monza for Scuderia Ferrari.
At the Coppa Ciano in July of 1932, Clemente was behind the wheel of an MG-Maserati. However, Biondetti suffered yet another DNF.
Two weeks later, Biondetti was again driving a Maserati, but this time at the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, Italy. Biondetti went on to finish the race 8th behind other famous names like Nuvolari, Carraciolla and Fagioli.
In September of 1932, Clemente was at the Grand Priz of Monza in his MG-Maserati. The entire event was broken up into heat races and a final race. Biondetti competed in the 3rd heat. Biondetti came in 4th place in his heat race behind the heat winner Campari. In the 20 lap final Clemente's race never really got going. Clemente's race was over after completing just one lap.
1933 seemed to be a repeat for Biondetti. Starting at the Tripoli Grand Prix, Clemente started from the middle of the 5th row. Just as was the case with most of the races in 1932, Clemente's Tripoli Grand Prix came to an end just two laps into the race.
Clemente then started 7th at the Grand Prix de la Marne in July, at the Reims-Gueux circuit. Though it is unknown for sure, according to records, Biondetti's race once again could not go past two laps.
These poor performances did have an upside to them. The fact was it could only get better because it really wasn't possible to get a whole lot worse. A little lift came at the end of July in Montenero and the Coppa Ciano. Clemente started the 12 lap race on the 20 kilometer circuit from the 15th spot on the grid. He ended up actually finishing the race in 10th place, finishing over 26 minutes behind winner Nuvolari.
Things went back downhill though as he suffered two-straight DNFs at the Grand Prix of Nice and the Italian Grand Prix. The Monza Grand Prix, however, was a turning point. Clemente was in the 3rd heat. Prior to Clemente's heat, the famous and popular Campari and Borzacchini died due to a crash resulting from oil being on the track. However, this wasn't to be the end of the tragedies at the Monza Grand Prix that day. Biondetti started his heat 2nd with his Maserati powered Bugatti chassis. He ended up 3rd in his heat race behind Lehoux and Ghersi.
In the final race Clemente started 9th, on the inside of the three-abreast second row. The fans at the race became horror-stricken when Count Czaykowski, who had been leading and pulling away at the time, left the banking and crashed into the woods. Czaykowski's head struck a lonely stone and instantly killed him. On top of it all, his crashed Bugatti trapped his body underneath it. The car erupted into flames and burned out. Only after the fire ceased were the emergency crews able to pull his body out.
Overshadowed by the death of three drivers in one day, Clemente was able to bring his speciale home in 6th place. This race, the last one Clemente competed in 1933, set the stage for what was to be a turnaround from the toilsome DNFs he had been suffering.
Biondetti's first race of 1934, the Bordino Grand Prix, had Clemente as one of 34 entrants. The race was broken up into two heats with a 15 lap final race. Clemente arrived at the race driving for the Gruppo Genovese San Giorgio team, which used the popular Maserati 8CM. Biondetti started 5th in heat one and ended up finishing the 8 lap heat race 6th. Despite the rather good result, only the first five finishers moved on to the final race, so Biondetti's Bordino Grand Prix was over.
In May of 1934, Clemente took on 29 other drivers in the Grand Prix of Tripoli. Now driving a Maserati T26M for Gruppo Genovese San Giorgio, Clemente started the race from the inside of the 5th row. Despite the poor starting spot Biondetti kept his head about him and climbed steadily up through the field. In the end, Biondetti finished 5th behind the Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos of Varzi, Moll and Chiron and another 8CM Maserati of Philippe Etancelin.
Biondetti followed this result with an 8th place finish at the Casablanca Grand Prix, driving the Maserati T26M again.
After a couple of DNFs and a 5th in a heat race at the Dieppe Grand Prix, Clemente competed at the Swiss Grand Prix held at Bremgarten. This time, Biondetti drove a Maserati 4C for Officine Alfieri Maserati. Clemente finished 8th, some four laps down to the Auto Union A Type of Hans Stuck.
Clemente took part in a couple of other races throughout the remainder of 1934, but without any noted success.
Biondetti did not take part in any grand prix or sports car races during 1935. In 1935, the costs of grand prix racing were increasing and many organizers were quickly becoming unwilling to give money to those who were considered to merely 'also ran'. Therefore, many privateer entrants were abandoning grand prix racing and turning to sports car and voiturette racing. These costs, in conjunction with the increasing threat of war, could have been good reason for Biondetti sitting 1935 out.
Biondetti was back in 1936 however. The first race in which Clemente took part was the Milan Grand Prix, held in Milano, Italy. Biondetti started the race from 6th on the grid in an Alfa Romeo Tipo. Clemente drove the Alfa Romeo as part of team Scuderia Maremmana. This race was attended by other such legendary drivers as Nuvolari driving an Alfa Romeo 12C, Varzi behind the wheel of an Auto Union C and Farina at the wheel of another Alfa Romeo 12C. Varzi struggled on the track. The track didn't suit the Auto Union C chassis. As a result, Nuvolari went on to win the race, lapping the field up to Varzi who came in 2nd. Biondetti started 1936 out well by finishing the race 6th, four laps behind Nuvolari. Though this proved to be a rather good start to his 1936 campaign, things turned bad for Biondetti once again as he would suffer six-straight DNFs.
Biondetti ended 1936 taking part in the voiturette race at Modena in September. Driving for Scuderia Maremmana again, this time in a Maserati 4CM, Biondetti started the race on the pole, but lost the lead to Count Trossi in his Maserati. At the end of the 25 lap event Clemente finished 2nd, almost a minute and fifty seconds behind Trossi.
After this race, Clemente drove an Alfa Romeo Tipo for Scuderia Ferrari at the Modena Grand Prix. His race only lasted a lap.
In 1937, Biondetti took part in only four grand prix races. Unfortunately, the season did not improve as it went along for Biondetti. His best result came at the very first race he contested that year, the Grand Prix of Napels. Biondetti and Farina arrived driving the 4 liter Alfa Romeo 12C-36 for Scuderia Ferrari. Arzani and Siena drove 3.8 liter Alfa Romeo 8C-35s for Scuderia Ferrari. Clemente started from the outside of row two in the 6th spot on the grid. Farina disappeared into the distance while Biondetti put on a clinic of his own. Farina won the race rather easily. Biondetti came in 2nd over a minute and a half behind. Biondetti finished the race with a 40 second gap over the 3rd place car.
Clemente had the pole for the Genua Grand Prix, driving an Alfa 8C-35 for Scuderia Ferrari again, but the rear axle broke after 27 laps. Biondetti was back driving for Scuderia Maremmana for the Monaco Grand Prix but failed to finish the race. The same result awaited Clemente at the Italian Grand Prix, despite driving the Alfa Romeo 12C-36 for Scuderia Ferrari.
In 1938, Biondetti began sports car racing and, for this, he would end up becoming most well known. In April of 1938 Biondetti took part in the Mille Miglia, co-driving with Stefani in an Alfa Romeo 2900B. Despite competing against 140 other starters, Biondetti and Stefani ended up finishing the 1,013 mile race first over Pintacuda and Mambelli and Dusio and Boninsegni.
After this, Clemente suffered another couple of DNFs in the Tripoli and German Grand Prix. Then, in August, Clemente took part in the voiturette Coppa Ciano race in Livorno, Italy. 16 starters took part in the 25 lap race over the 5.8km course. This was the first race in which the Alfa Romeo 158 'Alfetta' appeared and Biondetti was one of those that had the opportunity to show what the car could do. Right away the cars showed their exemplary pace. Biondetti started the race from the front row. Villoresi's Alfa Romeo 1.5 liter 158 went on to win the race, but Biondetti followed in 2nd only a little over 2 seconds behind!
Clemente followed up his good result in the voiturette race at the Coppa Ciano with another good result at the Coppa Ciano Grand Prix run after the vioturette race. This was not a scheduled race for Biondetti, but a ride in team Alfa Corse's Alfa Romeo Tipo 312 was handed to him when Wimille suffered from kidney problems and was unable to compete. 40 laps was the race distance and Biondetti took advantage of the opportunity presented to him despite the fact it was with a team he was not familiar. Hermann Lang ended up winning the race in his 3.0 liter V-12 Mercedes-Benz W154. Farina, also driving for Alfa Corse, came in 2nd with Biondetti, driving Wimille's Alfa, finishing 3rd, one lap down.
Biondetti's other good result for 1938 came at the Italian Grand Prix held at Monza in September of that year. Clemente came to Monza driving an Alfa Romeo Tipo for Alfa Corse once again. However, everyone had to beat the Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union teams if they stood a chance at a good result. And going by the starting grid for the race, it wasn't going to be easy for any other team except Mercedes-Benz or Auto Union as they made up the first two rows, or first seven starters on the grid. Hermann Lang took the pole in his Mercedes-Benz. Biondetti started the race well; he started 8th on the inside of row three.
Despite the German onslaught Biondetti drove a marvelous race; helped by mistakes by drivers from both Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz. Guiseppe Farina was quick, but not quick enough to stay with Nuvolari in his Auto Union D-type chassis. Farina ended the race in 2nd, one lap down to Nuvolari while Biondetti drove splendidly to finish the race 4th, three laps down to Nuvolari.
1938 seemed to prove that Biondetti was coming into his own as a grand prix driver. Of course it helped that he had some of the best equipment and was driving for some of the best teams of the day. These teams had the resources to make the talented driver even faster.
In 1939, Clemente focused on voiturette racing solely. Biondetti's season consisted of only a few races due to Mussolini's insistence that Italian drivers boycott French races due to France's involvement in the Spanish Civil War. On top of all this, voiturette racing was increasing in popularity. Mercedes-Benz had developed a 1.5 liter voiturette chassis and Auto Union was in the process of building their own when 1939 dawned. It was insisted that Italian drivers were to only drive in races for the 1.5 liter voiturette chassis. There is controversy surrounding this immediate shift from the bigger grand prix cars to the smaller 1.5 liter engined grand prix chassis. It is suggested that were grand prix racing to have continued, by 1940 or 1941 the championship series would have been based on the 1.5 liter voiturette cars, and such a move in 1939 only made sense.
It didn't matter whether it was Mussolini or coming rule changes, Clemente was offered a ride again with Alfa Corse driving their Alfa Romeo Tip 158s. Biondetti qualified rather well for the Tripoli Grand Prix, as he started in the middle of row two in the 6th starting spot. He was 6 seconds behind polesitter Luigi Villoresi in his new Maserati 4CL.
Despite the incredible number of Alfa Romeos and Maseratis in the field to do battle with the two lonely Mercedes-Benz W165s, the appearance of Italian victory was not to be. It was surprisingly hot that day and, one-after-one, of the Alfas and Maseratis began to retire due to overheating and other engine problems. Biondetti was one of them. 15 laps into the 30 lap event, the engine on Clemente's 158 let go. The two Mercedes-Benz of Lang and Caracciola ended up finishing one-two.
Clemente's next race in 1939 was the Coppa Ciano held in July at Livorno. Again driving for Alfa Corse, Biondetti started the 60 lap race 3rd on the outside of row one. His teammate Farina had the pole. Clemente began to suffer from problems with his car and handed it off to Severi. But Clemente's day was not done. After handing his car off to Severi, Biondetti ended up taking over Pintacuda's car. Whatever the problem was with his car it was a good thing Clemente handed it off. Taking over Pintacuda's car, Biondetti drove steady to finish the race 3rd, three laps behind winner Farina. Severi ended up the race 5th in Clemente's abandoned car.
The good results continued to follow Clemente to his next race, the Coppa Acerbo, held in Pescara. Alfa Corse came to the race with five drivers, including Biondetti. However, Alfa Corse was not alone. Scuderia Torino brought six Maserati 6CMs and Officine Alfieri Maserati came with four Maserati 4CLs. Biondetti started the race from the inside of row three. The grid was an interesting two-one-two arrangement. Therefore, Biondetti started 4th on the grid but from the third row. Fatalities continued to follow grand prix racing during this golden era as there was a frightful accident on the first lap that ended up killing Catullo Lami, who was trapped underneath his Maserati 6CM. Despite the shadow cast by Lami's death, this race was probably Biondetti's best and brightest in grand prix racing to that point as he led an Alfa Corse onslaught. Alfa Corse finished the race one-two-three-four. Biondetti beat out Pintacuda and had almost a two minute advantage on him at the end of the race.
The final race Biondetti competed in 1939 was the Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten. The race consisted of two heat races that were 20 laps each and a final race that was 30 laps of the 4.52 mile circuit. With the outbreak of World War II this was the last race to see the Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz teams, and they were present in mass. Each of the two teams brought four cars to the combined grand prix and voiturette race.
Biondetti and Farina arrived with the Alfa 158 'Alfetta'. After the problems they had suffered at Tripoli, and given the fact that this was to be the third race in three weeks for the cars, the cars were redesigned and rebuilt for improved cooling and handling.
In the voiturette heat one Clemente started 5th. After a few laps Clemente had made his way up to second behind his teammate Farina. The Alfa Corse pairing would end up finishing their heat race that way, with Farina coming home ahead of Biondetti. The six best voiturette cars from the first heat would then face-off against the best grand prix cars in the final race later.
In the final, Farina and Biondetti were the best starting voiturettes as it was Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union in the first two rows and sandwiched between Farina and Biondetti on row three. Despite the formidable picture, the odds were leveled a bit as the rains came and made the track incredibly slippery. Farina held many of the more powerful grand prix cars at bay for many laps until it stopped raining and the track began to dry. Biondetti drove the best he could against the more powerful machines and ended the race in 2nd among the voiturettes behind Farina. Overall, Clemente finished the race in 9th place.
With the outbreak of World War II, and its ever increasing global scale, Biondetti only was able to compete in one race in 1940 before the hostilities brought an end to all racing. In May, Clemente competed in the Grand Prix of Tripoli, once again driving for Alfa Corse. Only days before, the German assault of Western Europe had begun. Putting politics and wars behind him, Clemente, at the wheel of his Alfa 158, qualified 2nd for the race. Farina had taken pole once again. The race proved to be another dominant performance by Alfa Corse as Farina won the race with Biondetti finishing 2nd, about 30 seconds behind and Trossi in 3rd, another 20+ seconds further back.
With the Germans assault on Western Europe, the war had now become a world war, and this meant all racing ceased until around 1946. Like fine wine, Clemente was getting better with age, but unfortunately the war would interrupt the process. Clemente would not take part in another race until September 1946. But, Clemente would come roaring back proving to get better with age. And as a result, Clemente's reputation would become firmly cemented into the record books.
With the cessation of hostilities, the urge for many to quickly get back behind the wheel of a race car was undeniable. Many drivers had lost out precious competitive years and wanted to make the most of what talent they still had left. Biondetti was one of them, but Clemente proved to actually get better with age. He just had to find the right form of racing to focus on.
In 1946 Clemente competed in just one race, the Coppa Brezzi. This was a voiturette race held at Parco Valentino in Torino, Italy. Big name drivers of the time like Nuvolari and Sommer arrived at the race with a Cisitalia D46/Fiat, and so did Biondetti. The race was a 30 lap race around the 2.9 mile course. Biondetti, however, wasn't able to go further than 18 laps.
Despite the result, Biondetti would experience a turnaround in his career that many only dream about when they are pushing 50 years of age.
In June the next year, Clemente competed in his one and only race, the Mille Miglia sports car race. This was a one lap, 1,135 mile race around Italy. Biondetti was one of 153 starters for the race. Biondetti, and his co-driver Emilio Romano, started the race from the 149th starting spot in an Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B. The two drove a splendid race and ended up finishing the race in 1st place! Tazio Nuvolari and co-driver Francesco Carena were 2nd.
This began a string of three-straight sports car victories. The next one came the next year in April of 1948, the Targa Florio. This race was one lap on a course that covered almost 670 miles. Biondetti and co-driver Igor Troubetskoy, driving for Scuderia Inter in a Ferrari 166S, ended up winning the race. They covered the distance in a little over 12 hours and at an average speed of just over 55mph. Out of 83 starters there were only 33 still running at the end.
A month later, Biondetti took part in the Mille Miglia sports car race once again. Driving a Ferrari 166S coupe Allemano for Scuderia Ferrari, Biondetti and co-driver Guiseppe Navone were one of 189 entrants for the race. Once again, Biondetti proved a master at the endurance sports car races as he and Navone won the 1,139 mile race. The two covered the distance in a little over 15 hours and at an average speed of around 75mph.
Who can argue with royalty? At the end of May, Clemente took part in the Stockholm Grand Prix, a Formula 2 race in Stockholm, Sweden. The race consisted of 67 laps of a 1 mile road circuit. Biondetti, drove the race in a Ferrari 166SC for Scuderia Ferrari and was initially declared the winner of the race after Prince Bira received a push at the start from the Prince of Sweden. However, a year later, the victory was handed back to Bira and Biondetti had to settle for 2nd.
After a DNF at the Circuito di Pescara sports car race, Clemente again drove for Scuderia Ferrari in a Formula 2 race. The race was the Parco delle Cascine held in Firenze, Italy. Teamed with Raymond Sommer, the two dominated the race for Scuderia Ferrari. Sommer won the race with Biondetti finishing in 2nd one lap down.
The last race Biondetti competed in his very successful 1948 campaign was the Formula One non-championship race, the Circuito di Garda, in Garda, Italy. The race was contested over 18 laps of the over 10 mile long circuit. By the time of this race, Clemente was over 50 years old. Despite having an incredibly successful 1948, Biondetti was not able to finish his last race of that year as he was relieved by Ferdinando Righetti, who then finished the race in 6th place. The duo ended up the race as the last car race winner Farina had not passed.
In 1949, Biondetti started out with two highlights. In March, Clemente once again competed in the Targa Florio, otherwise also known as the Giro di Sicilia. Paired with Benedetti, Clemente, at the age of 50, won, beating out over 150 other entrants.
This successful result was soon followed up at the Mille Miglia. Driving for Ferrari, in the new Ferrari 166MM, Clemente and co-driver Salani, faced-off against 300 other entrants over the distance of 996 miles. The new 166MM (the MM stood for Mille Miglia) was lighter but also wider to help make the car more stable. Biondetti ran 3rd early on in the race. Taruffi led Biondetti by over 6 minutes until his transmission failed. Biondetti inherited the lead and would go on to win an unprecedented fourth Mille Miglia. Clemente completed the distance in just over 12 hours at a winning speed of 82mph. Interesting note is that the same car Biondetti drove to win the race was later driven to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1950.
For competition in the 1949 grand prix season Biondetti switched to drive his own race car. He also switched to a Maserati chassis. Unfortunately, the double switch seemed to prove too much as Clemente never had a result at any race throughout the year better than his 9th place at the Gran Premio del General Juan Peron held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the year Biondetti drove mostly either his own Maserati A6GCS or a Maserati 4CLT.
Biondetti started the 1950 season off early, along with many other drivers who would play huge parts in Formula One's first official season. Clemente stayed in Argentina to Compete in the Gran Premio de Eva Duarte Peron in January of 1950. Villoresi, Fangio, Farina, Rosier, Parnell and others were all there. The race took part on a 3 mile course and was 35 laps in entirety. Clemente finished the race one lap down in 11th.
Biondetti followed this race with a 7th place at the Gran Premio del General San Martin, which took place in Mar Del Plata, Argentina. Once again, Biondetti drove his own Maserati 4CLT. Alberto Ascari won the race in his Ferrari 166.
Another week later, Clemente competed in the Coppa Accion de San Lorenzo in Rosario, Argentina. Unfortunately for Biondetti, he was not able to make it to the finish in his Maserati 4CLT.
Coming back to the European mainland, Clemente drove for Luigi de Filippis in a Maserati 4CLT/48 for the non-championship Grand Prix of San Remo. The race was filled with the main competitors of Formula One's first season, including Fangio in his Alfa Romeo 158 and Villoresi and Ascari in a Ferrari 125. The gearbox on Biondetti's Maserati broke unfortunately, and after only 8 laps of the 90 scheduled.
From May until August of 1950 Clemente competed in three races. He would drive his own Ferrari 166CS in two of them and drove a Maserati 4CLT/48 for Luigi de Filippis in the other. Of the three races Biondetti contested his best result was 6th at the non-championship Circuito di Bari race in July.
By the time of Biondetti's only appearance in Formula One Clemente was already 52 years old and it was obvious his best years were behind him despite his performances in 1948 at the age of 50. Formula One competed on a world stage and it was becoming harder and harder to continue without major backing from factory efforts. It thus became harder for older drivers as those factory efforts were looking for younger talent that could prove successful for years, not just one or two races. The writing was on the wall for Biondetti's career and he knew it.
At the Grand Prix of Italy at Monza, Clemente arrived with his own Ferrari 166T with a Jaguar engine. Biondetti started the race from the 25th starting spot. When the green lights came on Biondetti was 52 years of age. However, in an appropriate picture of Clemente's age and career, 17 laps into the race the Jaguar engine in Clemente's Ferrari expired. Clemente's chapter in Formula One history thus came to an end.
Clemente would continue to race and showed he still had great ability in sports cars when, in 1952 at the age of 54, he would go on to finish 2nd at the 12 hours of Pescara. He achieved this result competing against drivers that were much younger than he.
Clemente had to face his toughest competition yet when he contracted cancer. The effects of the cancer caused Biondetti to have to retire from racing in 1954. Unfortunately for Clemente, the cancer proved to be too tough of a competitor to beat, and in 1955 Clemente passed away at his home in Florence at the age of 57.
Biondetti had many experiences in motor racing and in many different forms. Clemente's career in grand prix racing was long but not very noteworthy. However, Biondetti's performances in sports cars in the later years of his life proved to be the stuff legends are made of. When it seemed the good years were past Clemente, he proved the general consensus to be wrong. Clemente ended up winning the Mille Miglia four times and won three of the four in consecutive years! He also won the Targa Florio back-to back in 1948 and 49! Biondetti proved to be one of the greats of racing with his unprecedented success in sports cars and offered Formula One history another great story to add to its legend.
Sources:Snellman, Leif, 'Clemente Biondetti' (http://www.kolumbus.fi/leif.snellman/db.htm). The Golden Era of GP Racing. http://www.kolumbus.fi/leif.snellman/db.htm. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
'Drivers: Clemente Biondetti' (http://www.ultimateracinghistory.com/racelist2.php?uniqid=1905) Ultimateracinghistory.com. http://www.ultimateracinghistory.com/racelist2.php?uniqid=1905. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
'1949 Mille Miglia' (http://www.ddavid.com/formula1/mille_miglia_1949.htm) Mille Miglia. http://www.ddavid.com/formula1/mille_miglia_1949.htm. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
'Drivers: Clemente Biondetti' (http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/drv-biocle.html). Grandprix.com GP Encyclopedia. http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/drv-biocle.html. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Clemente Biondetti', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 April 2010, 14:05 UTC,
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Clemente_Biondetti&oldid=358650945 accessed 2 June 2010By Jeremy McMullen