High bid of $3,400,000 at 2014 RM Auctions at Monterey. (did not sell)
Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s Enzo Ferrari had a spy feeding him information, gently persuading il Commendatore
as to what Maranello should build next. By the 1990s, Enzo would be dead, right along with his reliable dealer Luigi Chinetti. However, Enzo's son, Piero, would have his own bug in the ear. Little would he know that a sudden meeting in the early 1990s would lead to another of Ferrari's great prototype sportscars.
The name 'Momo' would be about as synonymous with motor racing as Scuderia Ferrari. Not surprisingly, in the early 1990s, Giampiero Moretti, the founder of Momo, would walk into Piero Ferrari's office with a notion, something of a wild idea.
Moretti recognized an opportunity. The days of Group C prototypes and IMSA GTP cars were terribly numbered. In fact, new regulations would be introduced that would change the direction of prototype sportscar racing. While most manufacturers saw this as a time to focus on specially-built GT cars, Moretti would figure it was the right time for Ferrari to re-enter the prototype ranks.
Moretti's idea was aimed at the United States and upcoming rule changes for the 1994 IMSA World Series Championship. There was no Formula One race in the States at that time and it was suggested the strong presence of Ferrari within the series was not only viable for the company in Maranello, but would also help with brand recognition and popularity within American audiences. Those at Ferrari would agree with Moretti, who wanted to be at the wheel of a Ferrari in his last big sportscar race.
This meeting would give birth to the 333 SP. Working in tandem with Dallara, the 333 SP would be conceived. Since Ferrari could really only pour a certain amount of its resources into the project they would borrow readily from their Formula One program. This would include a carbon fiber monocoque chassis based upon the structure of an F92, as well as, the suspension members. Then there would be the engine.
At the time, Ferrari still made use of a V12 at the back of their Formula One cars. Having examples readily available, they would set about tweaking it to displace the maximum 4.0-liters allowed by the IMSA rules. Revving to almost 12,000rpms, the sound would be powerful and absolutely note perfect as it howled down the straights.
The moment the 333SP appeared on the scene it would be successful. However, perhaps the greatest and most successful of them all was still a couple of years in coming, and, it had to be delivered to just the right customer.
Moretti had gone to Ferrari with the idea for what was the 333 SP. He didn't necessarily know what it would look like, nor what to expect necessarily. All he knew is that Ferrari could be successful in prototypes again and that was just how Moretti wanted to go out—a winner.
Other 333 SPs would come and go and would be successful. Moretti would have some success but would never be able to achieve that great last win. He would take part in some events, like the 24 Hours of Daytona, for some 15 years, but without the desired result. That would all change in 1998 and with chassis 019.
Within the world of the Ferrari 333 SPs, 019 is truly something special. Delivered at the end of 1997 to Doran-Moretti Racing, 019 would undergo work immediate to get it ready for the 24 Hours of Daytona just a little more than a month later. At the first practice sessions in early January, the team would look to what was ahead of them and would actually tune the car for endurance instead of outright speed. Speed, as they would find, would be a luxury they could afford to give up a little of as the Ferrari 333 SPs would be the fastest cars in the field and would seemingly rocket away around the oval at Daytona.
The team would arrive for the 24 hour race at the end of January and would look in strong position heading into the event. The team would have an incredible driver lineup that would include Mauro Baldi, Arie Luyendyk, Didier Theys and, of course, Moretti. The car would end up starting 2nd on the grid and would actually hang back throughout the early going of the race. In the latter-stages, the car would be embroiled in a terrific battle for the outright lead with another 333 SP. Moretti, who was now well into 50s, was within reach of his great desire and not even a brief off would be able to keep him from finally achieving his long sought-after aim, an overall victory in a famous endurance race.
Following the overall victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona, the first for Ferrari since 1967, 019 would be undergoing more preparations for yet another famous endurance race on American soil—Sebring.
Moretti had achieved his goal but couldn't give up, not just yet. Though Luyendyk would not be among the lineup, Moretti, Theys and Baldi would be. The team had achieved victory at Daytona but looked as though they were struggling in Sebring starting further back in the field than what many would have expected. Nonetheless, the team would grind it out over the course of the 12 hours and would gradually make their way to the head of the whole field, where it would stay until it crossed under the flags to earn its second victory in two starts, and at two of the great endurance races on American soil!
Capped-off with a 3rd place result in its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June of 1998 the racing career of 019 would come to an end and would be, arguably, one of the best racing cars on record. Out of four races, it would score two victories and a 3rd, making it the envy of not only all the other 333 SPs, but of many other prototype sportscars as well.
Following its retirement, 019 would be featured in a number of periodicals and would become a featured player on the vintage racing scene. Purchased by Charles Arnott almost as soon as it returned from France after its successful run at Le Mans, the 333 SP has been maintained ready for domination within the vintage racing scene and remains a sight to behold—the car that brought Ferrari back to prototype racing and enabled Moretti, 'Mr. Momo' to head home feeling a sense of accomplishment that had been a long time coming.By Jeremy McMullen