It was August 1966. In Maranello, everyone was busy despite it being the August bank holiday. In those weeks, the majority of Italian workers were flooding the beaches of the peninsula with their families, but not those at Ferrari. Some grumbled about the fact that the traditional date of the Italian Grand Prix was in September because it often meant that they spent the summer holiday period at the factory, but in the end, their passion won out and they all worked together. Also, given they were already out of the title fight, Enzo Ferrari wanted to win the race at Monza at all costs.
The boss asked a huge task of his men: in September he wanted to deploy three cars fitted with a new V12 engine equipped with three valves per cylinder. It should have been a very powerful unit, however it had to be tested at the factory to avoid reliability problems. In the summer heat of the Po Valley, the guys in the engine department worked day and night and in 15 days completed a job that had required weeks of sacrifice. The team was now ready for the race on the 4th September.
In addition to the usual pairing of Lorenzo Bandini and the Brit Mike Parkes, Ferrari also employed the endurance and hillclimb specialist Lodovico Scarfiotti. The driver from Turin was the cousin of “Avvocato” Gianni Agnelli and was following family tradition, as his father Luigi had also been a driver and had driven the Scuderia’s Alfa Romeos on more than one occasion. His grandfather, also called Lodovico, was among the founders of FIAT. However Scarfiotti had earned his place in the team with victories at 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the 1000 Kilometres of Paris and in the 1000 Kilometres of Nurburgring, which he won twice in a row.
During qualifying, the new Ferrari engine made the difference: Mike Parkes took pole position with a new track record of 1.31.3, three tenths better than Scarfiotti and five better than Jim Clark in the Lotus equipped with the huge but fragile 16 cylinder H shape BRM engine. Bandini, in the third Ferrari 312, was fifth behind the Cooper-powered Maserati of the ex-Scuderia driver, John Surtees.
The Sunday of the Grand Prix was a beautiful day and the grandstands at the Monza track were crowded as usual by the hundred thousand people who, with no hope of seeing a Ferrari world champion at the end of the year, expected a great performance from their favourites. The moment the starter lowered the Italian flag to start the race, Lorenzo Bandini seemed to be catapulted forward in his Ferrari, because when they reached the Curva Grande, having started fifth on the grid, he was now second behind Scarfiotti.
The group attacked the two Lesmo curves and between the first and second, Bandini attacked his teammate who wasn’t expecting the overtake and ended up with two wheels on the grass, losing traction and, as a result, positions. At the end of the first lap Bandini led Parkes and then came Surtees, Denis Hulme in the Brabham, Richie Ginther in the Honda, Jack Brabham in his eponymous car, and Scarfotti.
A short time later, the crowd in the stands were not happy: only Parkes had crossed the finish line, while Bandini returned to the pits with a broken petrol pipe that needed to be fixed. The Italian driver was out of the fight for victory, but Scarfiotti recovered and in no time was fourth behind Hulme and Surtees. The championship leader Brabham retired, which seemed to threaten his chances of winning the title as Surtees was among the front runners.
On lap 16, Scarfiotti was on a charge and went to attack Surtees and Hulme, while Parkes received an order from the pits to let his teammate past. The Englishman obeyed and on lap 20, Scarfiotti led the second Ferrari of Hulme, as well as Surtees who not long after was out of the running due to a puncture and was then forced to stop altogether due to an fuel leak. Brabham was therefore world champion.
Parkes, tired of being pacemaker for Hulme, decided to let the New Zealander by to be in control of the slipstream situation. The race was about to end without further twists: Lodovico Scarfiotti crossed the finish line first, unleashing the enthusiasm of the crowd and Parkes completed the party when on the last lap, he took a perfect line out of the exit of Parabolica and overtook Hulme for a one-two finish for Ferrari.
An Italian had won the Italian Grand Prix. Since then, no other Italian driver has been able to win at home in Monza. For Ferrari it was the sixth Formula 1 win at the Autodromo Nazionale.