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The rebirth of the Finnish Ferrari

06 febbraio 2017

In Ferrari's history, countless private teams have used Prancing Horse cars in their competitions. Most of these have traditionally been American, French and Italian, but there are also rare cases of teams from other countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Morocco. The Scuderia Askolin belongs to this category as the only Finnish team in the history of the Casa di Maranello, founded by Carl-Johan Askolin in the 1950s.


Throughout its short history, the team raced with several Ferrari cars,  including the 250 Testa Rossa, which, in the last few days of 2016, re-emerged from the Ferrari Classiche workshop, having undergone a complete overhaul to restore it to its former glory, harking back to Spring 1958.


The car was purchased in Maranello by the Swede Tore Bjurstrom, and delivered to Askolin in May. A few days later, he painted it in the racing colours of Finland – blue and white – ahead of its racing debut, in the Elaintarhanajo event held in Helsinki, where, driven by Curt Lincoln, it came in third. The car was them immediately sent to Germany, where it was used to compete in the 1000km of Nürburgring, coming ninth. Lincoln was also fourth in the race at Karlskoga, Sweden.

At the end of the year, the  Scuderia Askolin closed its doors and the car was sold to Alfred Hopf, a Swiss national, who entrusted it to the young driver Peter Monteverdi, who more than 30 years later would go on to attempt (unsuccessfully) to found a Formula One team. The car's colours were deemed too striking to be covered with the Swiss emblem, and so, still bearing the Finnish livery, the 250 Testa Rossa won the uphill Sierra Crans-Montana 1960 race, as well as dominating in the Swiss Mountain Grand Prix, on the Ollon-Villars climbs. In October of that year, the car was seriously damaged on the Freiburg-Schauinsland climb when Hopf came off the track.


The damaged car was purchased by Georges Gachnang, who went on to make radical changes to the bodywork and mechanics of the vehicle, changing its name to the Gachnang-Ferrari 3000S. The Swiss driver, along with his fellow countryman Edouard Grob, came third at the 1000km of Nürburgring, before deciding to retire the car, which was now red, was placed in a garage owned by Aigle and then sold to the collector Pierre Bardinon in 1967. The car remained in France until 1982, when it was sold to an American collector.


The 250 Testa Rossa has since changed owners five different times. The last of these came into possession of the vehicle in April 2014, unveiling the car in public for the first time during the Pebble Beach Concourse d'Elegance in the US. Soon after, it was entrusted to the Ferrari Classiche facility, which carried out a full restoration, including the distinctive Finnish Askolin livery.