The Ferrari 250 LM – car #21 the overall winner of the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1965 – driven by Jochen Rindt, Masten Gregory (and unofficially by Ed Hugus) – entered by the NART (North American Racing Team)
A Finely detailed model at 1:18 scale
The 1965 24 hours of Le Mans proved to be a comprehensive victory for Ferrari over the Ford GT40s and Porsches they were up against largely based on their strength and reliability. Ferrari had developed the mid-engined LM for the GT category at Le Mans but homologation was refused by the ‘Commission Sportive Internationale de la FIA’ so the cars were entered as ‘prototypes’ instead. These cars continue to be designated 250 LM because the first car built was fitted with a 3.0 litre engine, but the cars delivered to customers should according to the Ferrari system be called 275 LM because they were powered by a 3.3 litre engine with each cylinder displacing just under 275 ccs. Being a development of production engines, they were very reliable, the most important factor in giving them victory in 1965.
The Ford GT40 Mark IIs took the lead at the start, but lost a part of their advantage in frequent refuelling. The weather was hot, and overheating began to trouble the GT40s. Bob Bondurant and Umberto Maglioli’s No. 7 had head gasket failure before 20:00 and on the same lap Herbert Müller and Ronnie Bucknum’s No. 6 overheated terminally. After the failure of the GT40s four Ferraris were leading and the only Ford powered car in contention was the Dan Gurney/Jerry Grant Cobra Daytona coupe. Around midnight Gurney and Grant had risen to third overall when the Cobra’s motor mounts began to crack and Gurney had to park the blue coupe after 204 laps.
All the leading prototypes had pit stops to change disk brakes (an operation that required between 20 and 30 minutes) except the 250 LMs that put less stress on the brakes so that two of the 250 LMs were leading at 04:00. The Belgian Pierre Dumay’s yellow car led the NART 250 LM of Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory. The NART car had lost time with ignition problems, but now the engine was sounding clear and the car was gaining several seconds on each lap so that soon after 13:00 the Belgian Ferrari was around a minute ahead of the NART car but Rindt was gaining 12 seconds a lap. As the leader needed only one refuelling stop to finish the race while the NART car would have to stop twice, a close finish was expected. Then a rear tire disintegrated on the leading Belgian car destroying a large part of the aluminium bodywork. It took the Belgian team five laps to have the car ready to re-join the race, which was more than enough to give the victory to Rindt and Gregory.
It came to light many years later that Ed Hugus the relief driver, had actually driven a session in the 250 LM when Rindt couldn’t be found while sleeping somewhere. Hugus’s drive was kept a secret and not credited because Gregory should not have been allowed to drive again once Hugus had driven and so the car should have been disqualified. Hugus’s drive remained a secret until it was revealed in the late 2000s when one of his fans made public a letter written to him by Hugus telling the story. The 250 LM was the last overall winner at Le Mans and was a victory for strength and reliability over raw speed.