Gear: The Story of Ferrari’s Last Successful Sports Prototype

The Story of Ferrari’s Last Successful Sports Prototype

Avatar By Benjamin Shahrabani
August 10, 2015
3 comments

The Book: Ferrari 333 SP
Author: Terry O’Neil
Pages: 128
Purchase: Click here

Until the Ferrari 333 SP’s introduction in 1994, the company had long been absent from sports car racing. Previously, the last time the fabled company had been involved in such an undertaking had been with the 312P, almost 20 years prior. The initiative for this new sports car prototype, however, would come from outside the company.

Giampiero Moretti, founder of the Momo automotive accessory empire and a veteran amateur racing driver, saw an opportunity for Ferrari to be competitive in the IMSA World Series Sports Car Championship. He also wished to finish his racing career in a Ferrari. With the support of Piero Ferrari, Enzo’s son, and the then-head of Ferrari’s Special Projects Department, as well as President of Ferrari North America, Gian Luigi Butioni, the 333 SP project was born.

Author Terry O’Neil takes a look back at the racing history of this car in Ferrari 333 SP, part of Veloce Book’s WSC (World Sports Car) Giants series.

The price of the car would be $900,000, but included was two spare engines and a cache of spare parts. While a considerable amount of money, the price was attractive enough that 40 chassis built by Ferrari all found ready hands from privateers. There would be no factory effort, only great support.

There are plenty of races to cover, and the 333 SP would race continuously from its debut in 1994 until the 2003 season, both in the US and Europe, albeit with modifications and evolutions over time. O’Neil tracks all the different teams, drivers, and chassis with their results, as well as copious photographs. The car debuted auspiciously in the third round of the 1994 IMSA GT Championship at Road Atlanta, taking the top two spots on the podium, and proving the car competitive from the get-go. The 333 SP would win the 1995 and 1998 IMSA GT Championships for both constructor and driver, but as the decade wore on, the four-year-old 333 SP chassis design was becoming outmatched by factory efforts from Audi and BMW.

The 333 SP would find a niche and favor across the pond in the FIA Sportscar Championship, but at the conclusion of the 2002 season, the rules changed once again, and the World Sports Car class was abolished, leaving few venues for the 333 SP to race, putting an end to the car’s competition career. The 333 SP’s final appearance was at the 2003 500km of Monza.

Through its decade of racing, a long stretch for a sports car prototype, the 333 SP would notch up an impressive 126 races, 385 total starts, 47 wins, and 12 major championships.

There is a lot of information in this book about the results of a significant car’s racing career, however, if you are more excited in the technical development of this machine than the play-by-plays, you might want to look elsewhere. This is probably more recommended for the dedicated Ferrari sports car racing fan.

Purchase: Ferrari 333 SP

Image Sources: veloce.co.uk, wikipedia.org, mulsannescorner.com/ferrari333mulsannescorner.com/ferrari333-2

 

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Marco Makaus
Marco Makaus

The 333SP project was backed by Piero Ferrari but was definitely not loved by Montezemolo, who wanted the company to concentrate on F1 and production cars.
With hindsight he was probably right as the renaissance of Ferrari on both fronts was just about to take place.
From the inside, it was interesting to follow the power struggle (always very polite and ‘underground’) between Enzo’s son and the guy who saw himself as the legitimate heir of the grand old man…

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

Yeah, 333 is a good one. Saw these in action several times back in the day with my good man Didier Theys behind the wheel.

Where [i]DID[/i] that article on ATS go? I was looking at the images of their little sports racer (not the roadster).

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Finally a book about the 333SP as well as finally admitting that underneath all the ‘ official ‘ statements and rhetoric back in the day it was a genuine Ferrari thru and thru . It figures it’d take Veloce to finally publish this book [ my shelves are bulging with Veloce books ] And as an addition to all the fine text above .. if you’ve ever seen the 333SP sans decals you’ll know it was also one of the most beautiful Ferrari race cars .. prototype or not .. ever built . Jeeze what a stunner . And oh… Read more »