A Conversation with Gunnar Jeannette, 1965 Ferrari 250 LM Berlinetta GT.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEVE PHIPPS • AUGUST 23, 2019 • PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS PAGE ARE COPYRIGHT © FAMAMOCA LLC 2019 AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT LICENSE
Driver Gunnar Jeannette in the Miles Collier Collections Revs Institute 1965 Ferrari 250 LM Berlinetta GT. Running Laguna Seca's famous Corkscrew turn, early Saturday morning during the Monterey Pre-Reunion.
The Revs Institute brought two cars to the 2019 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion: A 1964 Alfa Romeo GTZ, and a 1965 Ferrari 250 LM Berlinetta GT. The Ferrari ran in Group 6A, "1963-1966 GT Cars Over 2500cc". The class included C2 Corvettes, Shelby GT350 Mustangs, Jaguar E-Types, and Shelby Cobra 289s.
Gunnar Jeannette was the 2011 American Le Mans Prototype Challenge drivers champion, raced the 24 Hours of Daytona with Paul Newman as his teammate, and at age eighteen became the youngest driver ever to finish the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. He drove both of Revs Institute's cars this year at Rolex Monterey. He talked us through a lap of Laguna Seca in the Ferrari.
Click here for a track map from RacingCircuits.info.
So there's a couple things going on.
One, we're on a really hard Dunlop tire. Which is what I would consider sort of period correct. We still have wire wheels, so with the wheel size it is difficult to find anything else. If we could find a similar Avon, the car would probably be two to four seconds a lap faster than it is right now.
[Editor's Note: Gunnar's fastest lap in the 250 LM Berlinetta GT during Saturday's Rolex Race 6A was 1:45.0. The fastest lap in Group 6A was 1:40.0, turned by Kyle Kelley, 5300cc 1966 Chevrolet Corvette. The Ferrari is a 3286cc 12-cylinder.]
So a lot of the guys in the Corvettes and the GT 350's — technology has moved a long way. And for them, it's really easy to build an engine that has significantly more power and is more reliable than it was back in the day. For us, the 250 LM is about a fifteen-million dollar car. And you don't just go to your local NAPA and get a set of pistons and cylinders to hop up your Ferrari.
Not that you would want to. The whole thing is keeping the car as original as possible. And that's really getting down to the philosophy of what Revs Institute is. And what Miles Collier's overall philosophy with the cars is. He wants to keep them as original as possible. And he also wants to get them out and exercise them. And that's super super cool. And I'm extremely grateful and fortunate to be able to do that. Obviously, pinch myself now. Driving a 250 LM is a very special experience.
The main straight, in front of the grandstands.
So with all that being said, where we are in terms of the grid and all that kind of stuff, I don't think that our car really fits in to the category that we're racing in. But the last time that we had the car out is 2014, so it was kind of time for it to get some exercise.
It's tough, though. Because I'm very aware of how valuable and historical and correct the car is. And so the last thing I want to do is put it into a position where an incident can happen. So we're just out there exercising the car, showing it off, having a good time.
So let me take you through a lap.
Down the straight, how fast are you?
I don't really know. I don't know what the car is geared for. We're up into fifth gear, out of five. Turn 1 is not easy-flat. It definitely gets your attention. The car moves around a lot through there, and especially because you're getting on the brakes while the car is still loaded, you're not able to get the car totally straight before you commit to the brake pedal. So that means it's a little bit nervous going into 2. You kind of have to lift and coast a little bit and not load it up too hard on the initial hit of the brakes.
2 as a double apex?
Yeah ... kind of sort of. Heavy braking for 1, we get the car down into second gear. I kind of roll it in.
I don't really consider it a double apex so much. I don't really drive around the outside. I kind of get in and get the first apex, but I'm still pretty heavy on the brakes there. So I'm sort of releasing the brakes from the first apex out, kind of letting the car roll. And just deal with a decent level of understeer through there right now. Get the car pointed back on the throttle. Up to third. Then just stretch third a little bit. The gearing is pretty good through there.
Running Turn 11.
Turn 3, you're bending the car a little bit, so it's not a super hard braking zone. Just scrubbing off a little bit of speed, then trying to get the car turned in with a little bit of brake. Again, just sort of with the understeer. And here you have to be careful with the inside curb. Sometimes it can do a lot of load transfer on the left rear, and loosen the thing up a little bit. So depending on where you are with the tires, if the car is understeering a little bit you can use it, if it's not you tend to stay off the curb.
How is grip from 2 to 5?
Overall grip level on the track right now is pretty poor. The track's been pretty slippery for a while. And especially right now, it's pretty warm out, so there's a lot of people sliding around.
And out of 3, I just stay in third and stretch third. A little bit of a light brake before 4, use a little bit of the inside curb. Then back on the throttle, back up to fourth. Braking a little bit here before the [pedestrian] bridge [between Turns 4 and 5], down one gear into third. Trailing in a little bit, not too much because right now I'm probably braking a little bit early. Again, just because the car tends to be a little bit nervous on the braking.
In 5, a little bit of curb on the apex to help get it pointed mid-corner, on the throttle as early as possible.
Third up to fourth, then braking just about the bridge for Turn 6. It's kind of in between third and fourth there. You definitely get a better shot out of 6 up the hill in third, but the extra downshift with this car — the gearbox is sort of notoriously, I don't want to say bad, but finicky. And one less downshift, one less upshift to do is nice. So I have been rolling fourth. So it's a little bit lower in the torque curve but it pulls up the hill okay.
Stay in fourth up to the Corkscrew. We're sort of in between second and third for the Corkscrew,
so I just go down to third, and just let gravity help with the acceleration through there.
The car is really nice through there. And it's kind of the same thing, I'm sort of in between third and fourth going into 9. The car runs out of 9 better in third but then you run out of revs for 10. Again, it's an extra upshift, an extra downshift. I've tried it both ways. I think stretching third is just a little bit better.
And then, same thing into 11. It's in between shifting up or just leaving it. I just lift and coast a little bit. Then down to second for 11. Definitely it's pretty loose on the exit there. And then getting it back down the straightaway to Turn 1.
Just out of Turn 11, headed down the straightaway.
Our thanks to Gunnar Jeannette. The interview was condensed and edited.
Our thanks to Amanda Jeannette and Scott George at Revs Institute; and Brandy Falconer at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Comments? Corrections? Drop us a line: Contact the author
Links and More Information:
2019 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula
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