A Conversation with Ned Spieker, 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEVE PHIPPS • AUGUST 21, 2019 • PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS PAGE ARE COPYRIGHT © FAMAMOCA LLC 2019 AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT LICENSE
Ned Spieker and his 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB. In the exit of Turn 8A, the bottom of Laguna Seca's famous Corkscrew turn, early Sunday morning.
Ned Spieker entered three cars in this year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion: A 1965 Alfa Romeo TZ1, a 1957 Maserati 200SI, and a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB. He talked us through a lap of Laguna Seca in the Ferrari.
Click here for a track map from RacingCircuits.info.
[Ned Spieker] We'll qualify Thursday and Friday, and the race is on Sunday. There are really two — there is a morning race and an afternoon race. I will be gridded with other Ferraris, not too many of them, but many big block Chevrolet Corvettes, and cars like that. Which is a little disconcerting because there is a value differential between the Corvettes and the Ferrari. So it's a little bit of a different machine, but still, they have to group them the way they can. And driving the Ferrari is totally different than driving the Maserati or the Alfa. I think our times are roughly the same if not quicker on the Maserati, because the power-to-weight ratio is so much better.
The car has a wonderful history. It is a SEFAC, which is a Scuderia Ferrari team car. It ran at Le Mans in 1960 or 61. It set the fastest lap time of a Ferrari that year but regrettably after that the driver rolled it and it was eliminated from the race. But the good news is that they had all the craftsmen there, they went right back to the factory and it got restored to its original condition. And there are some pictures in the archives of the car after being rolled.
Do you know where it crashed, which turn?
No. I've driven Le Mans, which is about a 12-mile circuit, but I don't know where.
So I've driven Laguna Seca at least ten years in this car. It's a heavyish car. It's got good horsepower. I drive it with a replacement engine. I don't drive it with the original engine. It's got good horsepower but its cornering is a little bit
not trucklike but you are steering oversteer. There is a lot of tail-end hanging out. Here on Turn 2 and Turn 11, you do a lot of steering with the accelerator. You go into the turn and then you give it a little bit of a lift which causes the rear-end to come around. And then you get on it as quick as you can for the exit.
How fast are you down the straight, out of 11?
They have a sign during the Historics. And I think I'm getting up to about 125 on the straight. Right there before the hump is your quickest, but then you have to back off pretty quickly.
In Turn 11.
Then I'm coming down into second gear. And I take Turn 2 not as a double apex but I hit wide on the first part of the turn, and then I try to go tight on the second, using the oversteer to pull the rear-end around so I can get a straight line exit out of 2.
And then going into 3, I will go into third. And there you're backing off a little bit and hitting the apex. And then I'll stay in third all the way down to 4. I try not to brake, maybe a light lift, so I can get on the accelerator very quickly at the apex at 4. And I will floor it there and get into fourth. Then maybe third, maybe second in Turn 5, depending on the traffic. If I have some traffic that I would like to try to pass, I get down to second so I can get the quickest acceleration. Otherwise I'll just slide around 5.
How do you find traction on this side of the course, 2 to 5?
Turn 3 is an off-camber turn. 5, you have good dish in there, you can get some pretty good camber. 4 is a fast turn, one of the faster turns on the track. So you can lose some grip but if you position it early in the turn, you get it way outside on the turn, you can accelerate pretty quickly on the curbing there. That's a slippery little spot, but 3 is probably your most because it's off-camber.
Turn 6, there is plenty of turn in there. Sometimes I downshift again depending on traffic. Whether I downshift depends on how much momentum. But I get very deep into that apex so that I can accelerate out. And that's got a lot of camber on that turn, a good exit on there.
Headed for Turn 9, Rainey Curve.
Then up to 7, you're up just quick as you can. Probably fourth gear. Then I'm downshifting substantially, into second gear, to take the Corkscrew.
How fast is that for you?
That's slow. I don't know. I'm not looking at the speedometer [laughing]. I don't even know. It's relatively slow. But it's a quick left and a right.
Does your outside front lift into 8A?
No, because the car is pretty heavy. In some of the others, like my Maserati, I'll feel it unweight a little bit. And my Alfa. More my Maserati will unweight a little bit there.
And here it's a pretty fast part of the track. You want to keep as much momentum as you can. They just changed Turn 9 for the motorcycles. The pre part of that, before the curbing, they changed the entry so you don't have to hit quite as abruptly. You can kind of get on the inside of the curb. It's a flat spot, it's green pavement and you can get on that. And it's fabulous. You can take that turn a lot more gently rather than abruptly. Because of that green pavement.
10 is a fast turn. It's all about momentum, getting way out to the left on your turn in. It's got some good camber in there, so you can keep that pretty quickly.
11, it's slow in, fast out. And that's the key. I get way out to the outside as much as I can, and don't try to be a hero going in too deep. Because the rumble strip on the exit is no fun to be on,
and it destroys your speed on the fastest part of the track.
So that's a very treetops view of the track in the short-wheelbase Ferrari.
Ned Spieker. On pit lane with the Ferrari, just before the start of Sunday's Rolex Race 2B.
→ Go on to Part 2, a photo gallery.
Our thanks to Ned Spieker. The interview was condensed, and edited for clarity.
Our thanks to 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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