© Ferrari S.p.A.
The Ferrari 712 P looked much like the 350 Can Am,
and was equally unsuccessful. See more Ferrari images.
Canadian/American Challenge Cup was inaugurated in 1966, kicking off
some of the most unbridled competition in the annals of motorsport. Ferrari's entry into the series would be the Ferrari 350 Can Am.
Taking place on road courses in Canada and the United States, Can Am was open to invention and allowed most any innovation. Engines were huge, made even more powerful by liberal use of supercharging and turbocharging. Aerodynamic invention was rampant. Can Am machines, for a number of years, were faster than Formula 1 cars.
Ferrari’s entry into the series was the idea of Luigi Chinetti, its American importer. Ferrari’s most-powerful prototypes had been benched by regulations changes after Le Mans in 1967, so Chinetti had his North American Racing Team’s 412 P sent to Ferrari for modifications that would enable it to compete in Can Am.
The body’s center section was lengthened, the nose streamlined, the roof removed, and the rear shortened. Mechanicals were largely unaltered, however, and Ferrari knew that with only 450 horsepower, it would likely be down on power compared with top Can Am rivals, and it attempted to make up for it with light weight.
Christened the Ferrari 350 Can Am, the car was seventh in its maiden outing, at Bridgehampton in New York, then couldn’t finish its second race, at Mosport outside Toronto. Ferrari subsequently converted two 330 P4s to Ferrari 350 Can Am specifications and sent them over to be campaigned by Ferrari West Coast distributor Bill Harrah. The two finished fifth and eighth in their first appearance at Laguna Seca. One then came in eighth at Riverside.
For 1968, Ferrari returned to the Can Am with the Ferrari 612 P. This had the series’ characteristic air-foil wing mounted midships on struts. And it used what was then Ferrari’s largest-ever engine, a 6.2-liter 620-horsepower V-12 mated to a four-speed gearbox. Alas, the Ferrari 612 competed in only the season’s last race, at Las Vegas, where it didn’t last a lap. It survived a multicar pileup, only to have its big V-12 stall in the resulting sandstorm.
The Ferrari 612 was returned to Ferrari where the body was modified and engine output increased to 640 horsepower. It returned to America for the ’69 season and finished third in its first race, at Watkins Glen. Later that year, Ferrari shipped over a 6.9-liter V-12, giving the model the designation Ferrari 712 P. It competed in just one race, and was black-flagged for a rules infraction.
Ferrari never seemed to have its heart in the Ferrari 350 Can Am, and the results were the evidence.
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