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Peter Giddings Racing

Ambasssadors, All

by Joe Knycha


It was a celebration of all things Ferrari, with a dash of Maserati and a hint of Alfa Romeo mixed in for good measure.

The fourth "Festival Ferrari" was held at the historic Circuit Mont-Tremblant racetrack, about an hour northwest of Montreal, in late June. A visual and aural treat for participants and spectators alike, for some the experience bordered on spiritual.

The cars -- some worth many millions of dollars and of great historical interest -- were not dawdled about when out on the track. On the contrary, most were raced hard in their various classes, in the apparent belief that they were meant to be driven.

The event was more than a gathering of a privileged few dozen Ferrari aficionados out for a weekend of socializing and bench racing. Judging by the reactions of spectators, the Festival Ferrari was as much a service to the public, whose appetite for anything Ferari seems insatiable.

"These aren't just a bunch of gentlemen (and women) racers," said Michael Ney, president of both Ferrari Quebec and of Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant. "They take their racing seriously."

One of the hardest charging drivers of the weekend, and perhaps the most popular of all the entrants in the historic races was Peter Giddings of Alamo, California, who raced two virtually priceless cars -- a 1935 Alfa Romeo Tipo (Type) C and a 1954 Maserati 250F, the very first of only a handful built, which was driven to victory by British ace Stirling Moss in the 1956 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

Giddings looked momentarily perplexed when asked if he worries about possibly damaging such rare and expensive vehicles. "If the day comes when you worry about the value of what you're racing, it's time to take up another hobby," he replied.

He keeps his cars "in as good fettle as I can" but races "for the honour and the thrill of showing off these cars to the public ... and to kids."

A successsful businessman in his own right, Giddings even lets young people sit in his cars in the hope it might spur some of them on to eventual historic car ownership and vintage racing themselves one day, as happened with him.

Giddings' first automotive love affair was with a chain-driven 1926 Frazer-Nash. He was just a boy at the time, but that encounter sparked a lifelong passion for historic cars.

"I put the kids in my cars (in the belief that) if I can get them salivating and thinking about the possibilities, maybe they'll do better in school. Maybe as a result they'll work harder as students, then as adults, so they might one day be able to afford their own."

It's a laudable notion and one that could pay dividends to both society and to the realm of collector cars and vintage motorsport. In the meantime, you can tell by the look on his face that Giddings is having a great time in the process.

(from Car Guide Magazine, Vol. 33, No. 4, August 2004)


Mont-Tramblant 2004

Warm-up drive in the pits at Mont-Tremblant, from Car Guide, August 2004.