Here’s the True Story of That Ferrari Crash Scene

Here’s the True Story of That Ferrari Crash Scene

Ford v Ferrari was a box office smash in 2019, and now the Ferrari movie is taking a closer look at both Ferrari as a brand, as well as the man behind the company, Enzo Ferrari. The film stars Adam Driver, Penélope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Jack O’Connell, and Patrick Dempsey, and it focuses on the year 1957.

1957 was a perilous year for Ferrari, as his son had died a year prior, and his marriage with his wife Laura was struggling. Ferrari was also having an affair with a woman named Lina, and he was struggling to acknowledge Piero, their son together.

Critics and viewers alike are raving about the superb casting and historical aspect of the film — it was named one of the top 10 films of 2023 by the National Board of Review — but one one specific part of the movie that’s causing a lot of conversation are the scenes depicting a gruesome car crash at the 1957 Mille Miglia. The Mille Miglia was an open-road motorsport race that was started in Italy in 1927 by Counts Francesco Mazzotti and Aymo Maggi, but the 1957 edition of the race was its last.

Of course, Hollywood is known for changing or slightly altering historical events in movies and TV shows for storytelling purposes, so fans are wondering about the real story of the Mille Miglia. Here’s what we know about the Mille Miglia crash depicted in Ferrari.

Did the crash scene in the Ferrari movie really happen?

a row of cars going down a crowded street

Yes, it did. For the Mille Miglia that year Ferrari had a number of drivers racing their cars. The race was known to be dangerous, and it had claimed about 56 lives of both drivers and spectators during its history, specifically along a very fast part of the circuit.

In 1957, Spanish aristocrat and racing driver Alfonso de Portago was behind the wheel of the Ferrari 335 S for the race. de Portago had been wary about the race, because he believed that it was impossible to know all of the conditions of the roads and corners along the course of the 1,000 mile race. Nevertheless, he and co-driver Edmund Nelson competed in the Mille Miglia, and things were going well until his car’s tire blew out at 250 km/hr in the small Italian town of Guidizzolo. De Portago lost control of the car, and the Ferrari crashed into the crowd after hitting a telephone pole. The car then bounced back on the road, and veered across a canal. De Portago, Nelson, and nine spectators were killed, five of whom were children that had gathered to watch the race. In an unrelated incident during that same race, Netherlands driver Joseph Göttgen also got into a fatal crash.

After the crash, Ferrari was charged with manslaughter, along with Englebert, the company that manufactured the tires. The Italian government also announced the end of the Mille Miglia and of all motor racing on Italian public roads. The case was dismissed in 1961, but the Mille Miglia race never returned in its original form. Today, it’s a regularity race for classic and vintage cars produced no later than 1957.

But while the crash did actually happen, some people are finding the depictions in the film to be a bit unsavory. During a Q&A for the movie, Driver was asked, “What do you think about [the] crash scenes? They looked pretty harsh, drastic and, I must say, cheesy for me. What do you think?” As Parade reports, Driver answered, “F–k you, I don’t know? Next question.”

Headshot of Temi Adebowale

Temi Adebowale

Temi Adebowale was previously an Editorial Assistant at Men’s Health, covering shows like Survivor, Peaky Blinders, and Tiger King. Prior to her entertainment work at MH, she was Newsroom Fellow, writing news stories across Hearst Digital Media’s brands. Temi likes Rihanna, the StairMaster, and tacos.

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