After being convinced by Chris Amon to construct a car for the Tasman Series in New Zealand and Australia in the sixties, the series soon became a place for Ferrari to ensure success against one of its biggest racing rivals at the time.
The Tasman Series
The Tasman Series was a championship held across New Zealand and Australia between 1964 and 1975. The Series was contested throughout the off-season in the winter, when Formula 1 would not be competing. This attracted top drivers such as Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart to the summer climate of the Southern Hemisphere.
The series required open-wheeled cars similar to that of Formula 1, but retained the engine rules used in the sport up until 1960. This allowed teams to use engines that were no longer regulated in Formula 1. This allowed teams to used modified versions of their own current cars, such as the Dino 246 Tasmania, which used a 2.4-L Dino engine that originated from Ferrari’s 1966 Formula 2 car.
However, the popularity of the series would decline coming into the 1970s, as increases in both spending costs and overall engine power in Formula 1 caused teams to see no reason to compete in what was regarded as a lesser championship. After 1975, the series folded and became the Rothmans International Championship.
Tasman Series Revival (1999)
The series saw a brief revival in 1999 in New Zealand with the use of Formula Holden cars, and has been planned to become part of the new Formula 5000 series in Australia.
Dino 246 Tasmania
The 246 Dino Tasmania was the last single seater to be developed by Ferrari that was not for Formula 1, and was known as the little Ferrari due to its small stature and elegant design. The Dino badge was used on the car to represent its engine, the 2.4-L Dino engine, which was a collaboration between Ferrari and Fiat.
As the engine was required to have 5000 homologated versions for the road before it was eligible to compete, the engine was also used in the Fiat Dino Coupe and later in the Dino 206 and 246.
1967 Ferrari Dino 206 GT
The engine initially was used by Ferrari in its Formula 2 car in 1966, as a 1.6-L Jano V6 engine. However, for use in the Tasman Series, it was developed into the 2.4-L Dino engine, which produced 285 horsepower, specifically for the series.
The 1968 Season
After successfully convincing Enzo Ferrari to develop a car for the series, New Zealander Chris Amon would go on to dominate the series in the car. Before Ferrari’s involvement in the series, it was Jim Clark who was the top driver, taking the Tasman Cup for drivers with Lotus twice (in 1965 and 1967).
Jim Clark in his Lotus 32B Climax during the 1965 Tasman Series.
Soon, Enzo realised that the series was giving another opportunity for his team to challenge Lotus, one of the team’s biggest rivals in F1 at the time. Ferrari sent Amon as well as two mechanics, Bruce Wilson and Roger Bailey, to New Zealand and instructed the trio to do their best in taking the title.
Amon and Clark battled hard throughout the 1968 season, and while Ferrari helped by sending upgraded engines and keeping in constant contact with Wilson from the team’s headquarters in Maranello, it would not be enough to stop Clark from taking a third Tasman Cup.
Success Down Under
For the following season, Ferrari sent two cars to compete in the series, with Amon returning to the series while British driver Derek Bell was in the second car. The 1969 season saw Amon dominate the championship, winning half of the season’s races and taking the Tasman Cup that year.
Enzo Ferrari was delighted with the result and requested to meet the team upon their return to Italy, to which he presented Wilson with a golden watch featuring the Prancing Horse on the dial, a present Wilson has cherished ever since.
Bruce Wilson working on the Dino’s engine.
For Amon, the thought of never becoming a Grand Prix winner may have alluded him, but the delight of becoming a champion in a Ferrari was something that ensured the New Zealander was never forgotten amongst the Tifosi and other long-standing supporters of the Prancing Horse.
Written by Cóilín Higgins. Join our email list if you’re interested in receiving the latest on our online magazine and store.