Count Goffredo Zehender

Count Goffredo Zehender

27/2/1901 - 7/1/1958

Grand Prix and sports car driver had had a number of notable results including winning the Spa 24 hour race in 1931. He was a works Alfa Romeo driver for much of his career and was also team manager for Gruppo Inter in 1948. He crashed one of their Ferrari in testing before the Mille Miglis that year so team principal, Price Troubetskoy, had to drive their 166S Sport Spyder road car in the race. Turned out to be a stroke of luck as due to the poor fuel quality that year all the competition engines went sick, heaving the Prince to take the win.

Freddie started racing in 1925 taking part in the 24 hour Belgian Touring Car Grand Prix at Spa finishing 3rd in class (19th overall) driving an OM 665S Superba with Giulio Foresti.

He was back at Spa in 1927 when he drove a Georges Irat with Joseph Reinartz to 6th overall and 3rd in class. 

Then in 1928 he drove a Chrysler 72 at the Le Mans 24 Hour race. The car was powered by a six-cylinder 4.1-liter side-valve engine linked to a standard three-speed gearbox. Driving with Jérôme Le Dur they went out after just 5 laps with a broken radiator. In July at Spa, he teamed up with Jérôme Le Dur again. They finished third behind his team mates and class winners, Cyril De Vere and Marcel Mongin. The race was won by Boris Ivanowski and Attilio Marinoni in an Alfa Romeo 6C.

He became a works Alfa Romeo driver in 1929. At the Spa 24 hour race he came third in a 1-2-3 for Alfa Romeo. Driving a 6C with Louis Rigal they finished behind Benoist and Attilio Marinoni in a 6C 1750 SS and Eyston and Boris Ivanowski in the 6C 1500 TF. In July he raced a 6C with Achille Varzi in a 12 hour handicap race, the Grand Prix du Guipozcoa at Lasarte-St.Sébastien. Finishing second behind Henri Stoffel in a Crysler. In September he won the Circuit des Routes Pavées. The race was a handicap organised by the Automobile Club du Nord de la France, using roads around Lille and Tourcoing.

In 1930 he once again finished third in the Spa 24 hour race, sharing his Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS with Carlo Canavesi. It was once again a clean sweep for Alfa Romeo.

He became a works Alfa Romeo works Grand Prix driver 1931 with several good results.

In sports cars he raced a Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 LM at Le Mans in June with Attilio Marinoni. In a race where only six cars finished, he crashed out after 99 laps.

In July, at Spa, 17 cars finished the race with Zehender’s Mercedes four miles ahead of the Alfa driven by Jean Pesato and Pierre Félix  and 51 miles ahead of the third placed Chrysler, driven by Raymond Sommer and Jean Delemer. In October he raced in the UK in the 500 Mile race at Brooklands. Driving a Mercedes-Benz SSK entered by Prince Djordjadze and driving with William 'Bummer' Scott, they went out with engine trouble.

He then won the Circuit des Routes Pavées again in 1931 but the race turned into a dissaster. The Alfa Romeo driven by Del Monico crashed into a group of spectators, killing two, including a 6 year-old boy, and injuring ten others. Several other accidents happened leaving a total of 13 people hospitalised.

Commaert was hit by Brisson as he was leaving the pit area after refueling. Commaert's car, a Georges Irat, caught fire and the driver sustained extensive burns. He was transported to the hospital in critical conditions. The accidents and the two fatalities spelled the end for the event.

In 1932 and 1933 Freddy ran his Alfa 8C-2300 'Monza' (038) as a works-supported independent in events outside Italy, winning the Comminges GP.

At Le Mans he was down to drive Prince Djordjazé's Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 but whatever they just did not turn up or did not start the, they did not take any part in the race.

In March 1933 he raced in the Grand Prix de Tunisie finishing third behind Borzacchini and the winner, Nuvolari. He followed this with a 6th at Monaco and then a string of DNFs finally finishing a race late in August at Miramas in the Grand Prix be Marseille.  In the race he had been struggling with his car so he stopped and turned the car over to Parenti for a few laps. He eventually finished 5th.

Continuing with the Maserati in 1934 he took 6th in Montreux and the German Grand Prix, 5th in the Grand Prix in Nice and a 2nd in the Comminges Grand Prix.

He drove an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza in the Targa Abruzzi, a 24 hour race at Pescara with de Villapadierna, failing to finish and at Le Mans the Bugatti T55 he was due to drive crashed on lap 71.

He joined Scuderia Subalpina (Maserati) in 1935 with a third in the French Grand Prix his only finish of any note.

In 1935 the British Mercedes importers retained him as a technical adviser and demonstration driver for the Mercedes 500k.

He was a Mercedes-Benz reserve driver for 1936 and 1937 but see much action behing the wheel, his only finish was a 5th at Monaco in 1937.

At the sports car Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France at Montlhéry in June 1936, he finished third in a Delahaye 135CS with Robert Brunet. They raced together again at Spa but retired with gearbox problems.

He was back with Maserati in 1938 but only posted two DNFs. He retired from Grand Prix racing 1939.

Later he became team manager for Gruppo Inter. Gruppo Inter was formed in 1948 by Prince Igor Troubetzkoy and Count Bruno Sterzi. The purchased 3 Ferraris for $15,000, 2 Spyder Corsas, 006I and another cycle-fendered 166, 010I (Nee 01C), and a 166S Sport Spyder road car with full-width bodywork by Allemano, (001S) for use as a “Muletto”, or practice, car.

In the 1948 Mille Miglia, Zehender crashed 0061 in practice. Sterzi thus drove Troubetskoy’s 010I and the Prince had to drive the Muletto, the 166S road car. With it he won the race as all the pure competition cars had trouble with the local fuel quality.

As part of the agreement between Gruppo Inter and Ferrari, the three cars were to be kept and maintained by the factory. However there is little doubt that, whether or not Troubetskoy and Sterzi knew about it, all three cars were loaned out to other drivers when the team principals were not using them. Sterzi found out about this later, and didn't want to have any further dealings with Zehender and asked Troubetskoy to buy him out, so Troubetskoy then owned all three cars.

Almost certainly, Zehender had allowed Enzo Ferrari to enter the Gruppo Inter's cars without telling either Sterzi or Troubetskoy and they were not best pleased when they found out. They decided to disband Gruppo Inter and Troubetskoy was left with the cars. Naturally, he turned to Freddy Zehender to help him sell the cars and so Zehender let it be known, through the grapevine of racing teams, that the cars could be bought, either as one lot or individually.

He returned to the wheel in 1953 in the 20th Mille Miglia driving with de Giuseppe in Martin Swig's 1900 Touring bodied Alfa Romeo Corto Gara. Martin Swig is the organizer of the US Mille Miglia "retro" event.

His last race was in 1956 at Le Mans driving a Talbot Lago Sport 2500 with Jean Lucas, they crashed out after 7 hours.

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