1956 World Sportscar Championship season
|1956 World Sportscar Championship season|
The 1956 World Sportscar Championship season was the fourth season of the FIA World Sportscar Championship. It was a series for sportscars that ran in many worldwide endurance events. It ran from 29 January 1956 to 12 August 1956, and comprised five races.
Following the major incident at the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans that killed 80 spectators, defending constructor's champion Mercedes-Benz officially pulled out of motorsports and thus did not return to the sport.
Due to the fallout of the accident at Le Mans, the race was not included as part of the schedule until safety had been brought up to a higher standard. The Targa Florio was also cancelled due to safety concerns.
This led to the shortest season in World Sportscar Championship history, as well as one of the fewest amount of factory-backed competitors for many years.
The 1956 World Sports Car Championship was contested just five races. While much of the hullabaloo surrounding the tragedy at Le Mans had subsided by January 1956, those in the international racing community were still contending with the fallout. The 24 Heures du Mans had been removed from the series, but would return in 1957 following track improvements. With legendary races such as the Targa Florio and the RAC Tourist Trophy also dropped from the calendar amid safety concerns. The Targa Florio like Le Mans, would run as a non-championship. As for the RAC Tourist Trophy, it would never return to Dundrod. Returning to the championship was the 1000 km Nürburgring and a new race, the Sveriges Grand Prix. 
The Championship was remained for manufactures, and works teams such as Scuderia Ferrari, Officine Alfieri Maserati, Aston Martin and Jaguar Cars leading the way, but as the previous seasons, the majority of the fields were made up of amateur or gentlemen drivers, often up against professional racing drivers with experience in Formula One. Sometimes, even the Drivers World Champion joined in.
For the Ferrari’s assault on the 1956 championship, they settled on using virtually identical four and twelve cylinder engined machines. Both cars shared the exact same chassis and a similarly styled, Carrozzeria Scaglietti built aluminum bodies. The more successful of the two was the V12-engined 290 MM, which was driven to a debut victory in the Mille Miglia by Eugenio Castellotti. In the season finale, Phil Hill and Maurice Trintignant added a second win to the 290 MM's tally in only its third major race. The sister 860 Monza had an equally impressive first outing, with a one-two victory in the Florida International Grand Prix of Endurance. During the remainder of the season, the big fours supported Ferrari's chase for the championship with valuable podium finishes. With three very convincing wins in the five rounds, Ferrari was deservedly crowned World Champion at the end of the 1956 season. The third time in four seasons, the title went to Maranello. 
Ferrari’s chief rivals, Maserati hired Stirling Moss for the season, and prepared a works team for all the rounds of the World Sports Car Championship. At the opening round of this season, the 1000 km Buenos Aires, the factory efforts paid off, when all the large 4.0-litre Ferraris suffered mechanical problems, and the car driven by Moss and local hero, Carlos Menditéguy took overall victory, in a 300S. For the next rounds at Sebring and the Mille Miglia, Maserati prepared the 350S. The cars were on pace but succumbed to the competition. The Internationales ADAC 1000 Kilometer Rennen auf dem Nürburgring changed this when Moss and Jean Behra took over a second car, brilliantly drove it to victory. The finished at the Sveriges Grand Prix and Maserati had high hopes to gain enough points to win over Ferrari. Despite bringing five cars, all the Maseratis retired, leaving Ferrari to take all the top five places and the Manufacturer's Championship. 
|Date||Round||Event||Circuit or Location||Winning driver||Winning team||Winning car||Results|
|29/01||Rd. 1||1000km of Buenos Aires||Autódromo Municipal-Avenida Paz|| Stirling Moss
|Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati 300S||Results|
|24/03||Rd. 2||Florida International Grand Prix of Endurance||Sebring International Raceway|| Juan Manuel Fangio
|Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari 860 Monza||Results|
|12/04||Rd. 3||Mille Miglia||Brescia-Rome||Eugenio Castellotti||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari 290 MM Sachlietti||Results|
|27/05||Rd.4||Internationales ADAV 1000 Kilometre Rennen auf dem Nürburgring||Nürburgring|| Piero Taruffi
|Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati 300S||Results|
|12/8||Rd.5||Sveriges Grand Prix||Rabelövsbanan|| Phil Hill
|Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari 290 MM||Results|
- Only the top five positions are included in this set of standings.
- Championship points were awarded for the first six places in each race in the order of 8-6-4-3-2-1.
- Manufacturers were awarded points only for their highest finishing car with no points awarded for positions filled by additional cars.
- Only the best 3 results out of the 5 races could be retained by each manufacturer. Points earned but not counted towards the championship totals are listed within brackets in the above table.
The following models contributed to the net championship point scores of their respective manufacturers.
- Ferrari 857S, Ferrari 860 Monza, Ferrari 290 MM Scaglieti & Ferrari 290 MM
- Maserati 300S
- Jaguar D-Type
- Aston Martin DB3S
- Porsche 550 Spyder & Porsche 550 RS
- Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
- János L. Wimpffen, Time and Two Seats, 1999, pages 170–200
- The Automobile Year Book of Sports Car Racing, 1982
- Championship race results & points table at wspr-racing.com
- Championship race results, programs and images at www.racingsportscars.com