Jean-Pierre Ori | Founder (Retired)

Jean-Pierre is certainly the one who best knows the heart of old Ferraris. He is a fabulous technician, with whom Christophe had the chance to do his first lines when he was still a teenager. He is the heart and soul of this garage, which he founded in 1981. In 2010, we celebrated 55 years of a successful career in the service of the Ferrari brand.

It all began one day in 1954 when, just arrived from Italy, Jean-Pierre Ori, then 14 years old, decided to become a mechanic and knocked on the door of the Ferrari importer in Belgium… This is the beginning of a long adventure that fits into the history of the brand.

Here the speech given by Jean-Pierre at the anniversary party: "On the 25th of June 1949, two small red trays, the name of which was already well known in competition, are tackling Le Mans with their “small” two-liter V12 engine against well-established glories called Talbot, Delahaye, Delage, etc. And against all odds, it was the first in a long series of victories in this renowned race of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Altogether all, from 1949 to 1984, 263 Ferraris took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans scoring nine wins in the overall ranking, including six consecutive ones in the 1960s. One model is doing us the honor of being here tonight, the 275 GTB, which is bearing witness at the same time as me to an incomparable technical and sporting adventure that I had the chance to live for the first time in 1959.

I am talking about another time period, when the race unleashed the crowds that gathered around the cars to experience the race in their own way. A time when the drivers risked their lives in every turn, at the end of each straight away. A time that refused to give up for a simple brake or gearbox problem. A time when the D system guaranteed victories.

I remember this edition of Le Mans in 1965, when the 275 GTB from the Francorchamps stable was so hot, that I had to redo its nose with a chisel and a hammer, to enable the breathless beauty to breath again. This disgraceful cut made this car famous, against all odds. To such a point that the owner asked me a few years ago to autograph a photo of me in front of the unfortunate, with my own hands self-mutilated car. It nevertheless ranked first in the GT and third in the overall rankings, having traveled a distance of 4562 km in twenty-four hours at an average speed of 190 km per hour.

Or in 1966, the year when the Ford-Ferrari duel was in full swing. The brand was represented by 14 cars, but only two Ferraris passed the finish line. A victory for Ford which, in the presence of Henry Ford II, ranked three MK II in the first three places. It was a real disaster for Ferrari, which fortunately saved its honor by winning the GT class victory. This time, the experience paid off, though miles away from the winners.

Racing is also about a deep respect for the competitors. While I have experienced stress from the most exciting events, I have had the chance to assist the most talented drivers. It was first and foremost a human adventure, that of a whole team that not only gave itself tirelessly to set up the car to its optimum potential before the competitions, but also during the competition where the race also took place in the paddocks.

We sometimes engaged in last chance repairs. And if one man can be vulnerable, a team may prove daunting. We never gave up. I remember this 275 GTB whose engine failed just after the test rounds. The three of us toiled all night long before departure time to fix it. We gave each other in turn a break of a quarter of an hour to get some sleep on the uncomfortable disassembled seats placed on the ground. But we succeeded, the last bolt was tightened at 11 am sharp on the pit lane of departure, a few seconds before the marshal came to seal the car. We were already dead tired before the start of the race, but we were happy to have taken up the challenge and read all the gratitude in the driver’s eyes of when he started the engine at the wave of the flag. That year, we just missed the victory within two hours of arrival. We had to do with a second place … Not because of an engine problem but a tire blowout which occurred at 300km/h on the Hunaudieres! The race is no doubt full of surprises as long as the finish line is not crossed. I had the chance to walk on the circuits around the world to assist legendary cars.

Unfortunately, in the 70s and 80s, a lot of things changed. Races have become less friendly and cars have lost part of their soul… Fortunately, these racing cars still have buyers today, who revive this glorious era by restoring and maintaining them and above all by engaging them into events whose reputation grows stronger year after year. Ferrari still retains a prominent place. Indisputable evidence of an unparalleled myth in the history of the automobile. I invite you to discover or re-discover for some initiates the brand through a few models on display here tonight and hope you have a great evening in the company of these elegant ladies.
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