1991 Ferrari 348 Challenge
  • Ex-Paul Frame 1995 Ferrari of Houston Ferrari Challenge car
  • Incredible History
  • In Restoration
  • $Price on Request

1991 Ferrari 348 Challenge

#ZFFRG36A7N009215

By Barton Workman for Curated

Background and statistical information provided by Jason Berkley

Still images courtesy of Bruce Miller

Back in the late Summer of 1995, one of the editors from On Trackmagazine called inquiring if I was interested to go out to College Station, Texas to photograph the IMSA World Sportscar Championship (WSC) race taking place at the Texas World Speedway (TWS) combined oval and road course.

It was an opportunity to get some work published in the magazine (a big deal to an emerging racing photographer) so I told my editor that I’d do it.  Rather than fly out to Texas from Tampa, I decided to have a bit of an adventure and drive as I’d never driven that far west before and I was interested to find some real Texas culture.

Why not?

Recalling the TWS track from the seventies when Indy Car and NASCAR races ran there, that it was an exact duplicate of Michigan International Speedway and as such it was one of the fastest ovals in the world.  The (then) owners of TWS were attempting to revitalize the track’s profile and hosting a full IMSA weekend would seem to be a good place to start.  So, the deal was done and I made the drive out to College Station, home to Texas A&M University, some pretty decent Texas Bar-B-Q and the largest sweet iced teas in-the-world.

The event was pretty straight forward, a late season 3-Hour round of the WSC featuring the open top World Sports Car Championship (WSC) prototypes of the time, Ferrari 333-SPs entered by Gianpierro Moretti’s MOMO team and Andy Evans’ Scandia team with a two-car entry and Ford powered Riley & Scott cars entered by Dyson Racing as protagonists for overall victory in the main event.

There were some big-name drivers present, none more so than ex-Ferrari F1 star Michele Alboreto along with fellow Ferrari drivers Mauro Baldi, Fermin Velez and Wayne Taylor with long time Dyson Racing regulars Butch Leitzinger, John Paul, Jr. and James Weaver in the Ford powered Riley & Scotts. The field was rounded out by numerous other prototypes with GTO and GTU teams filling a respectable thirty-sum car entry for the main event plus the Firestone Firehawk and Ferrari Challenge Series support races.

The fledgling Ferrari Challenge Series which featured equally matched 348 Challenge cars entered by various Ferrari dealers from around the country was in its first full season.  The new one-make series was still in its infancy and running alongside the high profile WSC events which raised its profile quickly.

TWS event co-sponsor Ferrari of Houston owner Giuseppe Risi invited many of his clients and friends out and a lot Texas registered Ferraris were present at the event.  The parking lots inside and outside the track were full of road-going Ferraris and paddock itself was packed end to end with racing Ferraris for the WEC and Ferrari Challenge races.  To that point, I don’t think I’d ever seen so many Ferraris gathered in one place in my life to be honest, so this was pretty neat!  Even by today’s standards, this had to rank among the largest gatherings of Ferraris in the country outside of a National FCA or Ferrari North America meet.

The WSC race was won overall by the MOMO Ferrari 333-SP driven by Wayne Taylor followed by Michele Alboreto in the Scandia 333-SP with both drivers did the 3-Hour race solo in the scorching late summer Texas heat. So, over and above the hundreds of Ferraris present at the event, it was a big weekend for Ferrari scoring a one-two finish on the track as well.

The Ferrari Challenge races were interesting as this was my first time seeing this new series with basically stock 348s running with modified springs and shocks (as long as they were Ferrari supplied) and update kits with racing safety features such as roll bars, fire extinguishers, racing seats with four-point harnesses among other items as mandated by the rules.

As this was early September and the last race of the Ferrari Challenge season, on closer inspection in the paddock the Challenge cars were looking pretty second-hand wearing scars from the season’s previous races.  But, the dozen or so entries that showed up at Texas World Speedway were ready to race and a few names stood out.  Among them none other than Ferrari super collector Peter Sachs driving for Miller Motorcars, Derek John Hill (son of American racing legend Phil Hill) driving for Ferrari of Beverly Hills, Dr. Stephen Earle for Motor Imports with George Robinson and Paul Frame driving for Ferrari of Houston and featuring Seitel livery on the bright red and yellow striped 348 Challenge cars.

The Ferrari Challenge Series had two 26 lap races on the Saturday and Sunday so the competitors got plenty of track time between practice sessions, qualifying and the races.

For the gentlemen drivers whom are business men, engineers, ranchers, doctors, etc. in their daily lives, they put their money in with their respective local Ferrari dealers to do essentially arrive and drive races with their 348 Challenges at famous tracks across the country, getting a taste of real racing without the hassle of owning and maintaining the cars.  It was an innovative concept giving Ferrari a platform to show their latest V8 creations and gentlemen drivers the opportunity to go racing without all the associated costs which has evolved into the huge multiple Continent series that we see today.

Both of the Ferrari Challenge races at Texas were won by Peter Sachs with George Robinson finishing second with Houston resident Paul Frame coming home fifth and sixth in the races respectively.  What stood out was the presence of Seitel, a Houston based company that provides seismic data machinery to oil drillers that Frame had built into an industry giant, at this event.  Seitel flags and banners were everywhere and primarily on the Ferrari of Houston entered cars.  It seemed no matter where you looked around that dusty old track, Seitel had a very strong presence as title sponsor of the race weekend.

At the same time, Paul Frame’s name was being mentioned quite frequently over the public address system during the races.  So, of course, as Seitel sponsored the event weekend, Frame was gaining just as much exposure during the event as his company even though he was running mid-pack on this occasion, the announcers clearly had their sights set on him.

As one of the few attending credentialed photographers attending this event, Ferrari PR people were approaching and asking if I was staying on after the race weekend.  As there was a long drive back to Tampa and deadlines to meet, staying on in College Station wasn’t part of the agenda.  None the less, they kept encouraging me to hang around a few extra days but never really let on why and I didn’t really gave it much of a thought, unfortunately

Of course, I found out later that Ferrari of Houston had taken delivery of the first of the brand new, U.S. delivered Ferrari F50s (one in Giallo for Frame and the other in Rosso for Risi).  The keys to the “fastest car in the world” were delivered to Frame by the “fastest man in the world”, American multiple gold medal winning Olympian Carl Lewis, whom also happened to reside in Houston.

The Giallo F50 was being delivered to Frame at Texas World Speedway where he and Giuseppe Risi held a big event to welcome the cars along with FoH clients and media, driving them around the track and giving attending guests and media rides for features that later played prominently in print magazines and specialist television shows.

During the 1995 Ferrari Challenge Series season, Frame was a consistently high finisher, usually not on the podium in his first season but further down in fourth through sixth places as series heavy weights Sachs, Robinson, Earle and Hill were the regular podium visitors.

From the mid-90s to early naughties, Paul Frame seemed to be just about everywhere when it came to Ferraris in the United States as his profile grew as a collector and Ferrari Challenge participant from the 348 through the 355 and 360 eras.  The very public delivery of his F50 and the high-profile way in which he promoted himself in the Ferrari Challenge Series put him high atop the list as a flamboyant but serious player in the Ferrari community.

Paul Frame was the first driver to commit to participate in the U.S. version of the Ferrari Challenge Racing Series which is sponsored by the Ferrari Factory in Maranello, Italy. Frame publicly distinguished himself as “Piloto Ferrari” having participated in over 100 Ferrari Challenge races all over the world and considered the Ferrari Challenge Series as the greatest experience of his life.  Frame won and placed in many Ferrari Challenge Series races around the world.

There is no way to tell the story of the Ferrari 348 Challenge #9215without telling Paul Frame’s story as well.  Frame became a fixture on the Ferrari Challenge circuit through three eras, always a contender, consistent finisher in races but was always most closely associated with the brilliant red and yellow 348 Challenge.

Frame’s passion for Ferrari was on full display on the track and off.  But, as sometimes happens, passion outweighs practical sensibilities and Frame dipped into Seitel company funds to further his racing ambitions and the jig was up.  Through a long legal ordeal with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Frame served time for his indiscretion.

After serving his sentence, Frame kept his Ferrari connections alive and joined Ferrari of the Woodlands, a subsidiary of Ferrari of Houston, where he is currently part of the dealership’s sales staff.

Since arriving at Curated earlier this year, the ex-Paul Frame 348 Challenge has been undergoing a compete restoration to return it to its original glory.  The restoration process involves a thorough going over both cosmetic and mechanical.

Curated co-founder John Temerian, Jr. and chief mechanic Jonathan Braga have begun the process starting with thoroughly detailing the cockpit, making sure all dials, gauges and electronics work correctly, undertaking the task of finding original seat covers as somewhere along the line, the seats were recovered in matching red and yellow “McDonalds” livery.

The 348 Challenge is set to be repainted to bring out the brilliant red and yellow colors to their original luster.  Likewise, all original livery and correct sponsors stickers will be in their proper places once the car is completed.

The wheels which were received with the car are likewise matching red and yellow but on seeing the images of noted Ferrari Challenge Series photographer Bruce Miller whom provided three dozen pictures of the car from period, the original Speedline wheels were white so the wheels will go back to white.

Once the cosmetics are sorted out, the engine will come out for complete detailing and service.  So, once it is done, the 348 Challenge should be good as new and ready to take on the track once again as no detail of the car will be overlooked.

Keep up with Curated’s restoration of the fabulous Ferrari 348 Challenge on our YouTube (Curated TV) channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7ltulBFR04

1995 Ferrari 348 Challenge Series Schedule/Results

Cavallino Ferrari Classic

Moroso Motorsports Park

February 9-10

Race 1

1st:  Peter Sachs

2nd  George Robinson

3rd  Gerry Jackson

13thPaul Frame

Race 2

1st:  Peter Sachs

2nd  Dr. Stephen Earle

3rd  Gary Hobbs

4th  Paul Frame

Sebring International Raceway

March 15-18

1st  Peter Sachs

2nd  George Robinson

3rd  Derek Hill

7th  Paul Frame

Road Atlanta

April 28-30

Race 1

1st  George Robinson

2nd  Peter Sachs

3rd  Jim Kenton

6th  Paul Frame

Race 2

1st  Peter Sachs

2nd  George Robinson

3rd  Steve Earle

6th  Paul Frame

Road America

May 29-30

Race 1

1st  Peter Sachs

2nd  George Robinson

3rd Derek Hill

DNS Paul Frame

Race 2

1st   Peter Sachs

2nd  George Robinson

3rd  Derek Hill

17thPaul Frame

Sears Point

July 14-16

Race 1

1st  Derek Hill

2ndGeorge Robinson

3rd Steve Earle

6th Paul Frame

Race 2

1stPeter Sachs

2ndGeorge Robinson

3rdDerek Hill

7thPaul Frame

Lime Rock Park

August 4-5

1st  Peter Sachs

2ndDerek Hill

3rd.Emil Assentato

7thPaul Frame

Mosport Park

August 11-13

1st  George Robinson

2nd  Derek Hill

3rd. Peter Sachs

6th  Paul Frame

Texas World Speedway

September 8-10

Race 1

1st  Peter Sachs

2nd George Robinson

3rd  Derek Hill

6th  Paul Frame

Race 2

1st  Peter Sachs

2nd  George Robinson

3rd Derek Hill

5th Paul Frame

At Curated, we do not acquire cars simply for inventory but rather based on what the car is.  We love interesting provenance, very low production, very low mileage, very special and often weird cars

John Temerian, Jr.

Curated co-founder