About Scuderia Buell
Siempre en busca de inspiración
Scuderia Temple Buell: 1958 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
ITemple Hoyne Buell, Jr. would be born in Denver County in May of 1923. His father, the well-known architect, would seemingly design just about every building in and around the Denver area. He would even design the first mall. This commercial success would enable Buell Jr. to experience a childhood filled with passions and the means to make them come true.
Because of his position and influence, Buell would already have some very important connections and he would use these connections to open the door to Formula One. One of those important connections would be in Modena with Maserati.
Maserati had pulled out of Formula One and just about every other form of racing following the conclusion of the 1957 season. But while Maserati would no longer have a factory effort, the company knew full-well it wasn't a good idea to immediately pull away from customers, not if they were willing to pay for the work and the parts. Therefore, development of the famed 250F would go on for one more year. The Maserati factory had one last evolution of the 250F left in mind.
The T2 lightweight 250F was certainly lighter than its predecessors. It was also more aerodynamic with its longer nose and gentle-sloping upper-lines. This was the type that was to take Juan Manuel Fangio to his fifth and final World Championship in 1957. It was a very capable car, but only in the right hands. The competition was making newer and better cars. The mid-engined revolution was just around the corner.
But Maserati had one more evolution up its sleeve. It was, very simply, the T3. From the outside, the T3 looked practically the same as the previous 250Fs. However, there were a number of changes.
First of all, the wheelbase of what would become known as the 'Piccolo' 250F would be shorter than the normal version of the car. Furthermore, the frame would be lighter and smaller than even the T2. Finally, the drive-shafts coming from the 6-cylinder engine would be angled forward slightly to help give the car better weight distribution and handling.
The first of these Piccolo T3 250Fs would be produced in the early part of the '58 season. Chassis number 2533 would be considered the first and would be raced by none other than Juan Manuel Fangio in the French Grand Prix, his last ever grand prix.
Buell would come calling on Maserati. The factory would immediately rebuild and prepare 2533 for Buell's new team. The factory would also start production on chassis 2534, also one of the new T3 chassis. These two chassis would be some of the last Maserati would ever produce.
It was well into the 1958 Formula One season when Buell came calling at Maserati. Maserati had 2533 for Buell to use, but they would scramble a bit to get started on 2534. Buell would be wanting to get his foot into Formula One's door quickly as it was about to change direction with the rear-engined Coopers having taken a couple of victories already. It was clear the 250F was breathing its last breaths. If Buell was going to have a good foray into Formula One, even one as short as what it would be, then it would be important to get started as quickly as possible.
Maserati at least had the one car ready. Buell had his man. The portly man from Denver would be off to take part in his first-ever Formula One race.
That first race would be a first in Formula One history. The race, which would take place on the 24th of August, would be the Grand Prix of Portugal. This would be the first time that Portugal had a grand prix that was part of the World Championship. The circuit at which the race would take place, Oporto, would not be new to most of the drivers, however.
Circuito da Boavista was comprised of streets within the city of Oporto. The second-largest city outside of Lisbon, Oporto is located along the Duoro River and is one of Europe's oldest cities. Originally, the city had been an outpost during the days of the Roman Empire and boasts of the Porto Cathedral, the oldest surviving structure in the city. Straddling the river, the city would feature some steep banks and some very tight city streets.
The circuit itself would be located on the north side of the river. The start/finish line would be located in an interesting spot situated just before the sharp left-hand bend that then wound its way onto the Avenida da Boavista. This portion of the circuit would be a very long straight that would enable the cars to reach their top speeds before a quick, but tight, left-hand bend that would demand a lot from the brakes. Another decent –length straight would lead to another sharp left-hander along the Rua do Lidador. From then on the circuit wound back and forth along the Estrada da Circunvalacao before heading back to the start/finish line to complete a lap. Total distance to the lap would be 4.59 miles and the average speeds around the circuit would play out much more like a road course in the country than one right near the heart of a city.
But if the layout itself didn't necessarily suggest something out of the ordinary, then the tram lines and the cobblestones would certainly give the circuit and old-school feel that is for sure.
Scuderia Temple Buell would enter just a single car in the Portugal Grand Prix. The man Buell would call upon for his first-ever World Championship race would be none other than the Texan Carroll Shelby.
Despite the fact the Maserati 250F was on its last legs, Shelby would make good use of the T3 chassis and would put together a solid lap of the Boavista circuit in practice. His best lap time around the circuit would be 2:40.44. Unfortunately, this time would end up being a little more than two seconds slower than Maurice Trintignant in one of the Coopers. Trintignant was a steady driver but was not known to be fast over a single lap. Therefore, the lap time Shelby was able to manage was put into perspective. It was further put into perspective as the front row of the grid became clearly defined. Sitting on pole would be Stirling Moss in the Vanwall. His lap time around the circuit would be 2:34.21. This was some 6 seconds quicker than Shelby. Starting beside Moss would be Mike Hawthorn in one of the Ferraris. His best lap would be just five-hundredths of a second slower than Moss. Stuart Lewis-Evans would occupy the final spot on the front row. He too would turn a lap in the 2:34 range but he would end up about four-tenths slower.
So less than a half a second would separate the whole of the front row. In fact, the top four cars on the grid would be separated by less than a second. This did not bode well for Shelby being 6 seconds slower. However, the gaps behind the first-four would widen rather quickly. As a result, Shelby would still start the 50 lap race from the fourth row of the grid in the 10th position overall. All-in-all, this was a rather strong starting position for the brand new team in its first-ever Formula One race.
The teams would make final preparations to their cars and would push them out to their positions on the grid. Rain fell all over the circuit and promised to make things exciting as the slippery conditions around the cobblestones and the tram lines were certain to play a part in the events of the day.
The drivers took their places. The race was about to start. At the start it would be Moss in the lead as Hawthorn followed along in 2nd place just ahead of an impressive Wolfgang von Trips. Shelby would make a strong start and would be in a good position early on.
At the conclusion of the first lap it would be Moss leading the way with Hawthorn very close behind in 2nd place. Von Trips would conclude the first lap in 3rd place while Shelby would be up a spot in 9th place in the Temple Buell Maserati.
Shelby would look strong right from the early stages. By the second lap of the race, Shelby would manage to get ahead of Maurice Trintignant and Tony Brooks to be in 7th place. Just like that, Temple Buell's first effort in Formula One was heading in the right direction toward championship points.
Moss and Hawthorn would battle for the lead. Hawthorn would take over the position on the second lap of the race and would stay there for a few laps before Moss would retake the position. Hawthorn would stay in 2nd place for a number of laps but would lose ground to Moss. Meanwhile, Shelby would continue to improve getting up to 6th place before the first ten laps had been completed. Carroll would even enjoy a short spell in 5th place as he battled with von Trips.
Hawthorn would lose out to Behra as a result of concerns over his brakes. The problem was that Hawthorn would lose his brakes and would spin off the circuit and would stall the car on a steep portion of the circuit. Moss would come around as Hawthorn tried to bump start the car. The Englishman would get his ship righted after traveling a short distance in the other direction along a portion of pavement not used as part of the track. Hawthorn would make his way back around to the pits to have his car's brakes looked after by the team.
Fortunately for Hawthorn, the circuit was completely dry by this point in time and this allowed the Ferrari to reach its maximum speeds around the fast circuit. Hawthorn would rejoin the race and would stand on his 246 in an effort to regain lost ground. Hawthorn would push hard and would end up posting the fastest lap of the race with five laps remaining in the race.
By that point in time the Ferrari driver was back in 2nd place as a result of Behra losing ground with an ignition problemThe Englishman would make a stop and would lose the position to the Frenchman.until the Frenchman suffered some ignition troubles and began to slip back down the order.
Shelby continued his strong run. He had dropped back down to 8th place but was able to recover to 7th with just a little more than 10 laps remaining in the race. However, not all was well for the Temple Buell team. The pace had quickened in the dry conditions. This put a tremendous amount of strain on components, especially the brakes. And, as the race headed into the final couple of laps, Shelby would be nursing a car with badly fading brakes.
Then, with just three laps remaining in the race, Shelby's brakes would let go causing him to crash the Maserati out. He had been on course for a 7th place result, if not better. Instead, Temple Buell would suffer a retirement in its first Formula One race.
Moss was all alone. He would cruise to an easy victory over Hawthorn. The difference would be more than five minutes. Stuart Lewis-Evans would complete the podium finishing a lap down in 3rd place.
But even though the 50 laps had come to a close, the race had not. There were reports from the officials that Hawthorn would be disqualified for his little exercise to bump-start his car. Traveling against the flow of the circuit and the cars was prohibited in the rules. But then Moss would step in. He would tell the officials what he had witnessed, especially the fact Hawthorn had used a portion of pavement that was not part of the circuit. This testimony would sway the officials. Hawthorn would keep his 2nd place result and the fastest-lap time. These would end up being 7 very important points.
Unfortunately, for Temple Buell, there was no reinstating for them following the brake failure. This would be bitterly disappointing for the team since Shelby had been on course for a strong, possible points-paying, result. Still, the team had made a strong showing in the out-dated Maserati. If the team could get a second example of the T3 chassis before the next race the team had the potential of making some real noise in a place dominated by the Tifosi.
Following the strong but disappointing debut at the Portugal Grand Prix, Temple Buell's team would have just a couple of weeks before the next race of the season. This would be an important race for the American team. In the Race of Two Worlds, American cars and drivers had dominated the oval race held at Monza between 1957 and 1958. However, Buell's presence for the 1958 Italian Grand Prix on the 7th of September provided the opportunity for the American team to take on the best of Formula One on their own terms.
There would be one very important difference between the Race of Two Worlds and the Italian Grand Prix. The biggest difference would be that Temple Buell's outfit would make use of a Maserati grand prix car and not some car designed in the United States. Another change from the Portugal Grand Prix a couple of weeks earlier would be the fact the team would take delivery of its second T3 chassis, 2534.
Temple Buell had a strong relationship with Masten Gregory. He knew the talent the young driver had and he would give Gregory the new car. Shelby would already have a drive with Scuderia Centro Sud, and so, would depart the team following the Portuguese Grand Prix. Buell now had two cars and only one driver. Shelby's move to drive for Centro Sud was understandable given the fact the one car was badly damaged and Gregory would get the new chassis new from the Maserati factory.
Temple Buell's team would arrive at Monza in early September to begin preparations for the Italian Grand Prix on the 7th. The team would repair 2533 in time, and so, would offer Gregory two options to choose from in practice.
The race would take place, once again, around just the 3.91 mile road course and not the road course and the oval that had been used in 1955 and 1956. This was welcome to most every team up and down the paddock although a race around the oval likely would have suited the American team.
As with the previous year, the Vanwalls would be quickest around the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Moss would prove fastest recording a lap of 1:40.5. Tony Brooks would be nine-tenths slower starting in 2nd place in another Vanwall. Mike Hawthorn would enjoy the turn of speed from a year ago and would end up 3rd on the front row while Stuart Lewis-Evans, another Vanwall driver, would complete the row in 4th place.
Since the team managed to get both cars working in top form. Gregory would test out both cars while Carroll Shelby would come back to the team and take part in some practice with chassis 2533. Gregory would decide, surprisingly, to go with 2533 instead of 2534. This would be mostly due to the fact he would turn his fastest lap in 2533. Gregory's best effort around the circuit would end up being a 1:44.9. Though a little more than four seconds off of Moss' pace, Gregory would still start the race from a strong 11th place, on the third row of the grid. It would be a better starting spot than what Shelby would enjoy. He would be down on the fifth row of the grid in the Centro Sud Maserati.
The race distance for the 1958 Italian Grand Prix would be 70 laps. As the race time approached an immense crowd and beautiful weather gathered in expectation of an exciting day of racing. Once again, the three green Vanwalls adorned the front row of the grid. However, the Ferraris looked much stronger this year than last.
The engines would be roaring, waiting to go. Then there would be the signal and the race would be underway. The start of the race would be absolutely exciting with Phil Hill surprising many grabbing the lead straight-away. However, the real drama was about to unfold when Harry Schell and von Trips collided causing their cars to overturn. Both drivers would be shaken but would be alright. Jack Brabham and Olivier Gendebien would also have a little tussle over the course of the first lap. Brabham would follow Schell and von Trips out of the race while Gendebien managed to keep going.
Another early retiree would be Carroll Shelby. His Centro Sud Maserati would suffer mechanical failure before the completion of a single lap and would end up making it four cars out of the race before the first lap had drawn to a close.
At the end of the first lap it would be Hill leading the way over Stirling Moss and Lewis-Evans. Gregory would benefit from the first lap tussling to come through in 9th place ahead of Trintignant and Roy Salvadori.
Hill's lead would last only a few laps before Hawthorn and Moss picked up the battle for the lead. Hill would end up dropping nearly out of the top ten before he would get his car righted and heading in the right direction. Gregory would settle in in the Buell Maserati. He would spend a couple of laps in 9th place but would soon improve up to 7th place by the 10th circuit. Moss was now in the lead over Hawthorn with Lewis-Evans and Brooks following along in 3rd and 4th place.
Moss and Hawthorn would battle it out for the lead but this only benefited Hawthorn as it put tremendous strain on the Vanwall. Moss needed to finish the race to keep his chances at the title alive. These two would battle hard swapping position a number of times. Then, after just 18 laps, Moss' race would be run. The Vanwall again showed unreliability causing Moss to retire with a broken gearbox.
Moss' loss would be Hawthorn, and Gregory's gain. Hawthorn would now be in the lead and looking to be on his way toward the championship while Gregory would be up to 4th place chasing after Jean Behra and Lewis-Evans.
Gregory would soon find himself coming under attack from another American in the field. Hill had led the way for the first few laps but then dropped way back. However, he would recover and would be charging his way back up the leaderboard and would eventually pass Gregory and even Hawthorn to retake the lead by the 35th lap of the race. Gregory, meanwhile, would benefit from Lewis-Evans' overheating issues and Behra's rear brake failures to climb all the way up to 2nd place at one point.
Unfortunately for Gregory, Brooks would determine to help his teammate out. Brooks knew he needed to get by Hawthorn to help Moss' championship hopes stay alive. Therefore, Tony would push his Vanwall and would begin his climb up through the field after having fallen all the way down to 9th place.
Hill's charge back to the front would be brief as he too would be made to realize a victory by Hawthorn would seal the championship for the Ferrari driver. Therefore, Hill would back off the pace and would actually end up losing out to Gregory who continued to run a strong race. Brooks would also get by Hill and would be closing on Gregory when the decision would be made by Buell to give Shelby a turn behind the wheel of Gregory's Maserati.
Had it been one year earlier the move would have been okay. However, it was 1958 and driver substitutions were not allowed. Still, Shelby would take over the car from Gregory and would continue on in the race still in a very strong 4th place behind Hawthorn, Brooks and Phil Hill.
Brooks continued to apply the pressure. Hawthorn ran in the lead but would be in trouble. Hawthorn was notorious for being difficult on his car, especially when it came to the clutch. Sure enough, heading into the final 10 laps of the race, Hawthorn would be nursing a Ferrari with a blown clutch. He could continue but it was going to take everything he had just to make it to the finish.
The door was opened to Brooks and he would take advantage passing Hawthorn for the lead. There was nothing Hawthorn could do except concentrate on finishing the race. Shelby ran uncontested in 4th place. He had been in this position just a couple of weeks before but had come up short in the end. He was determined to change that this day.
Brooks would take advantage of the ailing Hawthorn to claim the victory. This would make it two years in a row in which a British Vanwall had won around the Monza circuit. Hawthorn would do a spectacular job himself as he would nurse his ailing car to a 2nd place result finishing around 25 seconds behind. Hill would gain ground on his teammate but would not make an issue of it finishing in 3rd place just four seconds behind.
The disappointment of the day would belong to Moss, but it would also belong to Temple Buell. The allowance of Shelby to take over for Gregory would cause the team, which would end up finishing in 4th place just a lap down, actually end up disqualified as a result of the wrongful substitution. This would be disappointing for the team as both Gregory and Shelby would perform well to finish in 4th place in just the team's second race in Formula One. Still, the decision to switch out to Shelby would be disappointing as it would cost the team championship points. And while Gregory would go on to score a number of points within the Formula One World Championship, the switch of drivers would cost Shelby. It would end up being the closest he would ever come again to earning World Championship points.
Considering 2533 and 2534 would be a couple of the final chassis Maserati would ever produce for Formula One, the performance in the Italian Grand Prix in 1958 would prove the cars, when in the right hands, were still capable of strong results. But now it was the end of the '58 season. Just one more round of the World Championship remained. Just one more chance on the season remained for Temple Buell to actually score championship points.
The final race of the season would also be a new race. Actually, many of the top teams and drivers previewed the race the year before in a non-championship event. The race was the Moroccan Grand Prix, the first round of the World Championship to be held on the African continent. The race would take place on the 19th of October, making it the first time since 1954 that the season had stretched into the tenth month of the year.
In many respects, the Ain-Diab circuit would be similar to that of Boavista in Porto, Portugal. Given the dry climate and the location on the coast of the Atlantic, the climate, type of circuit and other such details made the race seem very similar.
The circuit itself would also be similar. Measuring 4.72 miles in length, the Ain-Diab circuit would be just as long. The two circuits would also be fast. Ain-Diab, however, would be the faster of the two with average speeds in practice reaching above 118mph. Ain-Diab would be situated right along the Atlantic coast just south of the center of Casablanca. It would feature some elevation changes over the course of the lap but they would end up being much less dramatic than at Spa and at other places like the Nurburgring. Still, the circuit would pose a challenge given the fact it had almost no straight portions to it whatsoever. This required drivers to be on the guards at every moment, focusing on each and every apex as it would be very easy to get out of shape and go careening off the circuit someplace.
The championship had been one of the tightest since the Formula One World Championship had come into existence. Both Moss and Hawthorn needed the Moroccan Grand Prix to go their way. Temple Buell would be much more interested in having a strong showing from his single entry. The team had come through in Monza. If only they could do it one more time.
Gregory would be on his own this time as the team would bring just the one car to the race. Chassis 2534, which had not raced yet, only practiced, would be brought by the team to the race. The team would unload the car, prepare it and sent Gregory on his way.
As with the Italian Grand Prix, Gregory would find himself a little more than four seconds off the pace. Mike Hawthorn would end up on pole after he took his Ferrari 246 Dino in practice and turned in a lap time of 2:23.1. This time would earn Hawthorn the pole and would beat out Moss by just a tenth of a second. Stuart Lewis-Evans was showing good pace around the circuit in the Vanwall. He would start 3rd, in the final spot on the front row, after ending up six-tenths of a second slower than Hawthorn.
Being four and a half seconds slower than Hawthorn, Gregory would have a difficult proposition ahead of him going into the race. However, he would at least start in a decent position, 13th overall, on the fifth row of the grid.
The race distance would be 53 laps. King Mohammad V would be present at the event along with an incredible throng of spectators awaiting the climatic round of the championship. Moss and Hawthorn knew what they needed to do, but the circuit, with its sand-blown surface and highly-deceptive twists and turns, would not make the final go-around of the season very easy at all.
Gregory would take his place on the fifth row of the grid while nearly everybody's attention would be trained toward the front row and the two title protagonists. Many of the drivers, including Hawthorn, would adorn helmets with dark visors because of the brilliant sunshine that shone down around the circuit. The conditions and the nature of the circuit would make this round very difficult on car and driver.
The start of the race would see Moss take the lead right from the very start. Hawthorn was in no real hurry off the line as he knew he needed to take care and the championship likely would be his. Therefore, it would be Moss leading the way with Phil Hill in 2nd place. Gregory would get away well but knew it would be a long, hard day of racing, and therefore, looked to be trying to settle into a pace very early on.
At the end of the first lap it would be Moss leading the way with Hill challenging in 2nd place. Hawthorn was in 3rd place while Gregory crossed the line in 13th, right where he started. While Gregory was settling in just outside the top ten, the pace of the race itself was just beginning to pick up as Moss not only needed to win but set fastest lap as well.
Hill would drop back and would swap places with Hawthorn a couple of times until the Brit would be content allowing his teammate to take the fight to Moss. Therefore, Hill would pick his pace back up and would harry Moss throughout the first half of the race. Gregory, meanwhile, would be steadily making his way forward. Aided by the retirements of Trintignant and Graham Hill, Masten would continue to move forward. Masten wouldn't just let attrition do his work for him. He would fight with Schell for a number of laps and would continue to fight with the American-Parisian throughout the first half of the race. By the 30th lap of the race Gregory would be up to 7th place and looking quite strong.
Brooks had been fighting hard to get ahead of Hawthorn to help out Moss, who was still holding onto the lead. Brooks would no sooner get by Mike when his engine would let go taking him out of the running altogether. It was up to Lewis-Evans to help out his fellow Vanwall teammate. The problem was that he was well back. Still, the signal would be given to him to push and push hard in an effort to get ahead of Hawthorn and help Moss. A little more than 20 laps remaining in the race, Lewis-Evans would just up two positions to 5th place. Hawthorn would be given the signal to increase his pace to match the coming Vanwall. Gregory would lose out in his battle with Schell but would find himself in 7th place by this point in time, just a couple of spots outside the points.
Hawthorn would catch Hill and the Ferrari pit would let Phil know to allow Hawthorn to pass for 2nd place. As long as Hawthorn stayed right there the championship would be his. But he needed to stay right there as Moss was en route to victory, and, had the fastest lap of the race in hand as well. Gregory would be in battle of his own. He would be a lap down to Schell but could still push in hopes that the BRM, which did have a tendency to be unreliable, would be faulty on this day. If so, Gregory could come through and snag a couple of points.
Lewis-Evans was doing his best to come through and help Moss. However, after completing 41 laps, the engine in the Vanwall would begin spraying oil. This would cause Lewis-Evans to careen off the track. The oil would ignite. Lewis-Evans would get out of the car but would be alight with oil flames. Workers would help to douse the flames. Lewis-Evans would be badly burned and would be flown to England for recovery. Unfortunately, the burns would be too terribly and he would eventually succumb. It would be the third death in Formula One on the year and a terrible way in which to end the season.
Caught up in Lewis-Evans trials and without any other means to help, Vandervell would be helpless watching Moss circulate still in the lead of the race. They needed Hawthorn to retire. But it certainly didn't seem as though it was going to happen. Gregory needed Schell to retire as well. However, heading into the final couple of laps that too seemed incapable of happening.
The race would run out. Moss would take the victory and secure the fastest lap, but it wouldn't be enough as Hawthorn would finish in 2nd place in the race and first in the World Championship for 1958. Phil Hill would follow his Ferrari teammate home in 3rd place just a second behind. Gregory would give it everything he had in the Maserati. However, he too would come up short finishing in 6th place, a lap down to Moss and those ahead of him.
Following the retirement in the Portuguese Grand Prix, Temple Buell's team had fought back and recovered rather brilliantly finishing in 4th and 6th place in the last two rounds of the World Championship. This was impressive given the team had only just come together in the final few months of the season.
Temple Buell had had his fun in Formula One. Finishing two rounds of the World Championship inside the top ten would be an incredible achievement for a new team and Buell would recognize that it likely would not get much better, especially since Maserati was fully out of the Formula One business and the mid-engined Cooper showed the way of the future. To continue to take part would cost a lot more money, money Buell wasn't necessarily willing to spend.
Chassis 2534 would make its way to New Zealand over the winter of 1958 and 1959. It would continue to race into 1959 and then would end up in Turin, and later a private collection. Chassis 2533 would be the most famous of the two chassis since Fangio had a spell behind the wheel. It would be sold to Scuderia Centro Sud late in 1959 and then would make its way to the United States in 1960 where it would take part in the United States Grand Prix at Riverside. It would then go into private ownership, including a spell with Ralph Lauren during the late-1980s.
Buell would leave Formula One, but would still be very much involved in the automotive scene. He would still enter sportscars, but he would also focus on a Ferrari dealership his founded in Denver along with Adolfo Farland. It would be known as Farland-Buell Inc. and would be one of just a couple of west coast importers. Buell would end up living his latter days in Santa Barbara, California. It would be there, in early January of 1990, that he passed away.
Temple Buell would not be seen in Formula One again. It would be a remarkable appearance/disappearance act. Most teams that are here today and gone tomorrow barely make a splash within the sport. To finish in the top fifteen is usually an incredible achievement under such conditions. But Buell's team would be different. Right from the word go his team seemed a mainstay top ten runner. And the vanishing from the team after just a third of a season would perhaps leave the most unanswered questions of any fly-by-night team to ever make an appearance in Formula One.
Juan Manuel Fangio, one of the most famous formula one drivers got kidnapped by Fidel Castro's revolutionaries forces in 1958 Cuba
Scuderia Buell's Maserati 450 S, the car that Fangio could not race with
By 1957, The Maserati 450 S was one of the most powerful sports cars at the moment, with 400-hp and a V8 engine
able to surpass Ferrari as Fangio demonstrated by winning the "12 hours of Sebring" with a 450 S in '57.
Despite being an excellent car, a chain of unfortunate events caused this car to be left
out of formula 1.
The first one was on its debut in the "1000 km of Buenos Aires" with Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss at the wheel and despite this fearsome duo, the car failed to finish the race due to mechanical problems.
The second one, was when the Cuban Grand Prix took place a year later in 1958. At that time, The Cuban
government was facing a difficult time. People were unhappy, and the revolutionaries forces (led by Fidel Castro) gained more strength and relevance with each passing day, and abroad, the image of the Cuban government increasingly deteriorated.
Fulgencio Batista, Cuban president at that time, The dictator, saw the Formula One races as a good showcase to wash his regime's face. The photo on the podium with the world champion, Juan Manuel Fangio —one of the legends of this sport, considered by many to be the best driver of all time and who won 5 world titles— was Batista's main goal to whitewash the repression. The attention of the whole world was on Cuba, expecting the race where Fangio did the pole position with Scuderia Buell's car. But he would never race.
That night, July 26, Manuel Uziel, a member of the revolutionary movement, pressed a pistol against Fangio's back in the hall of the Lincoln Hotel in Havana and forced him to leave the building with him.
In an unknown location, Fangio was taking it all in his stride and was being treated to a slap-up meal of steak and potatoes before "sleeping like a blessed one" in a well-furnished apartment. Convinced he was not in danger, he later said he sympathised with his captors' actions.
The day of the race arrived, and Fulgencio Batista insisted that the Grand Prix was to go ahead anyway. The 1958 Cuban Grand Prix edition was a total failure for Batista. As if Fangio's kidnapping wasn't enough, The local driver Armando Garcia Cifuentes lost control of his yellow and black Ferrari and went head on into a bunch of spectators lining the circuit and left six spectators dead and a total of 40 injured.
Fidel Castro's plan had worked out perfectly, not only was the race cancelled, but also the causes of his movement echoed around the world. The time had come to free him, which turned out to be more complex than kidnapping him. They could not hand him over to the Cuban authorities, since in case something happened to him they would blame the rebels. Fangio came up with the ideal plan: the pilot would be delivered to the Argentine embassy headed by Raúl Lynch Guevara, cousin of Che Guevara. After 30 hours of a comfortable kidnapping, Juan Manuel Fangio was back safe and sound.
In this photo, released by news agencies at the time, Fangio gives statements after the kidnapping. (Photo: Fangio Museum of Buenos Aires)
"They never blindfolded me. They apologized a hundred times. I found them to be very friendly. I told the rebels that if they had kidnapped me for a good cause, I agreed. Their treatment was familiar and their intentions cordial,"
were the first Fangio's words to the press after the release.
Fangio never held a grudge against his kidnappers: they ended up on very good terms and even became great friends.