For 1954 Enzo Ferrari needed more power for his front line sports cars, so he built a successor to the 1953 375MM called the 375 Plus. There were a half dozen of these cars constructed, using a 4.9 liter version of the 4.5 liter motor of the 375MM. With one notable exception the 375 Plus was not successful in the hands of Scuderia Ferrari with the cars being sold off during season to private owners in the United States and South America. The exception in terms of racing success was the car above, chassis number 0396AM, which had won the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven by Froilán González and Maurice Trintignant.
The Le Mans-winning 375 Plus was then sold to John Edgar in California who ran a successful racing team there in the 1950s. The 375 Plus was flown into Los Angeles on American Airlines and after some preparation was entered by Edgar for the 1954 Carrera Panamericana to take place over November 19-23. Edgar’s lead driver was Jack McAfee, a Porsche dealer from Sherman Oaks, CA who had quite a bit of racing experience, starting with a modified MG TD. McAfee would drive the Ferrari with his old hot rod buddy Ford Robinson as his navigator. The Carrera was not new to them as they had competed in several prior runnings of the race. The Ferrari was certainly fast enough because McAfee later claimed they were exceeding 200 mph. On the first day they were at top speed when the Ferrari literally turned right due to a locked rear axle and went end for end down an incline. McAfee was amazingly unhurt but Robinson was killed. The Ferrari was sent back to Italy to be rebodied by Scaglietti and was away for a year. Both McAfee and Carroll Shelby would drive it over the next several years.
Interestingly, the 1954 Carrera, the last of these challenging and dangerous events, was in fact won by another 375 Plus driven by the factory open road specialist Umberto Maglioli and entered by its New York owner Erwin Goldschmidt.
We are sure that William Edgar may have some comments about the history of his father’s team.
Photo by Günther Molter ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com