The Kansas City Flash

Ferrari, Masten Gregory, Goodwood

This one year old Ferrari  375MM, painted white with two blue stripes, is really being drifted hard at Goodwood on September 25, 1954 (look at the rubber track being left by rear wheel if you doubt how hard the car is being driven). The thin and courageous driver was named Masten Gregory who was from Kansas City, Missouri. Gregory, whose family had some money, had started his racing career with an Allard J2X at an SCCA race in Texas only two years before. He had then graduated to Jaguar C-Types before moving on to Ferraris. This 375MM gave the 22-year old Gregory an encouraging season’s racing in Britain and Europe.

Gregory’s talent did not go unnoticed by Ferrari or by others with whom he could arrange rides. He continued to race sports cars in Europe in 1955 and in the U.S. in 1956. He often drove cars for Temple Buell, the wealthy son of a famous Denver, Colorado architect, who gave Gregory numerous opportunities in the latest and best equipment. Master Gregory’s first F1 race was at Monaco in 1957 when he drove a Maserati 250F for Scuderia Centro Sud, a private team with close relations to Maserati run by Guglielmo Dei, and achieved a impressive third place, although he was two laps down.

Masten Gregory Gregory continued his youthful looks, and his thick glasses into this image taken at Spa-Francorchamps at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1962. There he drove a UDT-Laystall Lotus 24-BRM but did not finish. Gregory never had a real factory drive, in either sports cars or F1, other than for Cooper in 1959, and worked mostly with second-string privateers. Nevertheless, he had considerable success, including a surprise win at Le Mans in 1965 with a North American Racing Team 250LM that he shared with new star Jochen Rindt. Gregory also appeared at the Indianapolis 500 several times in the 1960s but only made it into the show in 1966.

Gregory’s last race was at Le Mans in 1972, driving a NART Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona to a dnf with Luigi Chinetti Jr. This was the Le Mans in which Gregoriy’s old friend Joakim Bonnier lost his life in a terrible crash following contact with another competitor. After that The Kansas City Flash had had enough.

You may enjoy a charming biography of Master Gregory: Totally Fearless by MichaelJ. Cox. a wonderful story of this brave American driver.

Photos by Louis Klemantaski and Yves Debraine ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com

To see more photos from our archive go to: http://www.klemcoll.com/TheGallery.aspx

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7 comments

  1. Jack Brewer · · Reply

    If possible you may wish to change the typo from “Master” to “Masten.”

    All the best,

    Jack.

    >

    Like

  2. We all agree… he was a “Master”.

    Like

  3. Jim sitz · · Reply

    When Masten raced his Jaguar C type in Argentina `1954, he was able to purchase
    the winning Ferrari 4.5 and arrived in California to run Pebble Beach, Unfortunately he
    smacked a tree in practice.
    While waiting in Los Angeles for repairs he told Phil Hill and Shelby he was all set
    to tackle racing in Europe at age 22. Both of them laughed at his being so audacious.!
    But seems to me Gregory got the last laugh, finishing 4th at Rheims with veteran Biondetti.

    By the time I arrived in Europe Masten entered his first GP event at Monaco and
    did splendid drive into 3rd–truly impressive, behind Fangio and Tony Brooks.!

    Jim Sitz
    Oregon USA

    Like

  4. Jack Brewer · · Reply

    The Gregory/Rindt 250LM was the last Ferrari to win at Le Mans. It’s a little jarring to consider it’s been more than half a century……When will a Ferrari win at Circuit de la Sarthe again?

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    1. One of the problems with spellcheck in its various forms is that even when you tell it that you don’t want it’s suggested change, it comes along afterwards and sticks the change in anyway!

      Like

  5. Masten Gregory was truly a prize on and off track, in or out of a race car. We loved being with him. My mother adored his rare personality and my father seated him in sports cars that he raced with great verge and with a driving style that at times seemed punishing to the machinery in hand. On January 11, 1958, Masten typed a letter to John Edgar and signed his name in blue ink: “It will be fun for me to drive for you again and this time I’ll be more careful about breaking your transmission chasing Shelby. Looking forward to seeing you in Cuba. Sincerely yours, Masten Gregory”. 44 days later Masten was with the John Edgar Enterprises sports car racing team in Havana to drive the Gran Premio in our well-used Ferrari 410 Sport. Shelby was at the wheel of our newer, hotter Maserati 450S. The race was short-lived, being stopped when on lap 5 the Cuban driver Armando Garcia Cifuentes’ Ferrari slid in racing surface oil and slammed into the spectator crowd. Stirling Moss in a Ferrari 335 S was declared the unfinished race winner, with Gregory second, Shelby third. The lethal incident, along with the bizarre rebel kidnapping of reigning World Drivers’ Champion Juan Manuel Fangio that kept him from entering that year, will be what people remember more often about that brief mid-Twentieth Century period of off-shore sports car racing.

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  6. Klemantaski Collection · · Reply

    Will,
    A wonderful pice of history! Thank you.

    THE KLEMANTASKI COLLECTION
    http://www.klemcoll.com

    Liked by 1 person

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