It is an early open practice day a few days before official practice for the 1958 Italian Grand prix, scheduled for September 7th. The rather hefty gentleman overseeing activities in the background is Masten Gregory’s American sponsor Temple Buell. The man looking back at the camera in a light blue shirt and wearing sunglasses is the well known Ferrari expert, the American Hans Tanner. Tanner, a Modena resident, was always looking to be helpful, especially if there might be money in it. No doubt Buell filled his requirements.
That group is standing around a dark blue Maserati 250F which would be driven by Gregory in the Grand Prix. Here is Gregory, wearing the helmet, with the car and some of his mechanics, including Maserati’s great racing manager Guerino Bertocchi who wears his usual head gear.
The red Maserati 250F in the foreground is another Buell car. It is still wearing the number 28 which it carried during the prior Grand Prix on the streets of Porto in Portugal on August 28th. It was an ex-works car recently bought by Buell. At Porto it had been driven by Carroll Shelby who had brake trouble late in the race when in sixth position and then spun off just before the end which left him a non-finisher.
Temple Buell came from a wealthy family in Denver where is father was a successful architect. Buell found that Gregory, initially an up and coming sports car driver, was someone with whom he could exercise both his wealth and passion for racing. His money came from his mother who was a cousin of the mother of the famous sportsman/racer the Marquis Alfonso de Portago it is said.
Here are Buell and Gregory at an SCCA race at Thompson in Connecticut in 1956. Buell also supported other drivers, including Carroll Shelby, but Gregory was generally in the number one position. In 1957 Gregory drove a Buell-owned Maserati 450S, its motor enlarged to 5.7 liters, as if 4.5 was not enough for the “bazooka” as Fangio called it. At Caracas for the season-ending manufacturers championship sports car race, Gregory fortunately had had it fitted with a rollbar inside the headrest which was a good choice as it went upside down on one of the course’s expressway cloverleafs.
Photos by Peter Coltrin ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
All our best for the holiday season and the New Year.