We are in the paddock at Palm Springs, Cvalifornia on Saturday, December 3, 1955 with the cars of Tony Parravano lined up along the airport runway that would form the main straight. Paravano, in the gray jacket, is inspecting the engine compartment of his new Maserati 150S which carries n. 205, hurriedly applied with masking tape. It will be driven by Ken Miles and win on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, it’s first time out. The masking tape was somewhat an indication of Parravano’s often last minute entry decisions which led to the sobriquet of “Saturday Night Tony.”
On the other hand, the Scuderia Parravano got a lot of press attention with its impressive and often-changing lineups featuring the latest from Ferrari and Maserati and top level California drivers. Parravano, a successful construction entrepreneur and home builder as well as racing sponsor, was dubbed “The Man with the Golden Screwdriver.”
The larger car behind Parravano which will carry number 208 is a 4.9 liter Ferrari 375+ which Carroll Shelby will crash on the first lap in the day’s preliminary big car race, seen here beforehand with Shelby at the wheel. After this disappointment the 375+ would be sold and have its chassis shortened to receive a re-body by California craftsman Jack Sutton. It then went to racing mogul Franck Arciero and would find success in the hands of a young Dan Gurney.
The next car, carrying number 207, is a Maserati 300S which Masten Gregory will drive. In the Saturday preliminary race he finished about 100 yards behind Ernie McAfee in Bill Doheny’s Ferrari 750 Monza. In the main event on Sunday, held in a rainstorm, the order would be reversed with Gregory winning not far in front of McAfee.
The berlinetta, last in line, with the number 210 on it is Parravano’s Ferrari 340 America, fitted unusually with Halibrand magnesium wheels. It was raced in two preliminary races by Bob Drake but would retire each time.
In 1957 the Internal Revenue Service, following a year-long investigation, took action against Parravano for claimed tax evasion, and eventually seized and sold some of his cars. On the evening of April 8, 1960, three days before a scheduled court appearance to attempt a settlement with the Service, Parravano was to go to a meeting with his attorney but never arrived at that meeting and was never seen again.
We wish to give thanks to the late Michael Lynch, along with Will Edgar and Ron Parravano for the many insights in their outstanding book American Sports Car Racing in the 1950s.
Photos by Peter Coltrin ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.kklemcoll.com
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