The Life of a Le Mans Winner

54M1A-7ABefore the Le Mans 24 Hours which will take place on June 12-13, 1954 this Scuderia Ferrari 375 Plus, carrying Ferrari’s latest 4.9 liter V12, sits in the pits waiting for the start. The long and well marked stick lying across the aluminum tonneau cover probably was used to determine the level of fuel in the car’s tank. The small tool kit on the rear deck will probably go with the car in case of mechanical trouble out on the circuit.

This Ferrari 375 Plus will be driven by José Froilán González and Maurice Trintignant. It was one of three works entries sent to Le Mans. In addition, the Cunningham team had a year old Ferrari 375MM spyder which they had modified in various ways and Luigi Chinetti had entered a 375MM berlinetta. The main competition to these Ferraris would be the works Jaguar team of three D-Types, a works Aston Martin team of two DB3S spiders and two DB3S coupés and Cunningham with their Ferrari and two powerful Cunningham C4Rs.

The outcome was in considerable doubt in the final hours with the González/Trintignant Ferrari with a slim lead over the Jaguar D-Type of Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt. All the other major competitors had by then fallen by the wayside, many from accidents due to the heavy rain at several times during the race. The Ferrari 375 Plus finally won with a lead over the remaining Jaguar of only three minutes. Here is the González/ Trintignant Ferrari during their winning run.

After Le Mans the wining Ferrari was sold to John Edgar for his California team and was entered by Edgar in the Carrera Panamericana Mexico scheduled for November 19-23, 1954. Ferrari also entered another 375 Plus to be driven by Umberto Maglioli who had finished sixth overall in a Ferrari in the prior year’s Carrera in which he shared his car with Carrera sponsor Mario Ricci.

Here is the Edgar entry before the start of the first day’s run which was from Tuxtla-Gutiérrez to Oaxaca, a distance of approximately 330 miles. At the wheel is Jack McAfee with his navigator and friend Ford Robinson next to him. They were the first car to be flagged away from the start on this initial leg. Part way along the first leg McAfee went off the road and the Ferrari overturned with the result that Robinson was killed and McAfee lightly injured.

After the Carrera John Edgar had the Ferrari repaired in Italy with a new body by Scaglietti in current style of the Modenese body builders with a nose treatment similar to that of the Parravano Ferrari 121LM.

In this form the Ferrari 375 Plus was raced several times the next year by McAfee before being sold. It was eventually acquired by the French Mas du Clos Collection and was rebodied once again back to the Pininfarina style with which it had won Le Mans.

Photos by Günther Molter ©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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