You may consider Maserati to be a lavish luxury brand, fit for the well-heeled, but the Italian automaker has a storied history in auto racing. An early racer was the Tipo 26, which won the 1,500cc class of the 1926 Targa Florio. The racing program grew, and won the Indy 500 in 1939 and 1940, and would follow with decades of strong presence in motorsport. The program could trace its roots back to 1914, and at this year’s Monterey Motorsport Reunion (Aug 14-17, 2014), a century of Maserati racing will be celebrated with a glorious gathering of racecars.
Every year, as the classic and vintage car world gather’s at Pebble Beach, the real thrill seekers flock to the nearby Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. Each year a different brand is celebrated, where the original racers throughout history make their way around the track. With Maserati, there is a wonderful selection of cars that will be rounding the circuit. Here are some of our favorites through history:
Maserati had four Targa Florio wins from 1937 to 1940, but the racing got serious after WWII, when it took to Grand Prix racing with the 1954 Maserati 250F. Unlike modern racing programs where a new car is designed and built every offseason, the 250F hung around for an impressive seven years. It was piloted by racing royalty such as Juan Manuel Fangio and Sir Sterling Moss.
While Maserati was a major presence in Formula 1 racing, it was also successful in sportscar racing, also known as GT racing. These cars were based on road cars, modified for the track. One such example is the A6G. It featured a 2.0-liter inline-6, making 160-190 horsepower.
The A6G grew to the A6 GCS before it was replaced by the 1957 Maserati 250S. The 2.5-liter inline-4 made an impressive 235 horsepower, however it did not have any significant victories in its lifetime.
After the success of the 250F, the lack of wins from successive cars and a poor financial situation of Maserati put the Italian company in a tough spot. When it started selling plenty of the 3500GT road car, it had the resources to create a truly amazing racecar, the Tipo 61, or Type 61 “Birdcage.” The carefully crafted space frame represents a beautiful marriage of form and function. It raced in the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans, though it did not win due to reliability issues. It did win the 1000 km Nürburgring race, though.
Maserati would continue to sell road cars through the years, but its racing program fell off. Ferrari purchased Maserati in 1997, and in 2004 that unleashed a monster. The Ferrari Enzo-based MC12 features a 6.0-liter V12, making 630 horsepower and 481 pound feet of torque. Initially, 25 road cars were built and then Maserati made four versions of the MC12 GT1. In 2005, the MC12 GT1 scored twice as many points as the second-best Ferrari team in the FIA GT Manufacturers’ Cup.
The GranTurismo was used as the base vehicle for a spec racing series of only this model of vehicle. It features a 4.7-liter V8 under the hood, and there are ten participants in the series. One of these cars cost €120,000 ($165,000), and participation in just one round of the series is €30,000 ($41,000). The vehicle is similar to the GT racecars that compete throughout Europe and around the world. We might not see another Maserati F1 car, but the GT class is near to Maserati’s roots, and we can expect many vintage GT racers when 100 years of Maserati racing takes to the track next year at Laguna Seca.
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