For many people who lived to see Fangio become a five-time World Champion the Maserati 250F is still responsible for their image of a proper Grand Prix car. With its classic good looks in all colours but especially in Italian racing red, it was present during the entire 2.5-litre era of 1954 to 1960. While Mercedes, Lancia, Ferrari, Vanwall and Cooper all shared World Championship honours, it was the 250F that gave weight to their performances. It won races too, and titles. Fangio won his greatest race in one of them. And on the other end of the scale – it allowed dozens of privateers to become a Grand Prix driver.
Jumping in at the last moment when Hans Herrmann forfeited his drive at the 1959 French GP for Scuderia Ugolini, Carel became one of those privateers. It was how the car had been intended – as a customer car. It says a lot for the underfunded Maserati factory that it decided to field a works team in 1955, raced Ferrari all the way in 1956 and reached a zenith with Fangio in 1957, with a car in its fourth development year, looking prettier than ever.
Their valiant efforts did force the Orsi owners to overstretch their financial limits, taking Maserati to the brink of bankruptcy. Several creditors gave the manufacturer time until the World Drivers Championship and World Sportscar Championship were won but while Fangio duly delivered the first, a disastrous season-closer in Venezuela led to Ferrari beating the Maseratis to the sportscar title. This meant the end of Maserati's factory involvement in Grand Prix racing – from then on, cars were strictly sold and serviced on a commercial basis.
Maserati 250F video
The car Carel raced in 1959 was chassis 2524 - to our latest knowledge at least, since Maserati chassis numbers are causes for heavy debate. It was a 1956 car which was sold to Francisco Godia Sales, who debuted the machine at Rheims, exactly three years before Carel's turn-out. 'Paco' Godia managed to claim fourth places in the German and Italian GPs before taking the car to South America to record a third place in the GP de la Republica Argentina at Buenos Aires in January 1957. The rest of the season brought the Spaniard no luck, a sixth in the season-closing Moroccan GP at Ain Diab the best he could muster.
Godia sold the car to Joakim Bonnier in the spring of 1958 and the Swede immediately raced it to second place in the Syracuse GP. Bonnier repeated the car's best result in the minor Caen GP and loaned the car to Phil Hill for the French GP, allowing the 1961 World Champion to make his Grand Prix debut. Hans Herrmann, who was poised to drive the car a year later in France, made his first acquaintance with 2524 in the 1958 German GP after Bonnier had handed over the car after practice. Giulio Cabianca was in the car at Monza, with Ulf Norinder reportedly also driving in practice, before Herrmann returned for the Moroccan GP.
Scuderia Ugolini took over the running of the car at the start of 1959, as it went into its fourth year of service and had already rapidly become obsolete over the 1958 season. The car's first outing came in the International Trophy at Silverstone, with Maria Teresa de Filippis driving, before Carel got his break at Rheims. It would turn out to be 2524's last Grand Prix appearance before Bonnier sold it to American Phil Cade, whose entry for the US GP at Sebring failed to materialize.
Cade continued to race it at home until he had a sizable crash at Watkins Glen in 1962. He kept the car, damaged as it was, and only sold it as late as 1988. Its new owner Bob Lubin sold it to Briton David Pennell in 1995 before the car reached its current owner, avid historic racer Joaquin Folch, in 1998. Back in Spanish hands, 2524 reached full circle and is now once more properly raced in historic events.