Only Graham Hill has
attained victory at
the Indy 500, Monaco
Grand Prix and 24
Hours of Le Mans, but
16 others – including
Masten Gregory –
have tried all three
and achieved victory
in at least one. The
first was Louis Chiron
(Monaco winner in
1931, BELOW), but
Rindt came closest to
Hill’s record, grabbing
Monaco GP glory
five years after his
Le Mans triumph.
ifty years on, it remains one of the most
memorable triumphs in the history of the
24 Hours of Le Mans, a classic tale that
perhaps only this race can produce.
The North American Racing Team-entered Ferrari 250LM of Jochen Rindt
and Masten Gregory had suffered ignition
problems in the early stages of the 1965
race. Not only was the team on the verge
of retiring the car, but Rindt was already
in “civilian” clothes and ready to depart
when Gregory tracked him down and
convinced him to continue, despite the
car now being 10 laps down.
Rindt’s condition for staying – “only if
we drive flat-out, grand prix-style” – was
something Gregory readily agreed to, and
together they raced their hearts out and
into the history books, winning by five
laps. The Ferrari’s differential failed as it
was pushed back to the paddock…
So who was this Masten Gregory guy?
Well, a fast and seemingly fearless racer
who started competing at the age of 20,
in 1952, and hit the European sports car
scene in the mid-’50s. Winning the 1957
Buenos Aires 1000km earned him a ride
in the Scuderia Centro Sud-run Maserati
250F in Formula 1, and he scored a
remarkable third place on his debut in
the Monaco Grand Prix.
This was backed up by fourth places
at Pescara and Monza, yet despite these
impressive showings, Gregory’s F1 career
remained piecemeal, never completing a
season with one team. Twice this was
because of injuries sustained in bailing
out of a sports car at high speed as it
headed for a shunt!
Still, a second and third place for
Cooper in 1959, a non-championship F1
victory in a Lotus-BRM in 1962, and a
strong showing in the Indianapolis 500
gave some indication of Gregory’s open-wheel potential. However, it was in sports
cars that he did his best work, winning the
1961 Nurburgring 1000km in a “Birdcage”
Maserati T61, first in class at Le Mans in a
Porsche RS61 Spyder, and winning the ’ 62
Canadian GP in a Lotus 19 at Mosport.
After the death of Jo Bonnier at Le Mans
in ’ 72, Gregory quit racing to become a
diamond merchant in Amsterdam. In
November 1985, he died of a heart attack
in his sleep while at his winter home in
Italy, at the sadly young age of 53.
In the 1965 Indy 500, Gregory drove from the
back row to fifth place before his BRP-Ford
had to retire due to falling oil pressure.
The most beautiful
ugly racecar of all
time, the Ferrari
250LM was driven
hard and fast by
Masten Gregory and
Jochen Rindt in 1965
to take Ferrari’s final
overall victory in the
24 Hours of Le Mans.
Formula 1 highlight was starting third and
finishing second in the 1959 Portuguese GP at
Monsanto, driving a works Cooper T51-Climax.
WHO MAstEn gREgoRy
WHERE fRoM kAnsAs City to lE MAns