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Ken Kavanagh's Formula One entries


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#1 Gabrci

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 21:42

This has been talked about here and here, but finally we've got an answer from the man himself.

The bottom line: he was never entered for Monaco, but did co-drive his car in Argentina with Jean Behra.

He typed the letter on a typewriter, but as he is quite frail, I wouldn't like to post it as it is, I rather typed it.

With the fall of the Peron government in Argentina, the main market for Maserati, where they sold milling machines, Argentina refused to pay their debts. Maserati’s main production was milling machines, they had to stop racing, close to bankruptcy and now controlled by the banks.

The official machines for 1957 were 2527, 2528 and 2529. The last car built in 1956 was 2526. In practice it was used as a hack car to get the gear ratios correct on the others in 1957. If not broken it was driven by Giorgio Scarlatti.

At the end of 1957 Maserati asked ex-motorcyclists if they would race for them but had to pay the expenses. I accepted and was given 2527. I tested the machine at Modena around Xmas 1957. Both Maserati and myself were happy with the results. The ship had already left Genoa with all the machines for Argentina, the first G.P. The car had to be sent to catch the ship at a French port.

All the drivers left about a month later on a special plane hired from Brazilian airlines. It was on this flight that I met and became friendly with the G.P. drivers.

The G.P. was run under terrible conditions, perhaps around 50 degree heat and impossible humidity. I shared my car with Jean Behra, but this is never mentioned. Stirling Moss drove a Cooper-Climax. This was a simple [unreadable] and the Climax was a common water pump engine of 1.5 liters on sale in England. The Moss car was built and entered by Rob Walker of London, but the Climax was bored out a little of over 2 liters.

With the front engined cars such as Maserati and Ferrari the heat was terrible. With the rear engined it was much cooler and the race was won by Moss. This signalled the coming end of the front engined cars.

I was to race in 6 more races but the Maserati was terribly expensive to maintain, whereas the Cooper was very cheap. The organizers wanted Coopers, drivers would accept less starting money.

In the Monaco G.P. the ex-works Maseratis were driven by Scarlatti, this was the car driven by Fangio in Argentina, the other by Maria de Filippis. I wrote for an entry but they wrote back and said NO. So I was never entered.

My next race was the Belgian G.P., but on the last practice lap the engine broke a con rod, and there was no time or spares to fix the engine for the race. The same thing happened to Masten Gregory. His was a Centro Sud Maserati. But they kept quiet, started on five cylinders just to get the starting money, and retired after half a lap.

I told the organizers what had happened to my car and for being honest they gave me half the agreed starting money to help cover expenses. After that Goodwood meeting [1959/03/30 Glover Trophy] I was entered to race at Aintree, but the son of a friend of mine, Harry Hinton, was seriously injured at Imola, falling from his Norton and the doctors asked me to stay in the hospital as no one spoke English. Hinton Jr. died after two weeks… after all this trouble I decided to return to motorcycling.

I finished doing public relations for Ducati, returning to Australia Xmas 1959 after 10 years to search for an importer, arriving there as a guest of the Italian embassy. I retired after Monza 1960.



And this is all true :)

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So that also means that he should have scored a World Championship point for his Argentine fifth place doesn't it?

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#2 Tim Murray

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 21:58

Originally posted by Gabrci
So that also means that he should have scored a World Championship point for his Argentine fifth place doesn't it?

Not in 1958 - shared points for shared drives were no longer awarded.

#3 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 22:10

Having seen the letter in its entirety (Thanks Gergely), the main point is here that perhpas Ken Kavanagh should be seen as a qualifier, or rather, not a non-qualifier any more.

But if this is the case, how could this be so wrong? Surely there must have been press mentions somewhere? Or was it a different era?

Also interesting that he definitely wasn't there for an event that is often claimed that he appeared.

Just a shame it comes as the man is old & frail rather than many years ago.

#4 Gabrci

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 07:19

Originally posted by Tim Murray
Not in 1958 - shared points for shared drives were no longer awarded.


Absolutely right, thanks for the correction!

#5 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 08:41

Thanks for the very interesting infos.

#6 Gabrci

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 09:53

Just getting back to this for a second, so am I right to say that neither Behra nor Kavanagh should have scored any points for this? I'm asking because Behra did score two points for "his" fifth place.

#7 ensign14

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 10:04

Hm. Did he actually drive in the race with Behra, or "share" in the sense of "you can drive my car as yours isn't here"? There's an obvious point on the lapchart where a driver change might have occurred, presumably Behra stopped for a tyre change?, but there's no contemporary mention of it that I can recall, perhaps because it would have deprived Behra of 2 points?

How many press chaps went over there anyway? I've never seen many pix of the event. Anyone have a number 4 Maser driven by someone without a chequered band on their helmet?

#8 Gabrci

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 10:19

From this: "I was to race in 6 more races but [...]" my understanding is that he did drive in the race, and also he wrote he shared his car, not that he gave his car to Behra.

Also this:

At the end of 1957 Maserati asked ex-motorcyclists if they would race for them but had to pay the expenses. [...] I tested the machine at Modena around Xmas 1957. Both Maserati and myself were happy with the results. The ship had already left Genoa with all the machines for Argentina, the first G.P. The car had to be sent to catch the ship at a French port.



I take this as he was signed as a driver.

So from these I guess that yes, he did drive in the race as well.

#9 David McKinney

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 11:41

There were no Officine Maserati entries in the 1958 Argentine GP :)

#10 D-Type

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 11:57

I wonder...
After 50 years could there be some confusion between the Argentine GP proper and the Buenos Aires GP? For example, what were the temperatures like during the latter race?

#11 Gabrci

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 12:04

Yes, I've been thinking about that too... but that he mentions Moss winning the race makes me I think reasonably sure that he doesn't confuse the two races. Also his memory seems to be sharp, every fact that he wrote seems correct.

#12 David McKinney

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 14:10

Likewise, I considered the BA GP, but Kavanagh and Behra didn't share a car in that race (either?)

#13 ensign14

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 14:35

Well, SOMEone had to ship the Maseratis to Argentina, why not the Officine on behalf of the privateers? Or maybe they were works entries in all but name a la NART in 1964? After all, Maserati were more or less bust at this point, weren't they?

#14 David McKinney

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 19:34

Gabrci made the leap from "both Maserati and myself were happy with the results" to Kavanagh being a works entry in Argentina, which he wasn't.
There were no works entries in that race, or in the BA GP which followed. Fangio and Menditeguy were entered by Scuderia Sudamerica and, yes, it is possible their cars were loaned by or leased from the factory, particularly as neither car stayed in 'Sudamerica' but were both sold to Europeans
Behra drove Kavanagah's car in the Argentine GP but a Centro-Sud car in the BA GP. Kavanagh drove his own in the latter race

#15 Gabrci

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 19:50

David, I didn't say he was a works entry - he was his own entrant, that's correct in the records. The question is only whether he drove his car in the race alongside Behra, and it looks like he did.

#16 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 19:55

Maserati was never bust in 57 or 58 !

#17 David McKinney

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 21:53

Originally posted by Bjørn Kjer
Maserati was never bust in 57 or 58 !

So why did they apply for "controlled administration" on 1 April 1958?

#18 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 22:35

David:
Short-term liquidity problems, not solvency problems.


all research Willem Oosthoek

#19 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 04:02

According to my info , contrary to article some reports , Maserati lost a lot of money on some machinery deals with Argentina , restructured the company , never insolvent , and never got any government money .
Right Jerry.

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#20 Barrie Hobkirk

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 04:59

Hi fellows,

I agree the wording today by Ken Kavanagh can be mis-leading but I wish to add my degree of expertise here.

Over the last 20 years I have collected near 30,000 photographs of just the 250F. Vast numbers from both LAT in London and our very own Ted Walker. Over the last few years I have especially been concentrating on one of the last grey areas of the 250F, South America. This has involved literally throwing cash in the direction of Argentina and Brazil in the hopes that something comes back. Some times it does but most times the money vanishes. I have managed to pick up Argentine magazine for most of the races held there.

Concerning the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix, I have 23 photographs of Jean Behre practicing and racing chassis 2527, I have 0 of Ken Kavanagh in the car.

I would also like to quote, if I may, the period report on this race in the March 1958 issue of Motor Sport.

"The three lightweight chassis Maserati cars used by the factory team in 1957 had new owners, two of them being bought by Fangio's Scuderia Sudamericana, and a third by the Australian racing motor-cyclist, Ken Kavanagh. ......... As Behra was without a car, Kavanagh lent him his, and delayed his motor-racing debut for a couple weeks, rather than see a potential winner standing on the track-side."

As we know Motor Sport's reporting was in general very good and when coupled with what I see in photographs, I have no reason to question this wording.

The Motor magazine offered perhaps an idea why Kavanagh did not try to race. "The Centro-Sud cars failed to arrive in time and Ken Kavanagh's Maserati only got here on Saturday the 18th, so Ken did not race the car."
His first Grand Prix race and no practice, and 50 degrees - not a good idea.

On the point of Behra shown in the charts as stopping, Autocar among others reported ".....and at 48 laps (out of 80) Behra stopped for a change of tyres...."

As for the Argentine magazines reporting on this race, the word Kavanagh does not appear.

Although I have the greatest respect for these incredibly brave men, these events were now some 50 years ago and after talking to many myself, I realize that details become clouded, even though to these heros, they are still crystal clear. I still read every word they write, in utter amazement.

Ken Kavanagh did share the car with Behra, in that Behra raced the car in the Argentine GP and Kavanagh raced it in the Buenos Aires GP.

I hope that helps clear this up.

Cheers,
Barrie

#21 Gabrci

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 06:45

Dear Barrie,

Thanks for your most expert contribution. So it looks as though he indeed didn't drive the car in the Argentine GP... I really don't know if his memory is playing tricks with him (which would be understandable) or he meant "gave" by "shared".

Is what he wrote about Monaco correct?

#22 David McKinney

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 11:19

Originally posted by Gabrci
Is what he wrote about Monaco correct?

I had earlier accepted what he'd written, against the record, but now have to wonder :confused:

#23 my_own_shadow

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 14:42

Today Ken celebrates his 87th Birthday!!! Congratulations and best wishes for many more to come! :D

#24 gerard BARATHIEU

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 18:21

does anyone know if Ken KAVANAGH bought à MATRA F3 in the late sixties ?