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#1 VAR1016

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Posted 09 October 2002 - 21:37

Nowhere else but on this forum is it possible to find such a knowledgeable group - and one I can say that is frequently most erudite too.

I am curious about one Tony Parravano, apparently the owner of a substantial number of sports-racing Ferraris in the early to mid 1950s. I have a picture of him standing next to his Ferrari 340 road car. He has the look of a 24-carat Vaselino.

I have been told that some of his connexions may have been not quite 16 Annas to the Rupee and indeed that he disappeared - rumoured to have ended up perhaps in a cement overcoat.

Does anyone have more information about this exotic character?

Thanks

PdeRL :smoking:

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#2 Joe Fan

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Posted 09 October 2002 - 21:54

Cabianca is the one who can give you all the details but Parravano disappeared days before he was to show up in court to enter a plea for tax evasion.

#3 Doug Nye

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Posted 09 October 2002 - 22:09

:eek: .... :cool:

#4 WGD706

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Posted 09 October 2002 - 22:35

By 1957, Tony Parravano, a housing developer in the burgeoning Southern California area, faced mounting tax problems with the IRS. The Palm Springs races in April of 1957 turned out to be the last races for the Scuderia Parravano. Within two months, the IRS had stepped in and seized Parravano’s shop and assets, including cars. In April of 1960, Tony Parravano, one of the most colorful personalities, and a pivotal figure in early American Sports Car racing, disappeared, never to be heard from again.
The IRS began liquidating the assets of Parravano, selling off his remaining racing cars.The vehicles seized by the Feds were all auctioned off in a Save-On supermarket parking lot.
Shelby scored a number of wins at home in 1955, most often in one of the Ferraris owned by West Coast construction tycoon Tony Parravano. It was during a car-buying tour of Italy for Parravano that Shelby got his first ride in a Grand Prix car. "It was him that got Maserati to give me a Formula One," said Shelby. "I could' ve driven for the factory, Maserati, in '56 if I wanted to, but I couldn't stay over there. You know, I had the kids back in Texas and I couldn't stay for the whole season."
In the March 1998 issue of Road&Track, there is a story about 'Tony Parravano, Fifties Mystery Man' is you can find an issue.

#5 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 09 October 2002 - 22:58

American Ferrari entrant Tony Parravano purchased a 4.9-liter Ferrari 375 Plus in 1954 and two 4.9-liter Ferrari 410 sports cars in 1955. Some of his drivers were Shelby and Maglioli.

#6 VAR1016

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Posted 09 October 2002 - 23:01

Originally posted by WGD706
By 1957, Tony Parravano, a housing developer in the burgeoning Southern California area, faced mounting tax problems with the IRS. The Palm Springs races in April of 1957 turned out to be the last races for the Scuderia Parravano. Within two months, the IRS had stepped in and seized Parravano’s shop and assets, including cars. In April of 1960, Tony Parravano, one of the most colorful personalities, and a pivotal figure in early American Sports Car racing, disappeared, never to be heard from again.
The IRS began liquidating the assets of Parravano, selling off his remaining racing cars.The vehicles seized by the Feds were all auctioned off in a Save-On supermarket parking lot.
Shelby scored a number of wins at home in 1955, most often in one of the Ferraris owned by West Coast construction tycoon Tony Parravano. It was during a car-buying tour of Italy for Parravano that Shelby got his first ride in a Grand Prix car. "It was him that got Maserati to give me a Formula One," said Shelby. "I could' ve driven for the factory, Maserati, in '56 if I wanted to, but I couldn't stay over there. You know, I had the kids back in Texas and I couldn't stay for the whole season."
In the March 1998 issue of Road&Track, there is a story about 'Tony Parravano, Fifties Mystery Man' is you can find an issue.


That's fascinating stuff; many thanks. I was given the impression that some of his activities were a little nefarious (although personally, I think that income tax is fair game) but then it was the IRS that settled Al Capones hash!

PdeRL

#7 Don Capps

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Posted 10 October 2002 - 00:29

You really need to get a copy of American Sports Car Racing in the 1950s by Michael T. (cabianca) Lynch, William Edgar, and Ron Parravano.

#8 dmj

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Posted 10 October 2002 - 08:53

Do I have a fade of memory or I seem to recall that a car dissapeared at the same time as Parravano, leading many to believe that he escaped to Mexico?
Also, weren't there a Siata 208 spider raced for Parravano by Ernie McAfee? I believe that car also dissapeared later and no one knows its fate? It was long ago when I read about him and these questions are purely from my memory but i would appreciate if someone can give me more details about that Siata...

#9 David McKinney

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Posted 10 October 2002 - 11:26

As Don says, you need the Lynch/Edgar/Parravano book
From my memory of the book, when the net started closing, Parravano put as many cars as he could into storage in Mexico. They were brought back in 1966, after it became clear Parravano wasn't going to show up. Can't remember if the Siata was among them (but it'll be in the book...)

#10 VAR1016

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Posted 10 October 2002 - 14:35

Originally posted by David McKinney
As Don says, you need the Lynch/Edgar/Parravano book
From my memory of the book, when the net started closing, Parravano put as many cars as he could into storage in Mexico. They were brought back in 1966, after it became clear Parravano wasn't going to show up. Can't remember if the Siata was among them (but it'll be in the book...)


This all most interesting. So the cars were in storage for over seven years?

I wll have to look out for that book.

Meanwhile I hope that others in this forum may have more memories.

Thanks

PdeRL

#11 dmj

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Posted 10 October 2002 - 15:45

http://home.san.rr.c...cr50s/index.htm

#12 Joe Fan

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 13:21

Originally posted by Don Capps
You really need to get a copy of American Sports Car Racing in the 1950s by Michael T. (cabianca) Lynch, William Edgar, and Ron Parravano.


Doh! Absolutely if you want to get more detailed information about Parravano's involvement in racing , this is the book. :up:

#13 VAR1016

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 16:01

Originally posted by Joe Fan


Doh! Absolutely if you want to get more detailed information about Parravano's involvement in racing , this is the book. :up:


Thanks; i have ordered the book - from Amazon.co.uk - £25 plus postage.

PdeRL

#14 cabianca

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Posted 14 October 2002 - 05:16

Gentlemen, gentlemen! Let's set the historic record straight. Starting from the first post on this thread.
1) The Parravano cars were auctioned off in the parking lot of a Savings and Loan (a type of US bank) in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, not a Sav-On drugstore.
2) Shelby did not win "a number of events" in Parravano cars. He won two! Seattle Seafair on 31 July 55 and Palm Springs on 26 Feb 56. This does not count preliminary events on those weekends.
3) Parravano did not own two 410 Sport Ferraris. He owned one.
4) Ernie McAfee's Siata 208S was owned by Bill Doheny, not Parravano.
5) When the IRS closed in, Parravano made a run for Mexico with his cars. Some got through, some were stopped at the border. The cars seized at the border were the ones auctioned off. They included a Ferrari 121 LM, a 250 Tour de France (which ended up with Walt Disney's studio where it appeared in a movie), a 150S Maserati, a 450S Maserati and a 750 Ferrari Monza.
6) The Parravano cars in Mexico were sold by the family to Mexicans after Tony disappeared. Historian Stan Nowak tracked them down years later and collector Joel Finn brought them out.
7) I have personally reviewed all the Federal paperwork involving legal proceedings against Parravano. During this review at the Federal Records Center in Laguna Niguel CA, I was accompanied by noted California racing historian Jim Sitz. No Federal charge was ever brought against Parravano for anything but tax evasion. No money laundering, no drug smuggling, nothing but tax evasion. Parravano's business partner was also charged as a co-conspiritor in the same case. He walked away a free man from a Los Angeles courtroom on 27 January 1964 after paying $100 per count on five counts of a 27 count indictment. It is my opinion that had Parravano showed up in court (he disappeared on the Friday night before a Monday hearing scheduled on 11 April 1960), his punishment would have been similar. This has been confirmed to me and Parravano's son Ron, an attorney, by the attorney who handled the tax case for Tony. The Feds' case must have been a weak one, because the case was settled and Tony's wife ended up with most of the family assets after Tony's disappearance.

#15 David McKinney

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Posted 14 October 2002 - 06:50

Thanks for the clarification, Michael.
But this one bothers me: -

Originally posted by cabianca
6) The Parravano cars in Mexico were sold by the family to Mexicans after Tony disappeared. Historian Stan Nowak tracked them down years later and collector Joel Finn brought them out.

Until recently, I had always believed the cars were sold to Mexican interests, then brought back en bloc in 1966 by someone in Calfornia, after which most (or all?) were sold to the late Carl Bross. Which more or less fits with what you are saying here
However, my more recent understanding was that the family retained ownership throughout the Mexican period, and that it was they who retrieved the cars in 1966. The only source I can think for that revision of facts is the Lynch/Edgar/Parravano book mentioned in this thread (and with which you are familiar ;) )
Yet checking that again now I can find nothing more specific than "Some of the cars got through [to Mexico] and were kept in hiding in Ensenada and later sold by the family"
Either there's another passage in the book I can't find or, for some reason, I jumped to the conclusion that the sale "by the family" referred to 1966 in the US - the sort of jump I criticise others for making
Please tell me I'm not losing it completely...

#16 cabianca

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Posted 14 October 2002 - 23:57

David,
The Parravano cars in Mexico were definitely sold while in Mexico and were sold to Mexicans. At least one car, the 410 Sport was raced in Mexico under Mexican ownership. I believe Mrs. Parravano received about $30-35k when they were sold. The name escapes me for the moment, but one of the organizers of the Mexican GP owned at least some of the Parravano cars. Joel Finn ended up with the 350S (Finn says in his Maserati, The Postwar Sports Racing Cars, "...it [the 350S] was purchased by Tony Parravano in October, 1956...after a long sojourn in Mexico, it returned here in recent years." The book was published in 1977.) and Bob Dusek got the 410 Sport which he still has. He had an FBI agent stop by after he bought the car, but the concern was about importation duty, not Parravano's record. Dusek luckily had the paperwork to prove that duty had been paid by Parravano when he brought the car in from Italy. Bob also got a 500 Farina Mondial which may have a 735 or 750 Monza engine that Bob believes to be original to the car. I respectfully disagree, believing the car was originally delivered as a two liter. I don't know of any Parravano car that Carl Bross ever owned. Frank Arciero got the 375 Plus that was rebodied and had the chassis shortened by Sutton in Los Angeles. Arciero also got the remains of the 375 MM that Jack McAfee crashed in Bakersfield. That car was fitted with an ugly British Mistral plastic body and ran for a time with one of two 4.2 liter Maserati V-8s that Parravano had bought for an Indianapolis program that never happened. He paid for a Kurtis roadster, but it was never delivered. Arciero later ran one of the Maseratis at Indy in another Kurtis and also in a rear-engine Weisman. Neither qualified. The Arciero 375 Plus and 375 MM were purchased directly from the family or an agent thereof and were not among the Mexican cars nor the auctioned cars. Arciero and Tony were both beginning cement contractors in Detroit (can you say, "Would you like me to pour you a new driveway") before both came to California and achieved big bucks.

BTW, the reason I took Jim Sitz with me to the Federal Records Center was so someone else with the ability to know what they were seeing would view the original documents and evidence folders. I knew if nothing sinister turned up, I would be accused of being a shill for the Parravano family, even though when I did that portion of my research, I didn't even know them. I am proud to say that I now number several of the family as good friends.

#17 VAR1016

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Posted 15 October 2002 - 08:12

Originally posted by cabianca
David,
The Parravano cars in Mexico were definitely sold while in Mexico and were sold to Mexicans. At least one car, the 410 Sport was raced in Mexico under Mexican ownership. I believe Mrs. Parravano received about $30-35k when they were sold. The name escapes me for the moment, but one of the organizers of the Mexican GP owned at least some of the Parravano cars. Joel Finn ended up with the 350S (Finn says in his Maserati, The Postwar Sports Racing Cars, "...it [the 350S] was purchased by Tony Parravano in October, 1956...after a long sojourn in Mexico, it returned here in recent years." The book was published in 1977.) and Bob Dusek got the 410 Sport which he still has. He had an FBI agent stop by after he bought the car, but the concern was about importation duty, not Parravano's record. Dusek luckily had the paperwork to prove that duty had been paid by Parravano when he brought the car in from Italy. Bob also got a 500 Farina Mondial which may have a 735 or 750 Monza engine that Bob believes to be original to the car. I respectfully disagree, believing the car was originally delivered as a two liter. I don't know of any Parravano car that Carl Bross ever owned. Frank Arciero got the 375 Plus that was rebodied and had the chassis shortened by Sutton in Los Angeles. Arciero also got the remains of the 375 MM that Jack McAfee crashed in Bakersfield. That car was fitted with an ugly British Mistral plastic body and ran for a time with one of two 4.2 liter Maserati V-8s that Parravano had bought for an Indianapolis program that never happened. He paid for a Kurtis roadster, but it was never delivered. Arciero later ran one of the Maseratis at Indy in another Kurtis and also in a rear-engine Weisman. Neither qualified. The Arciero 375 Plus and 375 MM were purchased directly from the family or an agent thereof and were not among the Mexican cars nor the auctioned cars. Arciero and Tony were both beginning cement contractors in Detroit (can you say, "Would you like me to pour you a new driveway") before both came to California and achieved big bucks.

BTW, the reason I took Jim Sitz with me to the Federal Records Center was so someone else with the ability to know what they were seeing would view the original documents and evidence folders. I knew if nothing sinister turned up, I would be accused of being a shill for the Parravano family, even though when I did that portion of my research, I didn't even know them. I am proud to say that I now number several of the family as good friends.


Thanks Capabianca,

Most interesting


PdeRL

#18 hinnershitz

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 20:55

Originally posted by cabianca
1) The Parravano cars were auctioned off in the parking lot of a Savings and Loan (a type of US bank) in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, not a Sav-On drugstore.


Is there somebody out there, who can assign a date to this event?

I've just been presented with a picture of a bunch of cars at Riverside, with the question to help identify the meeting. As the Parravano-450S is clearly visible, I said: "1959" - and two days later somebody else turns up with a similar picture of the same bunch of cars and a proper caption: Riverside, September 1957 .

I understand, that this car was never raced by Parravano, and in September 1957 it is supposed to be either hidden away by Parravano himself or seized by the IRS. So what it is doing at Riverside? The more I read about this, the more contradicting information comes up.

1. This old thread at TNF , where it is stated, that the car was sold to Martinez already in 1957;

2. The Lynch/Edgar/Parravano-book, which says: "The IRS made it's next move, but not before Parravano made his. In 1958 , he undertook to trailer several cars to Mexico to avoid impending seizure and sale by IRS officials...", which contradicts:

Originally posted by WGD706
By 1957, Tony Parravano, a housing developer in the burgeoning Southern California area, faced mounting tax problems with the IRS. The Palm Springs races in April of 1957 turned out to be the last races for the Scuderia Parravano. Within two months, the IRS had stepped in and seized Parravano’s shop and assets, including cars.



3. The statistics at barchetta.cc , which give the date of the sale as March 1959.

and finally:

4. This lovely page on Billy Krause , with pictures of the car from Pomona, Feb 1, 1959, entered by Martinez but still in Parravanos colours, and from the same track, March 7, with a new livery. Well, if Martinez bought the car in March 1959, how could he enter it in February? I can't really imagine the IRS lending it to him.

Can somebody help me sorting out the chronology of these events? Thank you.

#19 teegeefla

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 22:25

In the issue of Motor Racing newspaper dated June 13-20, 1958 it says:

"Cars Up For Tax Sales

Three cars and other equipment from the vast Tony Parravano scuderia are involved in sales authorized by the Internal Revenue Service, MotorRacing has been informed.

The first is scheduled in San Diego, where sealed bids are being sought on a 1955 Ferrari Spyder, motor No. 0484LM, along with a 1951 Chevrolet pickup and a race car trailer plus miscellaneous gear. Bids will be opened June 17 and should be addressed to: Robert T. Deardorf, Internal Revenue Service, 3755 Sixth Ave. San Diego 3, Calif.

On June 20, a public auction is set at 7728 Burnett St., Van Nuys, Calif., 1 .pm., involving a 1955 Ferrari Monza, motor No. 0538M, a Maserati 450S motor No. 350, and an auto trailer, all in separate transactions.

Required forms and other data may be secured from any district IRS office in Southern California."


In the Sept 5-12, 1958 issue it reports:

"Coolidge, Slavkin Highest Bidders

Van Nuys, Calif.

Spirited bidding marked the public auction of two machines from the Tony Parravano scuderia seized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for delinquent taxes recently.

One, a 1955 Ferrari Monza, went for a top bid of $3500 to Sidney Coolidge, North Hollywood. He also was high bidder at $275 for an accompanying trailer.

Ben Slavkin, a Los Angeles professional auctioneer, was successful bidder for a 1956 Maserati at $4550. The sale was conducted here by W.D. Roeder, Inglewood district manager of the IRS, with nearly 50 in attendance."

For more info, including some pics of Parravano's cars and wanted poster check out:

http://www.ferrarich...ead.php?t=49143

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#20 hinnershitz

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 23:26

Thank you for the quick reply. That's really interesting.

So the Maserati left Parravano in June 1958. In my previous post I forgot to mention Billy Krause's statement: "Dr. Rey Martinez and Jack Brumby bought it in January, 1959." (not giving the name of the seller). I never heard of Ben Slavkin, but is it possible that he resold the car to Martinez? It looks that Martinez did the first race entry in a hurry, not re-painting the car, so it is likely that he bought it just shortly before this, which makes January 1959 seem likely.

Another question: when did IRS start to inquire Parravano. April 1957 has been mentioned as a date, but re-reading the Lynch/Edgar/Parravano-book, it looks like they already got interested in early 1956. This would have been before the shopping tour to Italy (the date of acquisition for the Maserati is always given as October 29, 1956), so what did Parravano have in mind when he spent his money?

#21 WINO

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 23:46

There seem to have been two IRS auctions involved when Parravano's cars were sold, one in the Valley for those cars that were left behind [including the 450S engine mentioned, either a spare 4.5 or one of the Indy 4.2 units] and one in San Diego for the cars that were caught on the way to Mexico [including chassis 4502].

A number of years ago I interviewed Dr Rey Martinez, who said he paid $3,000 fo the 450S. He could not remember the exact date of the auction, but it must have been late 1958. The car's first race appearance under new ownership was at the end of Jan 1959 [more than two years after it was built!!!] at Pomona, still in Parravano livery. It was raced until 1962.

WINO

#22 Frank S

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 02:14

Originally posted by Don Capps
You really need to get a copy of American Sports Car Racing in the 1950s by Michael T. (cabianca) Lynch, William Edgar, and Ron Parravano.

Have you looked at the price of this thing on Amazon.com?

I'm beginning to wish I'd bought a dozen ...

And to wonder if Michael T. has plans to change the list price on his order page ...

--
Frank S

#23 VAR1016

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 09:49

That's extraordinary.

I took the advice given a couple of years ago and bought a copy for £25; on the inside of the cover the original price was given as $39.95.

About the only good investment I have ever made!

PdeRL

#24 hinnershitz

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 12:55

Does this mean 10 copies of that book would have bought a Maserati 450S in 1959? :drunk:

Anyway, I just have to post the original quiz picture:

Posted Image

This was identified by a proud owner of the book "The Fabulous Fifties - Sports Car Races in Southern California" by Art Evans (I don't have it), which has a picture of the same bunch of cars forming a starting grid, with the caption "Riverside, September 21/22, 1957".

You can clearly see the 450S in Parravano livery. Everything I heard so far points to the assumption that it was still in Parravanos hands in September 1957. But this appearance is mentioned nowhere. So is it really true, that it was never raced by Parravano? What is it doing among those cars, surely not the categorie it is supposed to have started in. And who's driving it?

#25 WINO

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 13:14

Skip Hudson is driving it. It was not a race, just a informal demonstration lap to celebrate the opening of Riverside in 1957. It was the second and final public appearance of the 450S under Parravano ownership, the first being a January 1957 test weekend at Willow Springs.

WINO

#26 VAR1016

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 09:55

Circumstances dictate that I have to sell a lot of my possessions. Accordingly I have put my copy of American Sports car Racing in the 1950s up on ebay.

It may be seen here:

http://cgi.ebay.co.u...me=STRK:MESE:IT

Apologies for using the forum for this but I thought that it might be of interest.

PdeRL

#27 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 10:24

Originally posted by cabianca
7) I have personally reviewed all the Federal paperwork involving legal proceedings against Parravano. During this review at the Federal Records Center in Laguna Niguel CA, I was accompanied by noted California racing historian Jim Sitz. No Federal charge was ever brought against Parravano for anything but tax evasion. No money laundering, no drug smuggling, nothing but tax evasion. Parravano's business partner was also charged as a co-conspiritor in the same case. He walked away a free man from a Los Angeles courtroom on 27 January 1964 after paying $100 per count on five counts of a 27 count indictment. It is my opinion that had Parravano showed up in court (he disappeared on the Friday night before a Monday hearing scheduled on 11 April 1960), his punishment would have been similar. This has been confirmed to me and Parravano's son Ron, an attorney, by the attorney who handled the tax case for Tony. The Feds' case must have been a weak one, because the case was settled and Tony's wife ended up with most of the family assets after Tony's disappearance.


Then the million dollar question remains. Why did Mr. Tony Parravano remain disappaered and/or is his whereabouts never made public after all these years?????

I assume I can put away the Brock Yates theories for good?

#28 WINO

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 12:50

Not sure what Brock Yates' theories are about Tony Parravanos whereabouts, but it is most likely that Tony has been keeping Jimmy Hoffa company all those years.

WINO

#29 jcbc3

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 13:03

Originally posted by VAR1016
Circumstances dictate that I have to sell a lot of my possessions. Accordingly I have put my copy of American Sports car Racing in the 1950s up on ebay.

It may be seen here:

http://cgi.ebay.co.u...me=STRK:MESE:IT

Apologies for using the forum for this but I thought that it might be of interest.

PdeRL



LOL - nifty little profit if it sells. :lol:

Anyway, good luck on the move and selling of surplus stock.

#30 Peter Morley

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 13:16

Hope you sell it, I just found a copy with a UK car book seller for £29.99!!

#31 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 13:26

Originally posted by WINO
Not sure what Brock Yates' theories are about Tony Parravanos whereabouts, but it is most likely that Tony has been keeping Jimmy Hoffa company all those years.

WINO


Brock Yates book on Ferrari caused quite a stir some 10 years ago. It was called treasen if you as a Ferrarist read it.
It was told Piero Ferrari tossed a copy in one corner of his office when he was presented a copy.

Yates tried to shed light on Enzo Ferrari from so many angles, also his private life.
He questioned many things. Among others the connection (if there was any) between EF and the Maffia in Italy.
He concluded there wasnt any but named Parravano and the sudden disappearance of mid seventies engineer Caliri as the only connections of the 'Ferrari Story' with organised crime...

#32 WINO

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 13:40

I remember reading that book, but I agree with Cabianca that Parravano was just a tax cheat, without any connections to organize crime [unlike Hoffa]. Just Brock Yates' imagination going haywire.

WINO

#33 VAR1016

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 13:45

Originally posted by jcbc3



LOL - nifty little profit if it sells. :lol:

Anyway, good luck on the move and selling of surplus stock.


Thanks for the good wishes; as I am at present redundant, desperation dictates that some money has to be made - naturally I responded to the earlier posts on this thread - and I have given away far too much stuff in the past for silly money!

PdeRL

#34 fausto

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 16:04

Originally posted by Arjan de Roos


...................................sudden disappearance of mid seventies engineer Caliri as the only connections of the 'Ferrari Story' with organised crime...


Mr. Caliri is with us, the disapperaed engineer is Mr. Bussi, and he was kidnapped in Sardinia (not Sicily, mafia land)

#35 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 16:28

Indeed Bussi, my apologies. :drunk:

("I better put away this Yates book")

#36 arttidesco

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 01:48

I'd like to thank everybody on this thread who unknowingly contributed to my 2 part Scuderia Parravano blog inspired by a couple of Carlyle Blackwell photographs.