Carroll Shelby – The Edgar Ferrari and Maserati Years Page Three
Now even more impressed by the ease with which a smaller 6-cylinder Maserati could embarrass a 2-liter-more-advantaged V12 Ferrari, my father made a deal with Maserati for one of the factory’s newest and most potent creations—the 450S, mega-muscle-powered by a 4.5-liter 400-hp V8. In those days, that was horsepower tonnage.
The packed steamer out of Havana took the Edgar cars back to Miami, and Landaker sped them west to Los Angeles to prepare for the next Palm Springs event in April. But before that there would be Sebring and a dramatic display of two factory-entered Maseratis. Fangio, paired with Jean Behra, won the 1957 12 Hours in a new 450S, while Moss and Harry Schell made it a Maserati 1-2 finish with their second-place 300S. My father felt certain he would have the winning 450S for Shelby to drive at the Springs. But the Maserati factory, with its Fangio-Behra win in Florida, revised the plan. Sebring’s second-place 300S instead would go to the Edgar team, as a loaner, while the victorious 450S would be kept on, for at least a while, with the prospect of winning more races as a works car.
Stepping back to March 17th, a week before Sebring and after hauling the Ferrari 410 to a minor airport course race in Stockton, California, the rapidly-getting-worn Edgar 4.9 DNF’d. It was not the best of times, nor the worst of times. It was more like—limbo times.
Still wearing the Sebring race number 20 of Moss-Schell, Shelby practiced the Edgar-entry 300S at Palm Springs on Friday, April 6, 1957. It howled and, although far from being a 450S, the smaller car looked to be possibly good enough until Maserati delivered a big V8. In Saturday’s 5-lap Preliminary, Shelby, driving the 3.0-liter Maser, was first at the checkered to beat the 4.4-liter Ferrari 121 LM driven by his ongoing challenger, Phil Hill. So, fine and dandy. There was still hope that Shelby, even down 1400cc from Hill’s not-so-new 121, could, as Shelby’s hopes echoed, “Whip Enzo’s cars hands down.” The desert spa’s bongos beat once again, and parties that night seemed a carry-over of last November’s jolliness.
The center of attention at Palm Springs was on Sunday’s main event. Would it be Hill then Shelby, or Shelby then Hill? The Edgar 300S just didn’t have it, and Hill blitzed the stripe 49 seconds ahead of runner-up Shelby. My father was furious, not at his driver, but at Maserati for not sending the 450S when it should have. To make matters worse, we were looking at Hawaii International Speed Week as the next race, only a week off, and still no 450S. John Edgar would send the 300S to the Islands, and would also ship the 410 there. His contract with Maserati was to not race the Ferrari—but did that necessarily mean Phil Hill could not pilot the 410 in place of Shelby, especially if Shelby drove the 300S there on Oahu? The cars were loaded aboard the S.S. Lurline to sail southwest for the United States Territory of Hawaii, still three years shy of statehood.
The Hawaiian Islands in April 1957 were the way they were long before “The Descendants” movie indicted them to be today—lovely hula hands, versus land development and traffic. My parents took one of the ceiling-fan garden suites at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach. Shelby and Hill were there, too, as were heiress Barbara Hutton and her son, Lance Reventlow, who’d not yet built the Scarab but would drive one of the Edgar Porsches. If all that wasn’t truly “racing-in-paradise” for the Edgar entourage it was as close as it might ever get.
The sports car competition at Mokuleia, Oahu was run at the old Dillingham Field air base on the island’s north coast about 40 miles from Honolulu. It was there that the Edgar 410 became an item of debate. Contractually, in papers drawn between my father and Oficine Alfieri Maserati, Shelby was, to reiterate, permitted to only drive a Maserati—in this case, and in lieu of the undelivered 450S, that meant the factory-loaned 300S. But Phil Hill, it was reasoned in the Edgar encampment, could drive our 410 Ferrari, and so he did for the solo speed trap trials on Dillingham’s longest runway, the 3,800-ft Mauka Straight. Hill’s pass in the 410 was certified at 165.12 mph and proclaimed the fastest clocked car of the speed contest.
Two days later, on April 21st, Easter Sunday, Hill and the Edgar 410 were ready to go ahead and join the start grid for the 1-hour “Gold Cup Challenge” feature race. It was widely expected that he would be in it. Olympic swimming champion Duke Kahanamoku was there among other prominent islanders waiting to see Hill and the big red Ferrari from the Mainland in action. But in its re-reading, the Maserati contract insisted that John Edgar under no circumstances was permitted to enter a Ferrari in a sports car road race. To breach the agreement would surely end Maserati’s promise of a 450S.
Hill and the best-bet 410 were left on the sidelines, while, slow in the corners, Shelby drove the 300S Maser to third place behind winner Pete Woods in a Jaguar D-Type and runner-up Chuck Daigh’s Troutman-Barnes Special. Once again almost certain victory was denied Shelby because Maserati still hadn’t delivered its pledged V8.
As footnote to the disappointing episode for Hill on Oahu, a month later and still no 450S, my father, having more or less said to hell with the Maser contract, let Phil drive our 410 at Santa Barbara on a weekend when Shelby was in the east winning at Cumberland, Maryland with a rented 300S Edgar entry. Hill’s same-day tight-course Santa Barbara race in the long-wheelbase 410, after an early lead, allowed him a class win but only third-place finish overall.