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The Kansas City Flash: Masten Gregory & Ferrari

This one year old Ferrari 375MM, painted white with two blue stripes, is really being drifted hard at Goodwood on September 25, 1954 (look at the rubber track being left by rear wheel if you doubt how hard the car is being driven). The thin and courageous driver was named Masten Gregory who was from Kansas City, Missouri. Gregory, whose family had some money, had started his racing career with an Allard J2X at an SCCA race in Texas only two years before. He had then graduated to Jaguar C-Types before moving on to Ferraris. This 375MM gave the 22-year old Gregory an encouraging season's racing in Britain and Europe.

Gregory's talent did not go unnoticed by Ferrari or by others with whom he could arrange rides. He continued to race sports cars in Europe in 1955 and in the U.S. in 1956. He often drove cars for Temple Buell, the wealthy son of a famous Denver, Colorado architect, who gave Gregory numerous opportunities in the latest and best equipment. Masten Gregory's first F1 race was at Monaco in 1957 when he drove a Maserati 250F for Scuderia Centro Sud, a private team with close relations to Maserati run by Guglielmo Dei, and achieved a impressive third place, although he was two laps down.

Gregory continued his youthful looks, and his thick glasses into this image taken at Spa-Francorchamps at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1962. There he drove a UDT-Laystall Lotus 24-BRM but did not finish. Gregory never had a real factory drive, in either sports cars or F1, other than for Cooper in 1959, and worked mostly with second-string privateers. Nevertheless, he had considerable success, including a surprise win at Le Mans in 1965 with a North American Racing Team 250LM that he shared with new star Jochen Rindt. Gregory also appeared at the Indianapolis 500 several times in the 1960s but only made it into the show in 1966.

Gregory's last race was at Le Mans in 1972, driving a NART Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona to a dnf with Luigi Chinetti Jr. This was the Le Mans in which Gregoriy's old friend Joakim Bonnier lost his life in a terrible crash following contact with another competitor. After that The Kansas City Flash had had enough.

You may enjoy a charming biography of Masten Gregory: Totally Fearless by Michael J. Cox. a wonderful story of this brave American driver.

Photos by Louis Klemantaski and Yves Debraine ©The Klemantaski Collection – To see more photos from our archive go to:

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