THE EDITOR GREATnESS THROUGH SImplIcITy
“While the W196 was crammed
with new tech and crushed the
opposition, Fangio and moss
preferred the ‘simple’ maserati
250F and revelled in its handling”
More even than his achievements as a driver, those ’70s
Eagles made Dan Gurney into a household name, and
earned Bobby Unser the reputation of being America’s
fastest racer. Robin Miller pays tribute, starting page 38.
Nothing lights a
fire under Marshall
Pruett like the
chance to write
about IMSA’s GTP
and GTO/GTU icons.
Picking the best was
hard, but the result
he KISS ethos – Keep It Simple, Stupid –
is one that rarely creates great racecars.
Generally, the machines that earned big
numbers at the time, and still earn big
plaudits decades later, are ones that have
incorporated technological breakthroughs
or introduced a completely fresh way of
attacking a problem. Think Mercedes-
Benz W196, Lotus 79, Williams-Renault
FW14B, Penske-Mercedes PC23B…
But the Maserati 250F (RIGHT) is one
obvious exception. As you’ll read in this
issue, there was nothing startling under
that car’s beautiful skin, particularly not
when compared with the W196. But while
the Benz was crammed with new tech
and crushed the opposition, its most
famous drivers, Juan Manuel Fangio and
Stirling Moss, preferred the “simple” Maser
and revelled in its glorious handling.
That kind of greatness is less quantifiable
than power outputs and results sheets,
but no less real. And anyway, here’s a
hard stat: the 250F won the first grand
prix of 1954, yet was still able to carry
Fangio to the 1957 World Championship,
and even win a non-points F1 race in ’ 58.
Longevity and relative simplicity is also
the mark of two of our other featured cars
this month. The Porsche 936 was driven
by heart – Porsche’s continuing desire to
win Le Mans overall, not merely rack up
class victories with 911 derivatives – and
it produced a gem that earned three LM24
victories over six years. Similarly, the Eagle
7200-7400 “family” eschewed the pursuit
of the big breakthrough to focus instead
on getting every crucial aerodynamic and
engineering detail right by thoroughly
thought-through design. Their superiority
turned these Eagles into some of the most
popular “customer cars” in Indy car history.
Customer cars are now a hot topic in
Formula 1 as ways are sought to cut costs
for smaller teams (see page 24). But at the
other end of the scale, the end that covers
free-thinking excess, don’t miss our story
on the greatest cars of IMSA’s GTP era…
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