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NEW KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
John Bentley
December 06, 1954
Umberto Maglioli, a handsome 26-year-old Italian, sweeps his big red Ferrari from one end of Mexico to the other?averaging 107 mph?to win the world's toughest road race
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December 06, 1954

New King Of The Mountains

Umberto Maglioli, a handsome 26-year-old Italian, sweeps his big red Ferrari from one end of Mexico to the other?averaging 107 mph?to win the world's toughest road race

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For the fourth day's run, 437 miles from Durango to Chihuahua, there are only 95 cars and here, for Maglioli's big Ferrari, the road straightens out. He has a six-minute lead on Hill, and he runs for Chihuahua as if the whole race pack were a car length behind. For the first leg to Parral he averages 112 miles an hour, breaking his own 1953 record. From Parral to Chihuahua he again breaks his own record, hitting over 160 on the long straightaways, and averaging 130 miles an hour. Hill is a well-beaten second, 25 minutes behind, his rear-axle assembly working loose, valve timing off, a magneto out of kilter after the blistering run. Then, for the last short run to the finish at Juarez, Maglioli backs away, playing it safe, knowing that he has it so long as he keeps Hill behind him.

A ROARING ESCORT

At dawn of the final day, outside Juarez, aficionados bivouac to be sure not to miss the run for home. By mid-morning there are 100,000 crowding the finish at the Mexican Aeronaves Airport. Private planes pick out the red of Maglioli's Ferrari, trailed by Hill's blue and white. As Maglioli comes into the finish 134 miles an hour, 50 feet overhead a roaring escort of planes sweeps across the line with him.

He has come 1,908 miles at an average of 107.9 miles an hour, beating World Champion Fangio's 1953 time by 30 minutes. The Porsche team of Hermann and Juhan sweep across the line not a length apart, both averaging over 97 miles an hour for a small sports car record by more than four hours. Though their five teammates had been forced out, Crawford and Faulkner take first and second in the large stock class, to give Lincoln its third straight win. In the small stock class, Dodges win the first four places, and in the special European stock class, Alfa Romeos win the first five.

Eighty-seven of the 149 cars finish. Six in all?four drivers and two spectators?have been killed. Over 25 drivers left the wrecks of their cars back in the mountains. It is a costly racing game even for a winner such as Maglioli. From his $18,000 prize, only $5,000 will be left after expenses. However much it costs, most of the great ones will be back to try again. "Road racers are like roulette players," Maglioli, the new king of the mountains, explains it. "We who race know that it is dangerous, but once we get the fever, we are satisfied with nothing else."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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