Masten Gregory was a racing driver from the United States who competed in Formula One between 1957 and 1965. He was the first American driver to reach the F1 podium, and he did it in his debut race at the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix.
Masten was a fearless and flamboyant racer, a man who defied death and made history. He was Masten Gregory, the first American driver to stand on the Formula One podium. Gregory was not just a podium finisher, he was a trailblazer, a survivor, and a hero. He was the first American F1 podium finisher.
He also raced in various sports car events, winning the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans with Jochen Rindt. In this article, we will explore his amazing career, his daring driving style, and his miraculous escapes from crashes. We will also discover how he earned the nickname “The Kansas City Flash” and why he is considered one of the greatest American drivers of all time.
Masten Gregory – Early Life
Gregory was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1932, and inherited a fortune from his father’s insurance company. He started racing in 1952, driving an Allard in local SCCA events.
He soon switched to a Jaguar and won several races in America. In 1954, he was invited to his first international race, the 1000 km of Buenos Aires, where he drove a Ferrari.
He moved to Europe in 1955, and continued to race Ferraris in sports car events, such as the Tourist Trophy and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He also made his first attempt at qualifying for a Formula One race, the Italian Grand Prix, but failed to make the grid.
Masten Gregory – F1 Driver For Maserati
In 1957, he finally made his F1 debut, driving a privateer Maserati at Monaco. He qualified seventh, and drove a brilliant race to finish third behind Juan Manuel Fangio and Tony Brooks.
He became the first American driver to stand on an F1 podium, and also scored the first points for an American constructor, as his car was entered by Temple Buell.
Masten Gregory – F1 Driver for Several Teams
Gregory continued to race in F1 until 1965, driving for various teams such as
Masten participated in 43 World Championship races and started 38 of them. He achieved two more podium finishes, at the 1959 Portuguese Grand Prix and the 1960 Italian Grand Prix.
He also raced in numerous non-Championship races, winning two of them:
- The 1959 Modena Grand Prix
- The 1962 Kanonloppet.
Gregory was known for his fearless driving style and his habit of jumping out of his car before it crashed.
He survived several spectacular accidents, such as at the 1958 French Grand Prix. Masten bailed out of his Maserati at over 100 mph when he saw a barrier ahead.
He also escaped unhurt from a fiery crash at the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix, where he was thrown out of his Cooper when it hit a telegraph pole.
Masten Gregory – Racing Outside F1
Besides F1, Gregory also pursued his dream of racing at the Indianapolis 500. He entered the race four times between 1963 and 1966, but failed to qualify twice and retired twice.
His best result was tenth in 1964.
Gregory’s greatest achievement came in sports car racing, when he won the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans with Jochen Rindt.
They drove a Ferrari 250LM for the North American Racing Team (NART), and beat the factory Ford GT40s and Ferraris.
Gregory also won the 1961 Targa Florio with Stirling Moss, driving a Camoradi Maserati Tipo 61.
Masten Gregory – Retirement
Gregory retired from racing in 1972, after finishing second at the 12 Hours of Sebring with Mario Andretti. He moved to Italy, where he lived until his death in 1985 from a heart attack.
Masten Gregory was one of the most versatile and accomplished drivers of his generation. He raced in different disciplines, continents, and eras, and faced some of the greatest drivers in history.
Gregory never gave up on his passion for racing, even when he faced challenges and disappointments. He is a true legend of motorsport.