Maserati 8CTF: The Italian car that shone in America

Ernesto Maserati's machine won the Indianapolis 500 and the Pikes Peak climb twice.

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Maserati has achieved international recognition for the design, style and performance of its unique cars. With a historic tradition of success in races and circuits around the world, its victories have made the brand a standard-bearer for Italian excellence. In fact, competition is part of their DNA. It was in the racing world where his myth began to grow.

The two consecutive victories achieved on May 30, 1939 and May 30, 1940 in the 500 Miles Indianapolis, one of the most important races in the world, with Warren Wilbur Shaw behind the wheel, they helped increase the brand's awareness in the United States and internationally.


Warren Wilbur Shaw
Warren Wilbur Shaw won the Indy 500 twice.

El Maserati 8CTF was another design inspired by Ernest Maserati, originally devised in 1938 with the support of the Orsi family, the Modena entrepreneurs who had taken over the business in 1937.

Characterized by its 8 cylinder engine, where the cylinders were in a cast monoblock with the cylinder head (hence the name 8CTF, corresponding to 8 cylinders "testa fissa" that is to say fixed cylinder head), the new vehicle was Maserati's response to reaffirm its competitiveness against other manufacturers Europeans.

The car that won the Indianapolis 500 in 1939 and 1940 was owned by the team. Chicago Boyle Racing Headquarters, which belonged to Michael Joseph "Mike" Boyle. Hence the reason why he enrolled in the race under the name of Boyle Special.

After the first two victories, in 1941 Shaw looked destined for a historic hat-trick, but a puncture prevented him from winning the American race for the third time in a row.

Maserati 8CTIn 1946, after a hiatus during World War II, the same 8CTF that Shaw had driven finished the Indianapolis race in third place, this time with Ted horne behind the wheel, and followed by another 8CTF, piloted by Emil andres. Horne repeated his third place in 1947 and finished fourth in 1948.

These impressive results confirmed the incredible sporting longevity of the initial design developed by Ernesto Maserati in 1938, which remained competitive for a decade.

Maserati's impressive performances at the Indianapolis Oval set the stage for the birth of an Italian myth in America. Its prestige was so great that in 2014 the HVA (Historical Vehicle Association) of the United States registered the 8CTF as the first non-US production car to obtain a permanent place in the annals of the United States Library of Congress.

Additionally, one of three cars produced, the one that led Shaw to victory in the Indianapolis 500 in 1939 and 1940, has been reconfigured with the original paint and is on display at the Indianapolis Speedway Museum.

Louis Our
Louis Unser on the Pikes Peak climb.

However, the successes in the 8CTF races were not limited to victories at the traditional American oval circuits, as this Maserati model also triumphed in another important race such as the climb Pikes Peak, in Colorado, where Louis Our was the winner in 1946 and 1947.

The Pikes Peak race took place on an ascending ramp of about 20 kilometers, mainly on unpaved roads and with 156 curves that represented a challenging test for both the driver and the car. The starting line was located at 1.440 meters above sea level, while the finish line was at an altitude of 4.300 meters.

The Maserati 8CTF thus achieved truly exceptional results in totally different disciplines. Something that showed he was designed to win no matter where.

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Automundo is the blog about news from the automotive industry, motorsport and the culture of the region. Director: Diego Durruty.

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