LONDON – January 16, 2009: Traffic in London’s Pall Mall came to a halt today (Thursday January 15th) when the “world’s greatest racing car” driven by rock legend Nick Mason from Pink Floyd called into the Royal Automobile Club.
The club welcomed the car after thousands of readers from Octane, one of Britain’s top motoring magazines, had voted for the car which had been nominated by Sir Stirling Moss.
Nick Mason said: “The accolade is well deserved. To many the 250F is the archetypal Grand Prix car and, apart from being one of the most beautiful, it is one of the most progressive and forgiving of racing cars to drive. Who can forget what must be the most iconic of motor racing images – Fangio in a full power-slide at the French Grand Prix in 1957, with battle scars evident on the nose? (The car that is, not the driver…).”
He added: “It was a great idea from Octane to get readers to vote for their favourite racing car and I am delighted that the 250F beat its rivals.”
The magazine received thousands of votes for the car from readers around the world who had seen a series of articles putting a total of nine famous cars up for the accolade including an Auto Union Type C, Lotus 49, Porsche 917, Cobra, Mercedes-Benz W196 and Toyota TS010 Group C, but it was the 1950s F1 car that won.
The 250F competed between 1954 and 1958, during which time it won 55 races. It first raced in the 1954 Argentine Grand Prix in the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio, who won the first of his two victories before he left for Mercedes Benz. Sir Stirling Moss raced his privately owned 250F for the full 1954 season. In 1956 he won the Italian Grand Prix and the Monaco Grand Prix in his private car.
In 1957, Fangio drove to four more championship victories, including his legendary win at the Nürburgring where he overcame a 50-second deficit in just 20 laps, passing the race leader on the final lap to take the win.
The cars were nominated by famous motor racing drivers and personalities, including Brian Redman, Damon Hill, Derek Bell, Carroll Shelby, Andy Wallace and Bobby Rahal. The Maserati 250F was put forward by Sir Stirling Moss, who said: “I have great affection for the 250F because it was the car that gave me my first proper break in Formula One.”
Now 79, Sir Stirling Moss is one of the best-known racers of all- time. He won 194 of the 497 races he entered, including 16 Formula One Grand Prixs.
Ben Cussons, Motoring Committee Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club, said: “We are delighted to have the winning car featured outside the Club. The Maserati 250F combines the very best in both automotive design and racing car engineering of the era. Its style and appeal are timeless.”
Andrea Antonnicola, the Managing Director of Maserati GB Ltd, said: “The 250F is possibly the most iconic car in the history of Maserati, a masterpiece of engineering which won the company the ultimate motorsport accolade, the Formula One Championship. Times have changed and Maserati's core business now lies in the luxury car market, but the spirit of that era, the passion and the constant strive for excellence are part of our DNA.”
The editor of Octane, Robert Coucher, commented: “There has been a huge debate over the years as to which car could be described as the Greatest Racing Car but no-one has ever put it to the test. We decided that we would ask over 33,000 magazine readers and more than 100,000 users of the Octane website to vote.
“We also wanted the views of some of the most famous drivers in the world who have actually experienced these famous cars over the years.”
He added: “From the 1950s heyday of Grand Prix racing, the precise, pretty 250F was the weapon of choice for Moss, Fangio, Bira, Salvadori and Hawthorn.”