Maserati commemorates triumph of 8CTF at Indy 500

Without a doubt, performance, design and prominence are the reputable trademark of the Maserati brand.

With a tradition and history of successes on the roads and circuits all over the world it exhibits a standard-bearer for Italian excellence imbued in its very own DNA.

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As Bobby Unser, an American former racecar driver who has three Indianapolis 500 titles to his name, said, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”

The Indianapolis 500, also formally known as the Indianapolis 500-mile race, is an annual race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) traditionally held over Memorial Day weekend in late May.

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Some 80 years ago, two  consecutive victories were recorded on May 30, 1939 and May 30, 1940 at the Indianapolis 500. The event was billed as “The greatest spectacle in Racing,” with an experienced and inspiring driver Warren Wilbur Shaw, helped to develop the brand's notoriety all over the world. 

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Maserati 8CTF

The Maserati 8CTF came to Indianapolis after taking part in a number of races in 1938, which revealed its great potential: Count Carlo Felice Trossi had led the Tripoli GP for several laps, and had taken pole position in the Coppa Ciano. Luigi “Gigi” Villoresi had recorded the fastest lap in the Coppa Acerbo.

An inspired design by Ernesto Maserati, the the 8CTF originated in 1938 with the support of the Orsi family and the Modena entrepreneurs who had taken over the business in 1937.

The said engine is characterized by its 8-cylinder engine with cylinders cast in a monoblock with the head—hence the name "8CTF", or 8 cylinders "testa fissa" or fixed head).

It features the greatest engineering and innovation at that time from Maserati, paired with outstanding drivers that aided the brand in accomplishing various awards in the totality of its run.

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Chicago Boyle Racing team is responsible for the car that won the Indy 500 in 1939 and 1940 a team owned by Michael Joseph Boyle. It was entered in the race named”Boyle Special”.

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In 1941, Shaw seemed destined for pulling a historic hat-trick; an unfortunate puncture prevented him from being triumphant at the American race for the third consecutive time. In 1946, after a break due to the Second World War, the same 8CTF which Shaw had driven finished the Indianapolis race in third place, this time with Ted Horn at the wheel. It was followed home by another 8CTF, driven by Emil Andres. Horn repeated his third place in 1947, and went on to finish fourth in 1948.

These very impressive results confirm the amazing sporting longevity of the initial design developed by Ernesto Maserati in 1938, which remained competitive at the highest levels for a decade.

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Spectacular performances brought by Maserati in the Indianapolis oval laid the foundations for the beginning of an Italian myth in the USA. Its stature was so great that in 2014 the United States HVA (Historical Vehicle Association) registered the 8CTF as the first non-American production car to be awarded a permanent place in the archives of the Library of the US Congress.

Recorded under the Secretary of the Interior’s "Standards for Heritage Documentation", the documentation has been placed in the NHVR (National Historic Vehicle Register) and HAER (Historic American Engineering Record). This clearly shows the expertise and the solidarity behind the racing team involved.

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One of the three cars built, the one driven to victory by Wilbur Shaw in the 1939 and 1940 Indianapolis 500 races, has been reconfigured with the original paintwork and is displayed in the Indianapolis Speedway Museum.

Photos from Maserati

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