TeamsOnofre Marimon: 1954 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Onofre Marimon seemed to have all of the necessary elements to be truly successful in Formula One. Mentored by Juan Manuel Fangio and close to all of the other Argentineans in the paddock, this easy-going Latin was a rising star heading into 1954. As a result of obvious talents and successes on the track, Marimon would have the means to field his own team. But like Marimon himself, his team's presence in Formula One would be short-lived.
The coming of the 1954 season presented opportunities and pitfalls. The return of Formula One and its regulations allowing a maximum engine displacement of 2.5-liters meant a new line of grand prix cars would be rolling out of factories like Ferrari, Maserati and, soon, Mercedes-Benz. Given that the 2.5-liter displacement was the maximum there would also be a whole series of underpowered Formula 2 cars that would be still eligible to race, and in the right conditions, could still be competitive.
Maserati, particular, would have a lot of excess cars lying around at the end of the 1953 season. The A6GCM and A6SSG had brought Maserati to the same level as Ferrari by the end of the 1953 and, with the new 2.5-liter engine, promised to be competitive even with the new 250F coming online. Still, there would be some 2.0-liter A6GCM that would be made available to customers that would allow for privateers to have a means to take part in grand prix races. This would be an opportunity for Marimon to enter into the world of being a team owner.
Heading into the 1954 season, Marimon would come to have at his disposal a Maserati A6GCM, chassis 2033, that had been originally purchased by Chico Landi and his Escuderia Bandeirantes team in 1952. Francisco 'Chico' Landi would first take part in a World Championship grand prix back during the 1951 Italian Grand Prix driving a Ferrari 375. In 1953, Landi would take part in two grand prix. One of those would be while driving for his own team at the Swiss Grand Prix. The only would be while driving for Scuderia Milano in the Italian Grand Prix.
Heading into the 1954 season, Landi would not take part in any rounds of the Formula One World Championship and would not take part in any races on the European continent. This left one of the Maserati A6GCMs open for use and Onofre Marimon would be the one that would approach Landi about the use of the car.
Onofre's own racing career was just beginning to really take off. Therefore, concern about being a team owner and manager would be a distant second in his mind. However, he would show some interest in providing opportunities for his fellow countrymen to take part in certain races. And with the Maserati being with Landi in Brazil, then the first round of the 1954 Formula One World Championship would be the perfect opportunity for another of Marimon's countrymen to have a chance behind the wheel of a race car, especially when it took place on home soil.
The first round of the 1954 Formula One World Championship would come very early on in the year. In fact, the 17th of January would provide very little time for teams to get the new 2.5-liter cars readied and shipped to South America. Therefore, the Argentine Grand Prix would be filled with a mixture of Formula One and Formula 2 entrants, including Onofre Marimon's Maserati A6GCM.
Just as Marimon already possessed all of the necessary talents to be a true star in Formula One, he would have all of the necessary elements already in place in Argentina to field a car of his own in his home grand prix. The only element he needed to rectify would be the driver. Marimon would have a factory ride with Maserati right alongside his mentor and fellow countryman Juan Manuel Fangio. Since he already had a ride with the factory Maserati team, Carlos Menditeguy would earn the drive in the 2.0-liter A6GCM.
The addition of Menditeguy in the entry list meant there would be no less than six Argentineans entered in what was the 8th Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina, the second such race as part of the World Championship.
The second edition, everyone hoped, would fair much better than the initial one had. Eager to capitalize on the event for his own political purposes, President Peron would be eager to have the World Championship come to Argentina. The best teams, cars and drivers in the world would then be present in January of 1953 for the first ever edition of the Argentine Grand Prix as part of the World Championship. The crowds would be incredible, and right up against the fences by the side of the circuit. Unfortunately, this made for a very dangerous situation. And when a young boy wandered onto the track in an effort to get a better view, what view he would see would be Giuseppe Farina bearing down on him almost ready to hit him. Instead, Farina would swerve around the boy. However, the maneuver would have dire consequences as Farina would then plow into the crowd killing a number of people. One year later, Farina would be back, as would the crowds.
Very much the shoestring effort, Marimon's entry for Menditeguy would consist of just the car and some extra equipment and that would be about it. Still, it was an opportunity for Carlos to take part in what would have been his second World Championship race. However, there would be problems for Menditeguy.
During practice, the advantage of the new Formula One regulations would be more than obvious. But Menditeguy would not be all that concerned with the new regulations. He had an opportunity to take part in a World Championship race. On top of this, there would be a number of other Formula 2 cars in the field. Therefore, he would have a good chance at a strong result. If he could just make it to the start.
This would prove a little too difficult. During practice, Menditeguy would run into trouble and would have the 2.0-liter engine expire on him. Marimon had supplied the car and not much else. Marimon's resources were rather thin. Therefore, when the A6GCM suffered its engine failure, Carlos would be left with very little hope of taking part in his second World Championship race. Carlos would be stranded without hope. And with that, Marimon's first entry as a team owner would come to nothing.
Certainly, the Argentinean had plans for the future. However, that would all come to naught on the 31st of July when Marimon crashed his Maserati while practicing for the German Grand Prix. Approaching the tricky Adenau Bridge section of the infamous Nurburgring, the rear wheels of the Maserati would lock up and would cause Marimon to lose control and tumbled off the circuit. Marimon would be killed instantly because of the injuries suffered in the crash. His loss would be deeply felt amongst all of the Argentinean drivers. His loss also meant the premature end of his own racing team. Instead, Onofre Marimon, the racing team, would live on in Formula One history as one of the shortest-lived racing teams in the history of the series.