TeamsKen Kavanagh: 1958 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Throughout Formula One's history there would be a number of drivers that would get their start on two wheels and then move on to four. One of those early cross-over racers would be Ken Kavanagh.
Thomas Kenrick Kavanagh was something of a legend in his native Australia. Born in December of 1923, Kavanagh would come to be a motorcycle racer racing 350cc and 500cc bikes. By the early 1950s, 'Ken', as he would usually referred to, would already be one of Australia's best and would be looking to test his skills on a more international stage.
Taking part in Grand Prix motorcycle racing, Kavanagh would quickly come to impress scoring a 3rd place in the Netherlands in 1951 followed by a couple of 2nd places in the final couple of rounds of the season. However, his best was yet to come.
Taking to his 350cc Norton, Kavanagh would be highly competitive in the Ulster Grand Prix in 1952 and would eventually come away with the victory. It would be the first time in which an Australian won a motorcycle grand prix. He would end up repeating his victory in Ulster the following year, this time while riding a 500cc Norton. Over the next three years, the Australian would score at least one victory over the course of a season and would end up 3rd in the 500cc standings in 1954.
After scoring victory in the Isle of Man 350cc race riding a Moto Guzzi, Ken's focus would change slightly. He had achieved a good deal of success in motorcycle racing. He would determine it was time to start racing with four wheels.
Throughout the 1957 season, Kavanagh would compete in lower formulas and would not make an appearance in either Formula 2 or sportscars, let along Formula One. However, all of that would be about to change heading into the 1958 season.
Maserati would withdraw from Formula One as a factory effort at the end of the 1957 season. This meant there would be a number of 250Fs available for purchase for a rather good price. This made it possible then for drivers, like Kavanagh, to take part in their first Formula One races.
Kavanagh would end up purchasing chassis 2527. It had only come into being during the '57 season and was made of the lighter T2 chassis that had smaller gauge tubing. At the time, Ken was living in Italy and would go to purchase the car from the Maserati factory. It had been used extensively throughout the '57 season and had been driven by Jean Behra and Harry Schell. However, the car would also be piloted by Juan Manuel Fangio and even Stirling Moss. And, considering all of the great drivers to have piloted it, the car appeared to be a good buy for Kavanagh.
But given the fact he had no Formula One experience whatsoever, Kavanagh would be under no illusions about his prospects heading into 1958. This would never be more evident that at the very first race of the season.
The first round of the Formula One World Championship would be the first grand prix event of 1958. Set for the 19th of January, the first round would be the Argentine Grand Prix held at the Autodromo Municipal Ciudad de Buenos Aires just to the south of the city.
Seeing that the first round would be in Argentina and that Maserati was no longer a fixture in the Formula One paddock, there would be a handful of drivers without a drive, including none other than Juan Manuel Fangio. Jean Behra and Harry Schell would all take on driving roles with the BRM squad. However, Owen Racing's outfit would not incur the cost of the trip, and therefore, would not show. This provided Kavanagh with an opportunity. Jean Behra had driven Ken's Maserati the year before. He was acquainted with the car, and without a drive. Therefore, the Australian would hire the services of the Frenchman for the Argentine Grand Prix. So Kavanagh would come to enter his first Formula One race as a car owner and not a driver.
In Behra, Kavanagh had someone of a kindred-spirit. Behra had started out racing Moto-Guzzi motorcycles before he switched to sportscars and grand prix cars. A formidable competitor who had won a number of non-championship events, Ken had found in Jean a great driver to get his four-wheel motor racing off to a good start.
Throughout his career, Behra had never managed to achieve victory. He would, on two occasions, finish in 2nd. Both of those results would come at one track—Argentina. Given his good success on the 2.42 mile circuit, Kavanagh had reason to expect good things for his first foray into Formula One.
New regulations and the lack of factory support put all Maserati owners a bit on the back-foot. However, Fangio would make it appear as if nothing had changed as he would take the pole come the end of practice. His lap time of 1:42.0 would be six-tenths of a second quicker than Mike Hawthorn's effort. Peter Collins would capture the third spot on the front row. Behra would also look as though he had picked up right where he had left off in '57. Posting a lap time just seven-tenths of a second slower than Fangio, Kavanagh's man would manage to capture the fourth, and final, spot on the front row of the grid.
The race would be 80 laps in length and would feature just ten cars taking to the grid. Despite the small grid, the weather would be pleasant for a change and this would be welcome by not just the drivers. The partial crowd would be excited to watch their countryman start a new year with yet another victory. However, at the drop of the flag it would be Kavanagh's Maserati that would be out front in the lead. Behra would be followed closely by Hawthorn and Fangio, but, Ken's car would manage to complete the first circuit in the lead. In his very first effort in Formula One his car was leading, but it wouldn't last for very long.
Hawthorn would take over the lead from Behra and the Frenchman would immediately come under threat from Fangio. Fangio wouldn't need too long either before he was able to get around Behra for position. Still, Behra would be amongst the top three and looking good for Kavanagh.
Hawthorn would lead the first handful of laps but would soon lose out to Fangio. The Argentinean, in front of his home crowd, would demonstrate that the 250F wasn't through, at least not just yet. Hawthorn would slip back and would come under heavy attack from Behra. These two would battle it out for more than a half a dozen laps, but Behra would never seem able to get the upper-hand. Stirling Moss, on the other hand, would. Driving the 1.9-liter Cooper, Moss seemed to everyone else to be a bit out of his league against the 2.5-liter machines. However, as the race neared the halfway point he would be up to 2nd place pushing Hawthorn and Behra down into a battle for 3rd.
Unfortunately, by this stage of the race the Maseratis began to overheat slightly. Fangio had pitted by this point in time and was down in 4th place and Hawthorn was in the pits having his Ferrari looked over. It was a prime opportunity for the Frenchman to gather it all in and make it through the last half of the race.
Sadly, while his Maserati was just beginning to show signs of overheating, Behra would lose his concentration and would end up spinning. A good deal of time would be lost as a result and Jean would find himself pointed in the right direction again, but all the way down in 6th place.
Everyone would make stops for new tires, except for one. Stirling Moss had a strategy. Driving the nimble and balanced Cooper, the Brit would decide to take a gamble. Since the temperatures were not as hot as they had been in years past, he would attempt to race the entire 80 laps without pitting for tires. This gave him the lead with more than half the race left to run, but was that too much time.
Luigi Musso would be in 2nd place and confident the race would come to him. He would sit still and would not press the Cooper that was up the road a fair bit. Meanwhile, overheating issues were becoming more and more of a concern for Behra's Maserati. He was stuck just outside the points and unable to really mount a challenge. It would be very difficult for the Frenchman given the fact he had been in the lead and up amongst the front-runners for a good portion of the race.
Heading into the last ten laps of the race it would finally dawn on Musso that Moss was not going to stop. The Ferrari driver needed to step on it. Time was running out and the distance between them was great, perhaps too great. Issues with Carlos Menditeguy brought 5th place within reach of the Behra, and so, he would push as hard as he dared in order to bring home Kavanagh's first points in Formula One.
Musso's response would come too late. He had been tricked. The race would not come to him. Though the cords in the tires would be showing, Moss would cross the line to take the victory. Musso had made it close, but he would still cross the line a little under three seconds behind. Mike Hawthorn's race would turn from exciting to dull as he finished a rather quiet 3rd another ten seconds adrift of Musso.
Behra's race would be even worse than Hawthorn's. The Frenchman had led the first lap of the race and had been right around 2nd place for a good majority of the event. However, as he crossed the line, all of that early success would be forgotten as the stats would simply read he finished a little more than two laps behind in 5th place. Though he was second amongst the Maseratis, it was clear the Italian machine was no longer a winning car. Still, Kavanagh would have some reason to smile as his driver would bring his Maserati home in 5th place earning the Australian, in his first-ever Formula One event, two championship points. All-in-all, it would be a good day for the small effort against the Ferraris and other privateers.
There would be little reason to leave Argentina for Europe. There would be a non-championship Formula Libre at the Buenos Aires circuit in early February. This would provide the perfect opportunity for the motorcyclist to get his feet wet driving a machine with four wheels.
The Gran Premio Ciudad de Buenos Aires was not some trifling event in which the grid would be filled with mostly local racers. Instead, the race would be two heats lasting 30 laps each around the 2.92 mile number four circuit. Additionally, most of the same people Behra had to struggle against in the first round of the World Championship would take part in this event, Behra included. It would be the first time in which Kavanagh would get the opportunity to measure himself against the other great drivers of grand prix racing.
Sadly, Ken would never really get the chance to test himself. A water pump failure during the first heat meant he would not be able to take part in the second. His first foray in Formula One, as a driver, would be over without the Australian even having the opportunity to work up a sweat.
After the failed attempt in the Formula Libre race, Kavanagh would pack everything up and would make the voyage across the Atlantic to Europe. Many of the English cars and drivers would, obviously, head to England looking forward to taking part in the well known Easter Monday races at Goodwood on the 7th of April. The Italian teams, and those making use of Italian machinery, would head to the island of Sicily to take part in the 8th Gran Premio di Siracusa held on the 13th of April.
Living in Italy at the time, Kavanagh would head to Sicily as well. He would attempt to finally make it through his first Formula One event, and the one he would choose would be anything but easy.
The circuit Kavanagh would compete on would also not be a very easy intro into Formula One as well. Measuring 3.48 miles, the circuit, which utilized public roads just to the west of the ancient city's center, would appear straight forward. It was fast with only a couple of technical sections. However, the concrete walls lining a good portion of the circuit provided very little room for error. Kavanagh would have two more tires to help him keep course, but it still wasn't going to be easy.
Sure enough, Kavanagh would find the Syracuse circuit rather tricky and he would be well off the pace in practice. Luigi Musso would end up on pole in the lone Ferrari. His time would be sub-two minutes. No other car would manage that feet as Giorgio Scarlatti would grab 2nd place and Jo Bonnier completed the front row in 3rd. Kavanagh's best effort would be 2:13.7 and would be more than 15 seconds slower around the rather fast circuit. As a result, Ken would find himself starting from the fourth row of the grid in the 9th position. Starting 9th wouldn't sound all that bad but there would be just 12 starters total and the fact there was 15 seconds of time between himself and Musso did not exactly signal he was going to be fighting for a place in the top three.
A good deal of attention would be paid to the drivers lining up on the grid. Though it was Kavanagh's first Formula One effort he would not garner much of the attention as nearly all eyes would be trained on Musso and a certain Maria Teresa de Filippis. And, as the 60 lap race got underway, there was quickly very little reason to look at Musso.
Musso would peel away into the lead straightaway and would begin to stretch out an advantage that, at times, would easily reach some 5 seconds a lap. Musso was pulling away and he wasn't even trying hard. For the fleet of Maseratis in the field, they would have to try real hard just to remain on the lead lap.
Kavanagh would have no answer for Musso or de Filippis. Taking great care in his first race, Ken would not be terribly quick choosing to focus on perfection and having a mistake-free run over pushing as hard he possible could have. The result is that he would not be in contention for just about anything right from the start onwards. However, attrition would bring him good blessings.
Some five Maseratis and the sole OSCA in the field would all retire before the end of the race. This enabled Kavanagh to be amongst the top six heading into the final few laps of the race. He was close to finishing his first race.
Musso could have put his Ferrari in first gear and just trundled around the circuit for the final time, and still he would have come away victorious. No car, other than the Ferrari driven by Musso, had posted a lap time in practice under two minutes. Musso's fastest lap would beat the benchmark time by nine-tenths. Additionally, his average speed over the course of the event would be right around 100mph. The speed and reliability would be a combination in which no other competitor had an answer and even looked close to solving any time soon. It would be a dominant performance by the Italian.
Crossing the line in just under two hours and three minutes, Musso would nearly have two laps in hand over Jo Bonnier finishing in 2nd place. Francesco Godia-Sales would finish in 3rd but he would be more than two laps behind. Trailing behind de Filippis by a couple of laps, Kavanagh would finish his first Formula One race, but it wouldn't be very spectacular. Finishing in the race in 6th place, Kavanagh would be the last car still running out on the circuit, but even that would be a little optimistic given that he crossed the line more than six laps behind Musso.
So while he would not set the world on fire with his first performance behind the wheel of a Maserati grand prix car, Kavanagh would still finish. What's more, there were still a couple more non-championship events on the calendar before the second round of the Formula One World Championship. Therefore, the Australian would have some time to get more experience and to prepare himself before he attempted an assault on a championship Formula One race. As a result, Ken would immediately leave Sicily and would travel through Europe and across the Channel to England. On the 19th of April he would be at Aintree busily getting ready to take part in the XIII BARC ‘200'.
The BARC race had the potential of being somewhat embarrassing. Not only was it a Formula One race, but Formula 2 cars would run concurrently with the Formula One machines. Therefore, finishing well behind some of the Formula 2 cars would not exactly help the confidence.
Aintree would be a good circuit for Kavanagh to gain some experience. Measuring 3.0 miles in length, the circuit would make use of tarmac in and around the famed Grand National course. It was a technical track with only a couple of straights of considerable length. The rest of the circuit had corners with varying radiuses and made for a great training ground.
The lack of experience would show for Kavanagh who would find himself well down on the grid. His best lap around the circuit would be 2:19.8. The fastest would be the man that had driven his car in Argentina—Behra. Behra's best would be 1:59.8. While Behra would find himself on pole along with Roy Salvadori and Stirling Moss on the front row, Kavanagh would be well down in the field by virtue of being 20 seconds slower. He would start from the ninth row of the grid in the 23rd spot overall.
It was cold and damp, but this would seem to be ideal conditions for Moss who would streak into the lead and would stay right there throughout the 67 lap race. Behra, Salvadori and Brabham would all give chase until Behra fell out with brake failure and Salvadori's attack began to wane.
Kavanagh's start would be unremarkable, but he would have his eyes focused on the long-game, trying to finish the race and gain more valuable experience. The Australian would garner more and more experience with each and every lap. Unfortunately, the lesson would come to an end after just 20 laps.
Moss would lead every single lap of the race but would come under very heavy pressure in the last couple of laps. The pressure had been somewhat self-induced. Clutch problems made it very doubtful he would even make it to the end of the race in the first place. However, Moss' lead was such that he could begin to nurse the car and try and coax it to finish. Brabham, however, would push his Cooper hard. He would set the fastest lap of the race in his pursuit of Moss. He would finally catch the Rob Walker Cooper and seemed a lock to wrench the victory out of Moss' hands on the last lap.
Heading into the last corner, Moss knew he needed to do something to keep the victory within his grasp. He was within reach of the line. He had nursed the car this far. It was well and truly now or never. Putting the power down early, the tail-end of the Cooper would step out and would be caught beautifully by Moss. Unsure whether the clutch would explode then and there, Stirling would deem the move necessary to get the jump on Brabham coming out of the corner.
The move would work and Moss would power his way across the line to victory just two-tenths of a second ahead. Tony Brooks would complete the top three finishing a little more than a minute further behind in a Formula 2 Cooper.
Kavanagh had gained some more valuable experience, but to depart the race after just 20 laps would still be a very limited education. He really needed more time in order to get the best out of the aged Maserati. But to do that he too needed to get the best out of himself, and that required him being totally comfortable behind the wheel. He wasn't yet. But thankfully, there would be yet another non-championship event on the calendar that could help him to get there.
Kavanagh would not need to leave England in order to take part in his next Formula One event. He would just need to wait for early May, and then he could make the pilgrimage to Silverstone. It would be at Silverstone, on the 3rd of May, that the 10th edition of the BRDC International Trophy race would be held. This would be a fantastic opportunity for the Australian motorcyclist. Since the British round of the World Championship would take place at Silverstone in '58, the International Trophy race would include many of the same drivers, teams and cars he would be attempting to go up against in his first World Championship race.
It had been in 1949 that the first International Trophy race would be held at Silverstone. What would be interesting about that race back in 1949 is that it would be the first time in which the 2.92 mile perimeter road would be used as the course. The now iconic Silverstone shape would come into being with that race. The British Grand Prix had been held at the circuit the year before, but it had made use of the runways and the perimeter taxiways of the old RAF bomber training base.
Having come into existence in 1943 as a bomber training base for the Royal Air Force, RAF Silverstone would be relatively flat and certainly wide-open. The winds could often be impressive, but it would be the area's own weather pattern that garnered much of the attention. Usually overcast or rainy, weather around Silverstone seemed to play to its own beat, even when it came to the rest of the nation. However, this time, the weather would be absolutely beautiful.
Again, the field would be a mixture of Formula One and Formula 2 cars. In practice, the lap times would be incredible close amongst the first couple of rows. Just two seconds would be the separation. Surprisingly, it would be Roy Salvadori on pole. He would be joined on the front row by Jack Brabham, Moss and Peter Collins.
Though a fast circuit, Silverstone is still a rather technical track and that would cause Kavanagh to find the going rather tough in practice. His best effort would be under 12 seconds slower than Salvadori and would lead to Ken finding himself at the back of the grid once again. In the field of some 33 cars, Kavanagh would find himself lining up 26th and on the inside of the eighth row.
A large crowd would assemble to watch the race. The distance would be 146 miles, or 50 laps. The cars and drivers would begin to take their places on the grid. Kavanagh would be focused on the job at hand, but undoubtedly prayed and begged his effort would result in a race finish.
At the drop of the flag, the revs in Moss' Cooper would also drop and he would end up at the end of the field by the time he got going. This meant Kavanagh was ahead of Moss, but it was just the first lap of the race and it was highly unlikely Stirling would stay there, unless he had some sort of problem.
The man at the front would be Collins. He would be chased by Behra who would have his BRM teammate, Ron Flockhart, running close behind. At the completion of the first lap it was Collins in the lead over Behra. Kavanagh would be well back in the field in his Maserati and would find Moss charging hard coming back from his poor start.
The pace of Collins and Behra would be impressive and the two would begin to pull away from the rest of the field. Kavanagh, meanwhile, would find himself running right with some other Maseratis and Formula 2 cars. His pace was a little better around the faster circuit. He just needed to keep it together, maintain consistency and take advantage of his moments when they are presented to him.
Collins could not hold back Behra and the Frenchman would go into the lead. Behind these two a great battle had been going on between Jack Brabham, Roy Salvadori, Masten Gregory and Graham Hill. Brabham had made his way by Flockhart and was beginning to reel in Collins in his Ferrari. Behra, meanwhile, would extend his lead over the Ferrari driver bit by bit. Moss was on the charge from the back of the pack. He had easily made his way by Kavanagh and the others and was making his way up into the top ten. He would then be inside the top ten and charging toward the top five. There was still the potential for Moss to come all the way back from being last to winning the race.
It appeared as though Moss would have to beat Behra if he had any thoughts of winning the race. The BRM driver was fast and consistent. He was looking on form and untouchable. He was going on about his business with a care in the world. However, as he approached a car to lap them, a stone would be thrown up and would striking Behra in the face. His goggles would save him as he would suffer a deep cut over one eye and would have shattered goggles. This would force Behra into the pits to be checked over and to get a new pair of goggles. It would be a heart-breaking episode as the leader would lose his lead handing the lead of the race from a British car over to an Italian one.
Kavanagh would remain out of trouble and would have no such issues with stones. He would be in the running still, but he would not be all that competitive. There would be a number of Formula 2 cars ahead of him in the order, but at least he was still following along not far behind a couple of other Maseratis. It would be hard to make an outdated car truly competitive, but he would be doing what he could.
Behra and Collins had set identical fastest lap times. So when Behra lost out as a result of the run-in with the stone Collins would be right there to pick up the lead and would promptly pull away. Brabham would fade and Moss would end up retiring with gearbox failure. Yet, despite the loss of some of the strongest in the field, other drivers, like Roy Salvadori and Masten Gregory, would do their best to keep things close. They would fight hard, but Collins would have the measure of them and would continue unmolested. The best fight in the field would actually come between a Formula One and a Formula 2 car. Heading into the final few laps of the race, there would be nothing between Bruce Halford's Maserati and Dennis Taylor's Lotus 12. Kavanagh would be on the same lap as Wolfgang Seidel in another Maserati. This seemed like a great opportunity for Ken to gain some valuable experience fighting against another car that was equal to what he had. This fight would last for a little while but Seidel would end up getting the better of Kavanagh and would pull away into the distance. Ken was still in the running for a classified result, but he was certainly well back.
Others were well back of Collins as he rounded Woodcote for the final time and powered his way across the line to take the victory. Averaging just under 102mph, Collins would have 23 seconds in hand over Salvadori finishing in 2nd place. Masten Gregory would be impressive in an older 250F. He would demonstrate there was still some potential in the car by finishing in 3rd place about 36 seconds behind Collins.
Kavanagh, it could be said, merely gained some valuable track time. Finishing all the way down in 18th place overall, Ken would not be in the hunt for anything really, but he would finish the race and would be classified in the results having crossed the line a little more than five laps behind Collins. Yet, despite the rather lackluster performance, it was important for the man to become comfortable in the car. It was the only way he was going to become quicker. And, as the next round of the Formula One World Championship loomed on the horizon the Australian needed to become as comfortable as possible, as quickly as possible.
If there was one championship Formula One race in which someone was to try to qualify it would just have to come at one of the truly classic, archetypical Formula One venues. And among those archetypical venues, there is one that still stands above all the rest. Considered the jewel in Formula One's crown, the Monaco Grand Prix is truly one of those special events in motor racing, and, in 1958, it was far from easy to make it into.
Nestled amongst the mountains of southern France and abutted to the Mediterranean, Monaco was a haven for the wealthy and affluent and about the one place in the world where royalty and oil and grease co-mingled as though they were one. Yet, because of this one-ness, the race itself would take on some rather elite qualities. One of the major qualities the event would have would be a rather small starting field. Just a total of 16 cars would be able to start this jewel of a race, and that meant Kavanagh, with his very limited experience on four wheels, had shown up to perhaps the toughest race in which he had ever tried to enter.
All of the factory efforts would be there, minus one. Even without Maserati, there would be the Vanwalls from Vandervell's team, the BRMs from Owen Racing, the Coopers from the factory and privateer Cooper efforts and then, of course, there would be Ferrari. In total, there would be 29 cars all vying for 16 spots on the grid. If ever there was a time in which Kavanagh needed to become comfortable and one with his Maserati it would be right then, and that was just to try and make it into the race.
Kavanagh wouldn't come alone to Monaco. Luigi Taramazzo was another racer that hadn't, as of yet, made an appearance in a Formula One race. These two would be entered as possible pilots for 2527. The hope was that at least one of them would be able to qualify for the race.
The man that would end up setting the pace and taking the pole would be Tony Brooks in the Vanwall. He had been fastest in the first practice session and came through in the last to ensure he started from on pole. Brooks' best effort would be a 1:39.8 and would be a full second quicker than Jean Behra's time in the 2nd place BRM. However, from 1st place down to Jo Bonnier, the man on the bubble in 16th spot, there would be just about five seconds difference. This meant the gap from first to last was really rather small and that didn't bode well for either Kavanagh or Taramazzo.
Though considered a good sportscar driver, Taramazzo would never get close enough to Bonnier's time. This meant it was up to Kavanagh to make up the difference if he was going to start his first Formula One race. There was just one problem. In Ken's previous Formula One outings, in the non-championship events, he had never qualified within 5 seconds of the pole-sitter and that was at tracks there were much faster and much less technical. This was not good news for the Australian.
Among those still on the outside looking in, Kavanagh would be amongst the fastest. However, his best time would be a 1:49.0. This would still be four seconds slower than Bonnier's effort. It was not good enough. Kavanagh would come up short in his bid to enter his first Formula One World Championship race. Sadly, being behind the wheel of a Maserati, it didn't look a whole lot better going forward.
The greatest hope for Kavanagh, if he wasn't able to change his choice of car, was to find a less technical circuit that played to the strengths of the Maserati and that didn't have such a limited size to the field. There was an option coming along in June that had the potential of giving Kavanagh the opportunity he needed. It was the Belgian Grand Prix held on the 15th of June.
There was the Dutch Grand Prix just a about a week after the Monaco Grand Prix. Its field had been rather small, but all of the Maseratis struggled in the actual race. However, coming to the ultra-fast, fastest circuit of them all, 8.77 mile circuit in the heart of the Ardennes seemed to suggest events would go any better around Spa compared to anywhere else. Nonetheless, Kavanagh would arrive with his Maserati looking forward to an opportunity just to take part in a Formula One World Championship event.
Around the fast 8.77 mile circuit, Mike Hawthorn would be the quickest posting a lap of 3:57.1. Luigi Musso would end up just four-tenths of a second slower and Stirling Moss would complete the front row having been only a tenth slower than Musso. While the front row of the grid would be separated by just a half a second and completing laps of the circuit in under four minutes, engine issues would be hindering Kavanagh. The best the Australian would manage in practice would be a lap of 4:45.3. Over forty-five seconds slower than the pole-sitter was not good at all. But Kavanagh would have larger issues. He could take part in his first World Championship event, but the inline-six cylinder engine suggested…no demanded…it wasn't going to happen. Once again, Ken would not be able to take part in a Formula One World Championship race.
After the failed attempt to take part in the Belgian Grand Prix, Kavanagh decided to call the season over and would look for another opportunity. It was obvious this man that had achieved so much success on two wheels was finding it hard to find the balance on four. Attempting to move on from the difficult '58 season, Kavanagh would appear in 1959 with the same 250F. The car was well past its prime and it was more than obvious Ken needed to become more comfortable with the car. Therefore, the Australian would plan to enter the car in a number of events in the early part of the '59 season in order to gain more experience. One of those events in which he would enter would be the Glover Trophy race held at Goodwood in the early spring.
The weather, the day of the race, would be terrible and, while coming through the chicane heading toward the start/finish line, Kavanagh would spin his Maserati around and would end up plowing into the pitlane. Ken would emerge from the car unhurt but a good number of others would be injured as a result. Right then and there, in the wet and the cold, Kavanagh would determine his Formula One racing career to be over. Throughout 1959 and 1960 the Australian would only take part in motorcycle races.
The record books will show that, as a team owner, Kavanagh would be one of the very few to come through to score points in his very first race. However, as a racer, Kavanagh would fail to take part in a single race. It was time to abandon the dream.
Kavanagh would race only through 1960 before retiring from all forms of motor racing. Afterward determining to slow down, Ken would go on and live in Bergamo, Italy owning a dry-cleaning business.