Alejandro de Tomaso – 1928-2003

The founder of the DeTomaso marque, and sometime grand prix team owner and driver, Alejandro de Tomaso has passed away at the age of 75

Alejandro de Tomaso – 1928-2003

Born in Buenos Aires in 1928, de Tomaso honed his skills in sportscars in his native Argentina. He was employed as a test driver for OSCA, a company founded by the Maserati brothers.

He went on to start two grands prix: the 1957 Argentine event, where he finished ninth in a Ferrari, and the 1959 United States race at Sebring, where he retired with brake problems in a Cooper. He also raced at Le Mans, winning the Index of Performance in 1958 in a 750cc OSCA.

In October 1959, and with backing from wealthy American wife Isabelle, he formed DeTomaso Automobili, building a raft of sports-racers and open-wheelers, none of which met with great success. His reputedly advanced Champ Car failing to turn a wheel in competition, while his F1 race engine attracted the attention of Colin Chapman but not enough for him to stump up the development fund.

His firm put its name to two Formula 1 designs - the first appeared sporadically in the early '60s and, more famously but with little more success, his second effort was in 1970, when the cars were run by Frank Williams. Sadly, British driver Piers Courage was killed in one of the cars in a fiery crash at Zandvoort.

De Tomaso will be buried on Friday.

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