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Photo credit: Klemantaski Collection/The Key 2021, Mecum, Wheelsage
Lloyd “Lucky” Casner, a native of Miami, founded Scuderia Camoradi (Casner Motor Racing Division) in 1959, supported by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, which was seeking visibility outside of America. After racing as a gentleman driver in the United States for the previous three years, he decided to focus both as a driver and as the driving force behind his team, which gloriously carried the American colours, in the World Championship and at Le Mans.
Several cars of different brands were part of the Scuderia Camoradi. Here the Chevrolet Corvette that participated in Sebring and Le Mans in 1960 auctioned earlier this year for $1.1m.
Although numerous cars have raced under the Camoradi colours – Porsche Carrera and RSK, Chevrolet Corvette, Ferrari 250 TR, and OSCA – the Scuderia is most famous for investing in the Maserati Birdcage project, using both the Tipo 61 and the Tipo 63, as well as the Tipo 151. During these years, Casner allowed Maserati, which in 1957 won the Formula 1 World Championship with Juan Manuel Fangio, to showcase the technical talent of the Italian brand.
The 1000 km of Nürburgring was a winning ground for Scuderia Camoradi's Maserati Tipo 61: in 1960 with Stirling Moss and Dan Gurney and the following year with Masten Gregory and founder Lloyd Casner.
Many drivers raced for the Scuderia, including Casner himself, who achieved his most significant victory at the 1000 Km of the Nürburgring in 1961, partnered with Masten Gregory. To name just a few of the most famous: Stirling Moss, Carroll Shelby, Jo Bonnier, Dan Gurney, and Nini Vaccarella. The assault on Le Mans proved fatal to the Scuderia and its founder. The Birdcages, even when equipped with a rear V12 engine derived from Formula 1, had a certain fragility that led to numerous withdrawals and lacked the power needed to conquer the famous 24 Hours. That led to the Tipo 151, with a more traditional chassis and an engine progressively increased in displacement – 5,000cc – and power. Nicknamed “The Monster”, the car finally had the potential to win. However, it was this very monster that devoured Casner himself during a 1965 Le Mans 24-hour race test day in a tragic accident at the Mulsanne curve. Thus ended Casner’s American dream and his courageous Scuderia.
A symbol of Scuderia Camoradi, the Maserati Birdcage in the American white and blue livery, has participated in the most important international races.
CLASSIC CAR MATCHER