Saturday, 15 January 2011

Sister doing it for her self - OSCA Tipo S-187

Today we return to Lime Rock in 1959 courtesy of Ed Arnaudin for a look at this OSCA Tipo S-187 belonging to Briggs Cunningham.

Officine Specializzate Costruzioni Automobili - Fratelli Maserati SpA was set up by the three racing mad Maserati brothers Ernesto, Ettore and Bindo after their involvement with the company bearing their own name had concluded with it's sale to Adolfo Orsi in 1937 and the expiry of their subsequent 10 year consulting contracts in 1947.

The brothers focused on building extremely successful sports cars primarily with engines of 750 cc / 45 cui to 1500 cc / 91.5 cui. Cunningham's car seen here appears to be one of 17 Tipo S-187's built from 1956 - 1960 with a 70 hp 749 cc / 45 cui twin cam engine with a, for the time, high 9:1 compression ratio.

The real story behind the #23 OSCA on this day in 1959 however is the driver who took the car to victory lane, one D McCluggage from Kansas, who is well known for breaking down discriminating and prejudicial barriers in journalism and at the race track, simply D stands for Denise.

As well as regularly whooping all the boys on the race track she is a seasoned motor sports journalist who was famously sent to Indianapolis by The Herald Tribune only to find she was barred from the press box, pit lane AND garage area, unperturbed she got her story from elsewhere round the track and published anyway.

Phil Hill later described the prevailing attitude at the time "It's a bit embarrassing to me, given today's enlightened attitudes, to admit that in the late 50s I was a bit disturbed by the idea of this woman driver. It wasn't a matter of feeling threatened, but like many men in that period, I had trouble understanding what kind of statement Denise might be making with her driving efforts. The fact is, gender stereotypes aside, she was holding her own on the track."

All Denise wanted to do was win and she did often, after her career as a professional driver was over she became a founding light at AutoWeek where her accomplishments are still scene as an example for others to follow.

Denise recently became the only Journalist to ever be inducted into the Automotive Hall of fame and at over 70 she still writes her 'Drive, She Said' column syndicated in over 90 newspapers across the US and Canada.

Hat's off to Denise gentleman, for waking us up to our equals !

Thanks to Steve and Ed Arnaudin for the photograph, and to Terry O'Neil for the race day information.

Hope you have enjoyed today's prejudice free edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' and that you'll join me tomorrow for a look at a splendid vintage Triumph Dolomite. Don't forget to come back now !


  1. Yet another wonderful story.

    I met Denise at the PVGP a few years back. She is an icon both on and off the track, currently living in Arizona and driving her beloved Suzuki.

    The OSCA is a fascinating story given how the brothers sold their company only to start a new one and compete against their own name.

  2. I believe the bros Maserati made more or less the same mistakes as first time spending all their time and resources on producing racing cars. Racer.

    I should have added that the OSCA was sold to MV Augusta in 1963 and the company wound up operations in 1967.

    Well spotted Chief another vehicle you will just have to add to the family collection :-)

  3. The Maserati bros just wanted to go racing and have some fun. Sounds like a couple of guys we would like to go hang with.

  4. Count me in JC shame we will have to wait until we become daisy pushers before we can join them.