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1958 Auto Racing Highlights

Jack Brabham, driving a Cooper T43, won the New Zealand 150-mile International Grand Prix at Auckland on January 11. The winning time was 1 hour 53 minutes 24.3 seconds.

Stirling Moss, driving a Cooper T43, won the opening race of the Formula One season, the Argentine Republic Grand Prix in Buenos Aires, on January 19. Luigi Musso, in a Ferrari, came in second and Mike Hawthorn, also driving a Ferrari, was third.

Jorge Magnasco lost his life when his car overturned during a 625-mile road race at Buenos, Aires, Argentina, on January 26. The race was ultimately won by Phil Hill and Peter Collins, who co-drove a Ferrari.

Approximately 200,000 spectators watched Jimmy Bryan win the 500-mile Memorial Day race at Indianapolis on May 30, in a Belond Special at an average speed of 133.791 mph. He won $120,850 in first-place and lap prizes. Pat O'Connor was killed in a 13-car crash in the first lap.

Jerry Unser going over the wall during the 13-car, first lap crash at Indianapolis.
first lap crash at Indianapolis

Jimmy Bryan at Indianapolis.
Jimmy Bryan
Jimmy Bryan's service crew checks his Belond AP Special during a pit stop.
Jimmy Bryan's pit crew at work
Jimmy Bryan just about to capture the checkered flag at Indianapolis.
Jimmy Bryan winning the Indy 500
Jimmy Bryan rejoices with his wife (left) and actress Shirley MacLaine after winning the Indianapolis 500.
Jimmy Bryan being congratulated

Luigi Taramazzo and Giuseppe Derini of Italy, driving a Ferrari, won the Mille Miglia Road Race near Brescia, Italy, on June 21-22. The event claimed two lives when a Giulietta driven by Guido Zerneri and Mario Mora swerved off the road within 10 miles of the start.

Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill, driving a Ferrari, won the 24-hour race at Le Mans, France, on June 21-22.

Olivier Gendebien taking the checkered flag at Le Mans.
Olivier Gendebien

Jim Rathmann won all three heats and the overall championship of the second annual "Race of Two Worlds" held at the Autodromo Nazionale at Monza, Italy, on June 29. The winner's average speed was 166.8 miles per hour.

Stirling Moss in the Race of Two Worlds.
Stirling Moss in Race of Two Worlds

Bobby Unser won the 12-1/2-mile Pikes Peak Climb on July 4 in 13 minutes 47.9 seconds, a record.

Bobby Unser skidding around a corner during the Pike's Peak Climb.
Bobby Unser in the Pike's Peak Climb

Five-time Grand Prix World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio announced his retirement as a race car driver on July 6.

Juan Manuel Fangio
Juan Manuel Fangio

A Ferrari driven by Lance Reventlow and Gaston Andrey won the Road America 500-Mile sports car race on July 9.

Peter Collins died of injuries after his Ferrari crashed into a ditch and he was thrown head-first into a tree during the German Grand Prix at Adenau on August 3. Tony Brooks ultimately won the race, with an average speed of 90.3 miles per hour.

James Miley, 15, of Muncie, Indiana, won the Soap Box Derby on August 17.

James Miley gets a kiss from his mother and a hug from his sister after his Soap Box Derby victory.
James Miley

Two men came close to becoming the fastest American drivers of American cars at the Bonneville (Utah) Speed Trials, August 24-31. Mickey Thompson reached a top speed of 294.117 miles per hour on his first run, but one of his car's three engines exploded during the second run, while traveling at more than 280 miles an hour. Thompson brought the car to a stop and jumped out unhurt. Dave Ryder hit 267.459 miles per hour on his first run, but one of his car's three engines caught fire during the second run. Ryder also escaped his car unhurt. Either top speed would have been a world record, but as neither man was able to complete a second run neither speed became an official record.

Glen "Fireball" Roberts pocketed $13,590 for the first win of his National Stock Car career, the Southern 500 at Darlington, South Carolina, on September 1. Roberts established a new world record with his average speed of 102.59 mph, including four pit stops. His achievement was witnessed by about 80,000 racing fans.

Southern 500 pre-race festivities.
Southern 500 pre-race festivities

Meadowdale Raceway, a new $3-million road-racing course near Elgin, Illinois, attracted over 200,000 spectators for its inaugural Sports Car Club of America race on September 13-14. Bob Walker lost his life when his car turned over during the race. Chuck Daigh finished the 115.5-mile race a length ahead of Lance Reventlow.

Ed Crawford, driving Briggs Cunningham's Jaguar-Lister, won the Grand Prix Amateur Sports Car Race at Watkins Glen, New York, on September 20. The women's race was won the previous day by Peg Wyllie, driving a Lotus Climax.

Riverside, California, hosted the first ever United States Auto Club road race on October 12. Approximately 75,000 spectators swarmed around the more than 2-mile course and watched Chuck Daigh battle Phil Hill for most of the 203-mile distance to win in a Lance Reventlow "Scarab," a modified version of the Chevrolet Corvette. Stirling Moss could not compete in the race because he failed to get the necessary international permission. Jean Behra, who substituted for Moss, finished fourth but also had failed to get necessary international permission to race. Behra drew a year's suspension and the race itself was heavily fined by the international sanctioning body.

Program from the 1958 USAC road race at Riverside.
program from 1958 USAC race at Riverside

Hans Rager lost his life when his Triumph overturned during a qualifying run for the Moroccan Grand Prix. The race, held on October 19, was won by Stirling Moss.

Tony Bettenhausen, 1951 National Champion, regained his title in 1958 with a second place finish at Phoenix on November 11. He became the first driver ever to win the championship without winning a single race during the season.

Tony Bettenhausen
Tony Bettenhausen

Mike Hawthorn beat Stirling Moss by one point to win the Grand Prix World Driving Championship. The championship was not decided until the race at Casablanca, Morocco (October 19), final event of the season. The team championship was won by Ferrari, which had also won the team championship in 1957.

Lee Petty (right), 1953 National Stock Car Champion, reclaimed his title by edging out in points two-time champion Buck Baker. In the 50 of 51 races he competed in, Petty racked up 7 wins, 28 top fives, and 43 top tens.

Lee Petty
Lee Petty

The Sports Car Club of America named Joe and Celia Bechtel the champion driver-navigator team of 1958.

Walter Hansgen retained his National Class C Modified Sports Car title in 1958, winning more races than any other driver. Hansgen drove a Lister Jaguar for the Briggs Cunningham team. Bob Holbert, the Class F leader, was runner-up in point scoring.

In the Year 1958

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The Robinson Library >> Recreation >> Automobile Travel and Racing

This page was last updated on May 27, 2017.