Johnny Mauro Pikes Peak Hill Climb 1948
The story began in 1938
The second world war was looming and the Grand Prix organization needed to make changes. A new 3 litre engine class size was implemented for 1938. In Milan Italy the Alfa Romeo company ,would build four cars for the new class. The 308 or 8C-308 was born. The cars were entered in the Pau Grand Prix, the Tripoli Grand Prix and the Millie Miglia. With just a few hill climb wins and a couple second place finishes overseas the results were not a great success in 1938-1939 . The next stop would be the Indy 500 .
Serial number 422022 (maybe)
The history line is confirmed on the car but the serial number is a maybe. This Tipo 308 was raced at the Indy 500 in 1940 by Chet Miller placed 17th, 1941 Louis Durant placed 6th, and Walt Brown in 1947 with a 7th place at Indy. Not bad for a car built in 38.
Johnny Mauro a native of Denver Colorado a used car dealer, bought the car in 1948 just days before Indy. He raced it at the Indianapolis 500, ended up with an 8th place finish after being relieved as driver by Louis Durant. Prize money was enough to cover his cost of the car and his entry They would attempt to qualify for Indy two more times 1949 and 1950 but didn’t make the field. Top qualifying speed for the car was by Mauro in 1948 with a speed of 121.78, (the car could hit upwards of 170 mph in the straightaways) Best Indy finish 6th in 1941, Louis Durant.
The Pikes Peak Hill Climb years.
The Mauro family lived in the Rocky Mountain region and anyone in that area was or would be overtime a Hill Climb fan. Johnny brought many top notch race cars to the Peak. The Kurtiss Kraft KK2000 from the Clark Gable movie, several Offenhauser powered cars, this Alfa Romeo, and even a Ferrari 375 . (He competed 14 times from 1933-1956)
There would only be a few changes to the car from its Indy race trim to being ready for the PPHC. Carburetion , fuel change and larger rear tires. Some say the Tipo 308 was a mechanics dream.
This bright red Alfa Romeo was raced by Johnny in 1948 to 3rd place overall with a time of 16:54, The following year in 1949 he did not finish, skidding out of control at the last corner just ten yards before the finish line and ran into several parked cars badly damaging the nose of the car.
Johnny would go on to race his Ferrari 375 for the remaining years on the Peak. In 1952 the Alfa Romeo Tipo 308 would have one more ride up America’s Mountain. Charlie Bryant would be the driver of the car and was sponsored by the Johnny Mauro dealership “Import Motors”. The car was becoming an old warhorse in the fast world of race car development. The expensive damaged grill from the 49 race was missing, just a big gasping hole in the nose and the Alfa motor had been changed to a smaller Offy. The last ride would be it’s fastest . 16:07.15, which was only good for 7th. Times change , race cars can either be parted out, passed on or be put away.
The Indianapolis 500 Museum
Where should a one of four built Italian race car with over 15 years of racing be put to rest? In the USA ,the longest running race is the Indy 500 with Pikes Peak being second. The Motor Speedway Hall of Fame museum inside the Indy track is known world wide . That is where great cars go. Details are a little hazy , and the timing unsure (1960’s) . That is where Johnny’s car is now. Restored with a new nose and paint, looking good, not always on display but often rotated onto the main floor. If you go, be sure to check it out, or if not on display ask the staff how its doing. A wonderful car with a wonderful story and a great place to stay.