Alejandro's Racing Years
Argentina - O.S.C.A. & Italy
From an early age, Alejandro's passion was racing cars and his vision was to one-day develop mid-engined cars of his own. During his early years he competed in a series of races such as the 1954 1000km of Buenos Aires racing an Alfa Romeo, and won his class in that same race one year later with his co-driver Reyes in a 2 litre Maserati A6GCS. In the 1955 and 1956 Buenos Aires 1000km races Alejandro raced a Maserati and placed 7th and 4th respectively.
Once Alejandro settled in Italy he began his days as a test driver for OSCA (founded by the Maserati brothers,) in Bologna, Italy. It was there where he met his second wife, American heiress Elizabeth 'Isabelle' Haskell, herself a very capable racing driver and together, they raced successfully in OSCA sports cars from 1956-1959.
During his OSCA racing years (spanning three years), Alejandro participated in dozens of races, many with his wife, Isabelle. He made his Le Mans debut in 1958 driving a 750cc OSCA Sport with co-driver Colin Davis.
In 1959 Alejandro left OSCA to pursue his dream...
De Tomaso - OSCA "Isabelle"
In 1959, Alejandro became frustrated with the design limitations imposed by the Maserati brothers and left OSCA to pursue his dream of designing his own mid-engined road and race cars, to pursue his own brand. It was at this time the de Tomaso's decided to move from Bologna to Modena, and developed his first new racer, a Formula 2 'monoposto', powered by a DOHC 1492 cc OSCA engine as Alejandro received permission from the Maserati brothers.
The car was a Formula 2 "monoposto" featuring a 1.5 liter OSCA 4 cylinder engine. Named the Isis or "Isabelle", (named after his wife) made its racing debut at the Sebring circuit in December 1959. Initially, the car made a good impression with a top speed of 240 km/h, but was forced to retire from its first race with mechanical issues.
Shortly thereafter, De Tomaso accepted fifteen orders for similar cars -- which were never built -- because Alejandro already had new plans in mind. He viewed the future opportunity was to be in the new Formula Junior class, and as a result he built several cars for this purpose.
De Tomaso - Alfa Romeo
In 1959 the De Tomaso's moved to Modena and Alejandro built his next race car, a 'monoposto.' This single-seater employed a 1492 cc OSCA engine, also mounted at the rear. De Tomaso designs made a handful of Formula 1 appearances from 1961 to 1963, with his own chassis and mix of engines.
De Tomaso - Tipo 801 V8
For the Tipo 801 V8, De Tomaso took it upon himself to construct his first all-original Formula One race-car. Alejandro hired acclaimed designer Alberto Massimino, who was formerly responsible for the first Ferrari race car, and helped develop Maseratis such as the 4CLT and the double World Championship-winning 250F.
In 1962 the De Tomaso 801 debuted, with an all-new 135-degree 1498 cc V8 with 200 CV (147 kW) at 9500 rpm mated to a six-speed De Tomaso transmission. The Tipo 801's chassis was made up of aluminium tubing, with the forward section still based around that of the old F1 and the near “flat” engine helped lower the car’s center of gravity.
The 801 made its debut at the seventh round of the 1962 Formula One season, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Argentinian stock-car driver Nasif Estefano was appointed as the driver.
De Tomaso - 505/38
For the 1969 season De Tomaso planned a return to F1. Dallara had created a new Formula 2 car designated the '103' and it first appeared in the hands of Jonathan Williams in the Monza Lotteria. The Tipo 103 (the 505/38 test car) was also raced by Jacky Ickx and Piers Courage (who finished third in a heat at Vallelunga) and its performance was promising enough to convince Frank Williams to sign a deal for De Tomaso to build him F1 cars for the 1970 season.
Meet the 505/38.
In 1970 De Tomaso re-entered F1 with and produced a new car, the Cosworth DFV-powered 505/38, for Frank Williams Racing Cars. The 505 was designed by Gian Paolo Dallara and Frank Williams had appointed Piers Courage as driver. In total, three cars were produced. The name was derived from 505 being the chassis number and this being the 38th racing car that Alejandro had built-to-date.
The 505/38 showed promise in the first four races, however in the fifth race at the Dutch Grand Prix, the De Tomaso 505 flipped and caught fire sadly killing Courage.
Following the tragic accident, the team continued racing at first with Brian Redman, then with Tim Schenken; however, the partnership was disabled at the end of the season.