top of page

Onofre Marimon


- The road is dangerous.

- I want to go on.

«The adventures of Pinocchio»

The history of Formula 1 consists of many pages, black and white, soaked in glory, gasoline, sweat and blood. Onofre Marimon forever entered the history of Formula 1 as the first driver who opened its black page.

Onofre was born on December 19, 1923 in the city of Zarate, in the province of Buenos Aires, and his father, Domingo, was a well-known Argentine driver who became famous in the Turismo Carretera road races. At the time, the competition was Argentina's premier annual motorsport event, attracting many famous Argentine drivers, among whom was Juan-Manuel Fangio himself, who became Domingo's close friend.


Naturally, Onofre could not help but admire his fearless father and from childhood he dreamed of driving a racing car. In 1949, Onofre realized his dream and immediately showed his talent by winning one of the Turismo Carretera races in Mar del Plata, driving his father's Chevrolet. However, success at the local level did not greatly appeal to the young Argentine, and his heart aspired to Europe, where his father's friend Fangio was already shining with might and main, and his close friend José-Froilan Gonzalez also began his career. To Onofre's relief, his father was not opposed to his departure, especially since Fangio himself promised Domingo to take care of him. In 1951, Onofre made his first trip to the Old World and took part in the "24 Hours of Le Mans" race, sharing the seat with Gonzalez at the wheel of the Talbot Lago 26C.


However, the first step is always troublesome, and the Argentinean could not reach the finish line due to problems with the radiator. However, Onofre did not lose heart, and a few weeks later he took part in his first Grand Prix of the Formula 1 World Championship in France, driving a Maserati 4CLT / 50 of the Scuderia Milano team.


In qualifying, the Argentine finished 15th, becoming the fastest driver in a Maserati car, but he lasted only two laps in the race, after which he retired due to engine problems. Whatever the case, it was still a good day for Argentina as Fangio won the Grand Prix and Gonzalez finished second in his first race for Ferrari. Sadly, Onofre never got the chance to start again that year, but despite this he became a regular in the Formula 1 paddock and was one of the first to congratulate his friend Gonzalez on his first victory in British Grand Prix.


Onofre himself was nicknamed "Pinocho" in the paddock, because he had a certain resemblance to the famous Disney cartoon character and had the same cheerful and friendly character.


1952 turned out to be a difficult year for Argentine drivers in Europe. Newly crowned Formula 1 champion Juan-Manuel Fangio almost died at the very beginning of the season during an accident at the Monza Grand Prix and was out of action for the rest of the year. Gonzalez, who became Fangio's teammate in Maserati, was also forced to miss almost the entire season and took part only in the last Grand Prix in Italy, although he managed to take second place there. Onofre, on the other hand, was still little known in Europe, so there was no place for him at all in any of the Formula 1 teams, and he returned to his native Argentina, where he competed in local races.

However, the following year, Onofre returned to Europe again, having received an invitation to drive for Maserati in Formula 1. This was facilitated by Fangio, who, having recovered from his accident, persuaded the management of the Italian team to give the young Argentine a chance, fulfilling the promise given to Domingo Marimon. And Onofre did not disappoint his patron. In his first Grand Prix for the Italian team, held at the Spa-Francochan circuit, he had a real battle with the Ferrari drivers and eventually finished third, even though he had to drive the last third of the distance with a faulty engine.


After such an impressive performance, Maserati extended the contract with the young Argentine until the end of the year, and now Onofre has become a full member of the Italian-Argentine team, becoming the teammate of his mentor Fangio and his best friend Gonzalez.


Driving for such a team was the ultimate dream of Onofre, but further performances did not turn out quite the way the Argentine would like. In the French Grand Prix, a stone flying out from under the wheels of an opponent broke the radiator on Onofre's car, because of which he lost 6th place. In Great Britain, the Argentine fought for 5th place with Farina throughout the race, but in the end his engine let him down.


The next round of the World Championship was held in Germany, and at the Nurburgring track, the Argentine had his weakest performance of the season. The famous Nordschleife, which length was almost 23 km, consisted of many turns, and Onofre, driving on it for the first time, could not remember the entire route and was noticeably inferior in speed not only to Fangio, but even to the third driver of the team, Felice Bonetto. In addition, Onofre failed the start of the race, and although he later managed to make his way to 7th place, due to problems with the suspension, he never made it to the finish line.


After such a performance, Onofre needed a good result like air, and at the next stage in Switzerland he immediately was very quickly, managing to take fifth place on the grid. In the race, the Argentine looked even better and, thanks to problems of his rivals, managed to break into second place, but the car let him down again, and Onofre finished the race in the pits with an overheated engine.


However, Onofre's best race was yet to come. The last stage of the World Championship took place in Italy on the famous Monza circuit, and the Argentinean immediately fell in love with this high-speed track. In qualifying, Onofre took 4th, his best starting position of the season, and in the race he showed such a speed that he amazed all observers. This Grand Prix was remembered for the magnificent fight that three world champions Alberto Ascari, Juan-Manuel Fangio and Nino Farina led from the very start, and which continued until the very last meters of the distance. On that day, the three great drivers constantly overtook each other, then got ahead, then rolled back, but the gap between them throughout the race did not exceed 2 seconds! And the only driver who was able to match the speed of the three champions was Marimon, who was always within a second of this trio and periodically overtook one or the other!


Unfortunately, luck bypassed the Argentinian this time again, and about halfway through the distance he had problems with the oil radiator, forcing him to drive into the pits. However, the Maserati management was not going to leave their leader Fangio alone to be torn to pieces by the two Ferraris and decided to use Onofre's speed to help Juan-Manuel. After repairing the car, the mechanics released Marimon right behind the leading trio, and the Argentine immediately joined the fight again, despite the fact that he was already three laps behind! The culmination of this magnificent Grand Prix was the last lap. Ascari took the lead, and he was the first until the last turn, but wanting to get out of it at maximum speed, the Italian pressed the accelerator pedal too early, and he skidded. Marimon, who was nearby at that moment, could not avoid a collision and pushed the Ferrari off the track, and Fangio leaked past along the inner edge and flew to the finish line, bringing the Italian trident its first victory in Formula 1! So Onofre unwittingly contributed to the first success of Maserati and thus thanked his patron.


According to the results of 1953 Onofre took only 9th place in the World Championship, but thanks to his strong performances at the end of the season, the Argentine managed to make a proper impression on the Maserati management, which did not hesitate to extend his contract for the next season. Moreover, with Juan-Manuel Fangio leaving the team for Daimler-Benz and Gonzalez becoming a Ferrari driver, Onofre unexpectedly found himself as the leader of the team, having received two World Championship debutants Sergio Mantovani and Luigi Musso as teammates. However, Fangio still spent the first two Grand Prix of the 1954 championship in his former team, which he won with brilliance. Things weren't going so well for Onofre. In his native Argentina, he managed to take 6th place in qualifying, but he was inferior to his rivals in the race and eventually completed it ahead of schedule due to engine problems. At the next stage in Belgium, Onofre qualified 4th, but the engine failed him again at the very beginning of the race, forcing the Argentine to stop the fight.


The next Grand Prix was held in France and was the debut for the returning Silver Arrows, however, despite the fact that Fangio was now driving for the German team, Onofre did not get any easier, as the reigning world champion Ascari now became his teammate who decided to temporarily join Maserati in anticipation of the debut of his new Lancia team.


In the very first qualifying, Alberto, driving an unfamiliar car, surpassed Marimon by more than a second, taking third place, and Onofre got 5th position. However, the chances of the Argentine on the track in Reims, which was considered the killer of engines, were still few. Already at the very beginning of the race, the French track began to justify its name, and the engines on the cars began to burn out one after another, but Marimon was lucky for some time, and his rivals were the first to drop out of the race, allowing him to rise to third place. However, about a third of the distance, he also had engine problems, and the Argentine retired again, for the third time in a row.


After such a start to the season, it was time to give up, but Onofre did not do it and was determined to turn the tide in his favor. And at the next stage in the UK, he succeeded. At the same time, the beginning of the Grand Prix turned out to be the worst for Maserati. Due to an error in logistics, the team's cars were delivered to the wrong port in France and did not arrive at the track until the last day of qualifying, as a result of which all the Italian trident drivers had to start from the last row. However, this only inflamed the team, and when the checkered flag went down, the Maserati drivers had the best start and immediately won back many positions. Marimon had a truly fantastic start at all, and, having overtaken more than twenty rivals, he immediately took 6th place! At the same time, as in France, many of his rivals had technical problems during the race, and the Argentine, climbing higher and higher, eventually finished the race in third position, having won his second podium in his career.


That day was generally one of the best for Argentine motorsport, because in addition to Onofre, Gonzalez had an excellent performance, who had no equal in this race, and Fangio, although he finished only fourth due to problems with the gearbox, led the championship by a huge margin, winning the first three races of the season. At the same time, Juan-Manuel rejoiced at the success of his friends no less than themselves and congratulated them one of the first.


However, two weeks later the German Grand Prix began, and the joy of the Argentine people was replaced by grief. This weekend was the first time Marimon spent in the status of the leader of the team as Ascari had decided to leave Maserati after two unsuccessful races. This put additional pressure on the Argentine, who was expected to have a good result on the track, which he disliked last year. The first two days of qualifying were spoiled by rain and the drivers only occasionally went to the track, but one of the fastest among them was Stirling Moss, who drove privately in the same Maserati 250F as Onofre's. The Englishman has generally shone this season, managing to earn his first podium finish in Belgium and showing a superb performance at home in British Grand Prix. Due to technical problems, Moss never made it to the finish line, opening the way for Marimon to his second podium, but the Maserati management looked at the talented Englishman with obvious interest and even offered him their technical support in the upcoming Grand Prix. And now Onofre, no matter how hard he tried, could not approach Moss' time. Fortunately, his patron was literally at his side, and Onofre, having walked to the garage of the German team, turned to him for advice. Fangio, after listening attentively to his protégé, suggested that he go through the qualifying lap following him the next day, to which Onofre gladly agreed.

On the last day of qualifying, the weather cleared up already in the morning, and the drivers, seeing this as a good opportunity to improve their own time, immediately went to the track. Despite the agreement with Fangio, Onofre also decided not to miss favorable conditions, and without waiting for his mentor, drove to the track. The first lap he went to warm up, on the second, the Argentine did not take much risk and did not improve his own time, and on the third, Onofre decided to go all-in. In each of the numerous turns of the Nürburgring, the Argentine tried to brake as late as possible, trying to win back a split second, and he tried the same thing before the Wehrseifen corner, which was a very treacherous place, being the beginning of the descent to the Adenau bridge. It was probably because of this descent that Onofre missed the necessary braking point and braked too late, as a result of which his Maserati, instead of entering the turn, flew in a straight line, rammed bushes and trees growing on the side of the road, and, tumbling, flew down the slope.


Onofre had no chance of surviving such an accident, and he died just a few minutes later after being pulled out from under a wrecked car. When the news of the accident reached the paddock, Gonzalez immediately got into the car and rushed to the scene, but when he got there, he found only the lifeless body of his best friend.


Heartbroken, Gonzalez returned to the pits, told everyone about the death of Marimon and began to sob on Fangio's shoulder.

1 (2).png

Naturally, the whole paddock was shocked by this news, especially since Onofre, always so cheerful and friendly, was everyone's favorite. Paying tribute to their deceased driver, the Maserati team did not participate in the Grand Prix, but already at the next stage in Switzerland, the same Moss, whom Onofre was so afraid of, became its new leader.

The death of Marimon had the most severe consequences for Argentine motorsport. It can be said that on that day Argentina lost two of its most promising young drivers at once, since José-Froilan Gonzalez, who had not recovered from the shock caused by the death of his friend, also left Formula 1 at the end of the season. Therefore, when Juan-Mauel Fangio ended his career, there was no one to pick up the glorious flag of Argentina, and the next star of this country lit up in Formula 1 only fifteen years later.

bottom of page