In the late 1950s, Cuba’s Batista government had a vision: create a world-class racing event that would attract wealthy tourists, especially from the neighboring United States. The chosen location for this exciting endeavor was none other than the picturesque Malecon Avenue, Havana’s beachfront boulevard. And so, the Cuban Grand Prix was born.
The inaugural 1957 race was nothing short of spectacular. A legendary lineup of drivers gathered to race through the streets of Havana, with the famed Argentine racer Juan Manuel Fangio leading the pack in his Maserati 300S. Competing against him were Carroll Shelby in a Ferrari 410 and Alfonso de Portago in a Ferrari 860, among other talented drivers. In the end, it was Fangio who crossed the finish line first, adding another victory to his already impressive career.
The event was not without its share of drama, however. Just a year later, during the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix, Fangio was kidnapped by anti-government rebels linked to the 26th of July Movement. Though he was released unharmed, the incident cast a shadow over the race’s reputation and contributed to its eventual demise.
Despite its brief existence, the Cuban Grand Prix of 1957 remains an unforgettable moment in Havana’s history. The thrilling race, set against the stunning backdrop of Havana’s beachfront, showcased the city’s vibrant atmosphere and provided an exciting glimpse into Cuba’s potential as a racing destination.