This is the untold story of how a Mexican mechanic saved Ferrari.
In 1950, the Pan American Race was born. One of the most demanding endurance races in history that tested the best cars and the most experienced and daring drivers of the time.
Umberto Maglioli in his Ferrari 375 Plus led the fourth and final stage of the race. Shortly before finishing the fourth stage, his car started to break down. His Ferrari 375 Plus had an oil leak through a hole in the crankcase.
In the middle of nowhere and with no spare for this vital part of the car, hopes of finishing the race were virtually nil.
During the fifth stage of the race and when the car was almost about to stop working, Umberto Maglioli stopped in the middle of the road when he saw a small workshop called "El Milagro".
Maglioli was received by Renato Martinez who was the owner and only mechanic of the workshop in the middle of nowhere. Renato Martinez confirmed to Maglioli that it was in fact an oil leak in the crankcase and that he had a "creative" solution to fix it in moments. At least to be able to complete their journey.
Renato Martinez grabbed a bucket and a large bar of soap. He also took three small bottles of Coca-Cola and gave them to Maglioli, saying, “While you drink this Coke, I will fix your car. »
An unbelieving Maglioli could only sit, drink the coke and wait for a miracle. Meanwhile, Renato Martinez disassembled the Ferrari and, using the bar of soap, began to gradually rub the carter with it. By friction, the soap melted and created a paste that sealed the leak hole. The soap "cuts" the oil and sticks to the metal in the crankcase and when it solidifies it becomes hard as a rock.
Amazed, Maglioli thanked Renato and pulled out a small Roliflex camera from Ferrari which he used to capture the miraculous moment. The “El Milagro” workshop and Renato next to the Ferrari 375 Plus being repaired have been immortalized.
Umberto Maglioli in his Ferrari 375 Plus finished stage five of the race in first place and changed Ferrari history forever.
While Ferrari was a well-known car in Europe, it was not in America and the marque was far from an economically viable business. Ferrari desperately needed to prove to America that its cars were superior, fast and reliable. Winning the race would bring them recognition and its sales in the United States, which would help save the brand from bankruptcy.
Some time later, Renato Martinez received by mail the printed photograph Maglioli had taken of that moment. The photo was accompanied by a letter thanking Renato and read: “Renato, the Mexican miracle that helped Ferrari. This letter was signed by a man named Enzo Ferrari.