- March 17, 1932
- United States
- Not Active
Fred Gamble is a former motoring journalist, motorsport manager and racing driver from the United States who was shortly active in racing in the late 1950s and early 1960s, even recording one start in the Formula One World Championship.
In 1960, he was driving Behra-Porsche Special for Camoradi USA in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, finishing the race in the tenth place. In the same year, Gamble participated also at Le Mans 24 Hours, driving Chevrolet Corvette C1 for Camoradi.
Gamble was a co-founder of the Camoradi racing team, together with Lloyd 'Lucky' Casner.
Starting a racing career in 1958 with own-built Gambini
Born in March 1932 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Fred K. Gamble was involved to some racing events as a teenager during the 1940s. He graduated from Fort Lauderdale High School in 1950 and then joined the US Air Force. He served in the USAF until 1954, then spent four years at University of Florida. During his college years, Gamble worked as motoring journalist and contributor to several magazines.
During his last semester in college, Gamble spotted a disassembled Crosley Hot Shot and swapped that car for his old Zundapp. Gamble converted a car into Gambini Mk1, using the same name as on his international racing license - Fredrico Gambini. He raced with that car in several national racing events in 1958.
In the same year, he was working for Jarrard Motors of Pensacola, a foreign car importer, and also raced Triumph TR10 for Jarrard in some races. When Jarrard decided not to run the Triumph team at Sebring in 1959, Gamble resigned and returned to South Florida, to race an MGA for a University of Miami in SCCA races.
Gamble was a co-founder of the Camoradi team
In summer 1959, during one race in Miami, Gamble met Lloyd “Lucky” Casner, an ex-airline pilot, car dealer and successful racing driver who announced his intention of racing in Europe and was looking for people to help him fund this project. Gamble had no funds but offered help with publicity, so they formed a partnership and the Camoradi team was founded. The name derived from Casner Motor Racing Division.
Gamble, inspired by Ecurie Ecosse, the Scottish national racing team, suggested an American racing team that will challenge Europeans in the World Championships. After Gamble helped Casner to find sponsors, Camoradi USA became America's first industry-backed international racing team, pioneering the industry backing of racing as we know it today.
The first major sponsor was Goodyear, the world’s largest tire company, and then many other came, such were Shell/BP, Excide, Champion, DA Lubricants, Koni, Dow Chemical and Guest Airways.
After finding sponsors, Camoradi was expanding quickly, running cars of different manufacturers – Maserati Birdcage T61, Chevrolet Corvette C1, Porsche Carrera or Behra-Porsche F2 car. The team gathered some of the best American drivers of that time (Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby, Masten Gregory, Jim Rathman, Chuch Daigh) but also drivers from other countries, not following an original idea of the all-American team.
Solo drive at 1960 Sebring 12 Hours
Fred Gamble himself wasn't racing a lot but he recorded several notable starts in major races. In March 1960, he was driving the #3 Chevrolet Corvette C1 at Sebring 12 Hours, finishing 26th overall and second in GT5.0 class. Officially, he was sharing a car with Jim Jeffords and Bill Wuesthoff but Gamble spent the entire 12 hours in the car.
In May, he recorded DNF at Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers and then, in June, made a debut at Le Mans 24 Hours in a Corvette C1. He was sharing the #4 car with Leon Lilley. They completed 275 laps, which was enough for the tenth place overall and second in class, but they were later excluded and not classified in the official results because of the insufficient number of laps.
Formula One attempt at Italian Grand Prix
In that time, Gamble was living in Modena, Italy, working as Camoradi's European team principal. That lead to his attempt in the Italian Grand Prix of the Formula 1 World Championship, in September at Monza.
Due to a boycott by British teams, the race was opened for Formula Two cars and Gamble used an opportunity to race in a Behra-Porsche Special. At the wheel of the #28 car, Gamble was eighth overall and first among F2 cars when he left out of fuel, so he had to pit and dropped to the tenth place of seventeen entrants.
Gamble planned to race with Corvette at Goodwood's Tourist Trophy in August. He was travelling there from Sweden and had an accident, destroying the car and missing the race. Two months later, Gamble left Camoradi due to some misunderstandings with Casner.
Ending a racing career in a Maserati Birdcage
In December 1960, Gamble met racing patron Frank Harrison from Chattanooga, Tennessee, who proposed him to drive for him in the SCCA championship. Harrison bought the ex-Camoradi Maserati Birdcage Streamliner.
In 1961, Gamble was racing with that car in SCCA national events, starting the season with the second place at Marlboro, Maryland, behind Bob Holbert. Gamble recorded a few more good results before parting ways with Harrison in summer. His good performance was good enough to take the third place in the championship, behind Roger Penske and Walt Hansgen.
The successful managerial career with Goodyear
Following his retirement from racing, Gamble moved to New York and worked for Standard-Triumph North America. A year later, he made a deal with Carroll Shelby, who just started to produce Cobras, to work for him as Sales Manager.
A couple of months later, Shelby and Gamble got together with Goodyear's General Manager of Racing, Tony Webner. The result of that meeting is a foundation of Goodyear's International Racing Tire Division and Gamble was appointed as founding Director.
In February 1964, he established a headquarter at the Goodyear plant in Wolverhampton, England. The golden years followed in which Goodyear clinched seven World Championships and three LeMans victories, company's first Formula One win and Gurney's historic All-American 1967 Belgian Grand Prix win. Gamble turned over Goodyear Racing in 1968 to Leo Mehl and transferred to General Management.