By Philip Yanni
Photos by Mark Yanni
The passing of Maserati collector Doug Magnon in February of this year following a brief battle with cancer, left a large hole in the Maserati world. Doug was passionate about Maserati, Eagle race cars, and anything involving Italy, including food and wine. Doug’s cars didn’t collect dust; he drove his Maseratis and he drove his race cars. Doug’s interest in Maserati, which began with an Indy, led to the largest collection of Maseratis in North America and the creation of the Riverside International Auto Museum (RIAM)
where the cars are on display, ready to be driven in the next race or rally. Doug grew up in Riverside, California, and Dan Gurney happened to be a family friend, it was inevitable that Doug would collect and race MR Eagles. In March of 2007 Doug purchased his first race car, a 1969 Eagle Indy, known to race fans as Number 42.
In July 2007 Doug was hot on the trail of the 1969 AAR Eagle Formula 5000 car. Doug knew the driver, Tony Adamowicz, lived in the Riverside area and he knew the car was out there waiting to be driven. After a series of negotiations, the car and driver were reunited. It took a lot of hard work, but the RIAM team won the vintage racing Formula 5000 series with the same driver that had won the championship in 1969 — a great story only Doug could have pulled together.
Doug also tracked down and purchased Dan Gurney’s personal 1966 Indy race car in 2008. With the help of the RIAM chief mechanic, Bill Losee, they made the Eagle ready to race again. Doug competed in the car over the past few years and a high point for him was being invited to run the car at the Monterey Historics in 2012 that honored Dan Gurney.
His passion for the AAR Eagle led to the creation of the “Legends of Riverside” event held each year at the Riverside International Auto Museum. With the help of Dan Gurney, Doug managed to contact a wide spectrum of drivers who had competed at the Riverside raceway and created a place for them to celebrate the history of the racetrack. He loved the Riverside racetrack and understood its place in the Southern California racing lore. The Legends event was a way to give something back to the drivers and teams. The first honoree was Carroll Shelby, who had a smile a mile wide all night long.
The museum’s collection reflects what Doug loved to drive; he enjoyed race cars, Quattroportes, Boras and the 1951 A6G 2000. The QP was his favorite wine hauler and made many trips to Paso Robles to support his passion for wine. The Bora was his choice for time-speed-distance rallies, even if it was known to leave a trail of frog juice on occasion. For the 100th Anniversary of Maserati at Pebble Beach, the restored A6G — with a few last minute adjustments — was the way to go.
The Museum continued to grow through the 2000s as Doug bought every Maserati he could find. The purchase of a silver 3500 GT was soon followed by an Indy, a Merak and a Bora. He added four or five cars to the collection each year. One of the most outstanding cars in the collection will be at Concorso Italiano in Monterey this year; a Frua-bodied QP built for the King of Spain. Frua made just two QPs and this one is all original and nearly perfect.
Did I mention the museum’s MC-12? An incredible beast, the MC-12 was driven on a wine tour with Maserati North America in 2007 and it probably transported a case or two of wine as well.
With a new board of directors and the support of the Magnon family, the Riverside International Auto Museum continues to support Doug’s vision. Doug’s passion for Italian cars was renowned. He infected everyone he met and he was a shot in the arm for those already infected. Having traveled to Italy with Doug and his wife Evonne on several occasions, it was a privilege to see how much everyone appreciated his knowledge, passion and sense of humor. There were many great days with Maserati North America executives, Mateo Panini of the Panini Collection, and Adolfo Orsi. There was always one more car, one more building and one more restaurant he wanted you to see.
Rest in peace, Doug. We will miss you.
This article originally appeared in Viale Ciro Menotti, Issue #105.