Reader Photos: Cuba ’57-’59

Mandy Alvarez wrote in with some photos he took as a boy in Cuba, and with stories to boot!

“On the 1954 Buick century #20: That was a brand new car owned by Vaillant Motors the Buick distributor for the complete island. Mr. Vaillant was a good friend of my father Raul Alvarez del Corral, and sold him the car right after the race. The car had simple modifications: Lowering springs, open exhaust and they removed the wheel coves. It had the “nail head” 322 cubic inch V8 engine.

It ran in one of three or four annual road rally races held every year, something very similar to La Carrera Panamericana. This one was from Sagua La Grande to La Habana (Havana) a 310 kilometers race. The Buick was victorious in the stock car category covering the distance in 2hs 13 min 14 sec averaging 136.907 kph. The field consisted of 37 cars ranging from Oldsmobile, Dodge, Lincoln,Chrysler, Hudson Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford,Mercury one Panhard and the Buick. The driver was Jose Salazar Cubillas.”

This is the grid from a support race for the 1957 Gran Premio de Cuba. Mandy says,

“This picture was taking in Havana, Cuba on the Saturday before the 1957 Cuban GP (won by Fangio). This is the start of one the four national races held. #70 a 1957 Buick Special won this particular event. The driver Albelardo Carreras.”

Mandy’s lifelong passion for motorsports started early, and he went on to race himself in SCCA, IMSA, and FIA sanctioned events, including an appearance at the Daytona 24 Hours race. Below are several other photos from the 1957 and 1958 Cuban GPs, and other Cuban races taken before he left the island in the wake of the revolution.

Thanks for sending these in, Mandy!

We’d love to share more reader photos with Chicane readers. Drop us a line at tips@thechicaneblog.com.

DISCUSS (4 Comments)

  1. Charles Vaillant

    Someone just sent me this edition of The Chicane with these photos from pre-castro Cuba. The gentleman who posted them ( Mandy Avarez) mentions Vaillant Motors And Mr. Vaillant. Well, that Mr. Vaillant was my father and he either owned or sponsored many of the Buicks in these pictures.
    Thanks to The Chicane and to Mandy for some spectacular memories,
    Charles G. Vaillant

  2. Reader Photos: Back to Havana | The Chicane

    […] few weeks ago we were fortunate to receive a handful of photos from racing driver Mandy Alvarez of the Cuban road racing scene he experienced as a boy in Cuba. […]

  3. Mandy Alvarez

    Charlie Vaillant you are right!
    Your Dad and mine were close friends.
    I have more pictures of the Buicks.
    Feel free to contact me.
    Mandy Alvarez
    mandyalvarez22@comcast.net

  4. Leonard Leal

    Hi Mandy,. My father is Nilo Leal. He raced for the Buick race team during the fifties in Cuba. I would very interested in seeing any pics you might have of the Team.

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