image

Amazing Reims background as Nuvolari blasts his Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Tipo B/P3 to French GP victory on 14 July 1932…

What an endurance test, the race 5 hours in duration! Grands Prix have been 200 miles for so long its easy to forget what the ‘titans’ coped with nearly 100 years ago. Maserati didn’t race so it was a straight fight between Bugatti and Alfa Romeo with the Milan brigade winning comprehensively in their new 2.65 litre straight- 8 Vittorio Jano designed machines.

It was Nuvolari from Baconin Borzacchini and Rudy Caracciola in Alfa Corse entered cars, the best placed Bugatti T51 that of Louis Chiron in 4th.

This article is some words around some great shots of  Nuvolari from the Getty Images archives, treat it as the first in an occasional ‘at random’ series.

image

Tazio, Bremgarten, Swiss GP, Bern 21 August 1938 (Klemantaski Collection)

 Swiss GP, Bern 21 August 1938…

Tazio during the race held in awfully wet conditions. Seaman’s Mercedes lead from pole from teammates Stuck and Caracciola, he opened up a good lead but lost it after being boxed in by backmarkers allowing Rudy to sneak through.

Muller’s Auto Union raced well, Stuck spun and Tazio had undisclosed mechanical dramas in their mid-engined Type D’s. Mercedes 1-3 result was Caratch from Seaman and Manfred von Brauchitsch, all in W154’s.

image

Donington GP 1938

’38 Donington GP…

The winds  of change were blowing in Europe, the race date was changed due to the Munich crisis by three weeks, the race held on 22 October 1938. Nuvolari’s exciting weekend started in practice when his Auto Union Type D 3 litre V12 ran into a deer! But he lead the race from the start then ceded the lead to Herman Lang, pitting an additional time. The engine of Hansons Alta blew with Hasse spinning and crashing on the oil and Dick Seaman losing a lap. Tazio sneaked past Muller back into 2nd, then Herman slowed with a broken windscreen giving the plucky Mantuan the lead which he held to the end of the race. Lang was 2nd and Seaman 3rd both in 3 litre V12 Mercedes Benz W154

image

Tazio with some Nazi flunkies, ‘International Automobile and Motor Cycle Show’ 18 February 1939 Berlin. Hard to avoid these pricks racing for a German team at the time i guess (Popperfoto)

International Automobile & Mototcycle Show, 18 February 1939…

The first German automotive show was held in Berlin in 1897 with 8 cars, visitor numbers grew exponentially together with the growth of motoring itself, by 1939 825,000 people attended to see the new VW and other more sporting exhibits.

image

TN Jaguar XK 120, Intl Trophy Meeting, Silverstone 26 August 1950 (J Wilds)

Silverstone International Trophy Meeting 26 August 1950…

Tazio was entered in a red, standard, ex-demo factory XK120 Jaguar in the production sportscar race during this famous annual meeting.

The MotorSport report of the meeting records ‘It was splendid to see Nuvolari go round at 75.91 mph in a hard-used Jaguar demonstrator, using his gearbox where others trod on their brakes, but on Friday he was said to be ill from methanol fumes – odd, for the production cars were on petrol – and Whitehead drove for him’.

Nuvolari was quite ill by this stage and struggled, he did three slow laps on the first day of practice then Jaguar team manager Lofty England had the task of telling Tazio that he was too slow as a consequence of his fitness.

Doug Nye made this observation of the genius on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’; ‘In his final years Nuvolari was a variably sick man, varying from being in frail shape to being in terrible shape. I have been told by many who met the great man at that Silverstone meeting that he was, indeed, in terrible shape that weekend…and they were all greatly concerned for him…some even wondering if he might not survive the journey home…

Nuvolari had at least as a high a proportion of admirers amongst British racing enthusiasts as he had in his native Italy, and possibly higher, and for many it was like seeing a retired old thoroughbred racehorse, attemping one last gallop on grass, arthritic, blown, sway-backed, and broken down … for many present that weekend it was remembered as a terribly sad sight… particularly for those who recalled the sight of Nuvolari in his pomp at Donington Park, 1938’.

Nuvolari died on 11 August 1953 having suffered a stroke which partially paralysed him the year before, a second one killed him.

Credit…

Imagno, J Wilds, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Moss and Nuvolari at the International Trophy meeting, Silverstone 1950. Shot is symbolic of generational change but it’s also clear just how fragile the great man had become…

image

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s