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#16 1952 Swiss Grand Prix

2021-04-13 00:00

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#1952, Fulvio Conti, Nicoletta Zuppardo,

#16 1952 Swiss Grand Prix

The year 1952 opens with some news. Former Formula One World Champion Giuseppe Farina, during a meeting held on Friday, January 4, with the sports exe

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The year 1952 opens with some news. Former Formula One World Champion Giuseppe Farina, during a meeting held on Friday, January 4, with the sports executives of Alfa Romeo, renews his commitment to be part of the official team of the Milanese squad for 1952. Although no written contract is drawn up, the two parties reach an agreement on the essential points of their relationship, and any change in intentions, both on Farina's part and Alfa Romeo's, seems unlikely. The meeting became necessary due to rumors suggesting Farina's potential transfer to Ferrari. The Turin-born driver had received offers from the Maranello team - as well as from other teams - and negotiations had taken place. However, the agreements between Farina and Alfa Romeo contradict any news linking him to the Ferrari team and affirm that the Milanese manufacturer will continue to participate in Grand Prix races and possibly other major competitions. The decision by Alfa Romeo to abstain from the Argentine and Uruguayan events may, according to some newspapers, have repercussions, possibly resulting in a postponement or even suspension of the entire South American racing program. Simultaneously, the Scuderia Ferrari also suspends the dispatch of its three 4500 cc non-supercharged racing cars, which were supposed to compete, driven by Ascari, Villoresi, Taruffi, and Gonzalez, in the races scheduled in Argentina at the end of February. The reason is directly related to Alfa Romeo's withdrawal from the South American tour. The competitive and spectacular success of the races is at risk: an Argentine Grand Prix featuring European stars but without the national and World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio may provoke more dissatisfaction than interest. However, organizers are also considering the possibility of postponing the events to another period. The end of January, nonetheless, brings significant news. Rumors about interesting developments in the automotive world had been circulating for some time, and now what were mere speculations seems to have materialized: on Monday, January 28, 1952, in Modena, the Turin ace Giuseppe Farina signs the contract that binds him to Ferrari for the entire season. The former World Champion says:

 

"My contract with Alfa expired on December 31, 1951. Since then, many things have changed in the plans of the Milanese team. The decision to forgo the tour in Argentina and other news that I learned only from newspapers made me understand the uncertainty of the situation. Ascari called me from Milan, renewing Ferrari's invitation. I went to Milan and, together with Ascari, reached Modena, where Villoresi and Taruffi had also been summoned. We quickly reached an agreement with Commendatore Ferrari for the races of the upcoming season".

 

When asked about Gonzalez, the Italian driver responds:

 

"The team will consist only of us four Italians, on the basis of equality. Moreover, the program is quite extensive, and there will be room for everyone, in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual respect. Taruffi will also have the role of a test driver".

 

Farina then declares that the first race he will participate in may be the one in Syracuse, and he confirms his participation in the Indy 500 along with Ascari and Villoresi, with special 4500 cc cars. Regarding a possible presence at the Mille Miglia, Farina says:

 

"Almost certainly, I will be present with a Ferrari, I don't yet know what type of car because our team will participate with different cars and models: Ferrari will also be present at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, despite the simultaneous occurrence of other important races".

 

As for his relationship with Alfa Romeo, he says:

 

"They remain good, at least as far as I'm concerned".

 

But will Alfa Romeo participate in the 1952 races?

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"I cannot say; I cannot predict the decision of the Milanese team. I love my activity very much, and I could not refuse the invitation of a prestigious team like Ferrari, while nothing official was communicated to me by Alfa".

 

Farina's move to Ferrari may hint at Alfa Romeo's withdrawal from the upcoming Grand Prix events, which would be a serious loss for major competitions. As for Fangio, there are talks about his possible transfer to the British brand B.R.M., and Gonzalez might follow him to the same team. However, the Italian block prepared by Ferrari seems incredibly strong. Farina's transfer to Ferrari is not a whim or a sign of capriciousness but a carefully considered act, a necessary and inevitable turning point in his career, and the signature on the new contract reflects a situation based on human, technical, and sporting reasons. Enzo Ferrari's invitation to Giuseppe Farina was not new, and the Turin ace had informed the Alfa Romeo manager about it about a month earlier; the Milanese team asked him to remain loyal to his old brand, awaiting the establishment of sports programs for 1952. However, news of significant changes in management followed by the decision to forgo the Argentine tour surfaced. There was also a belief that the World Champion's team would not defend its title in the Grand Prix: it seems that Alfa in 1952 will only participate in sports car competitions. But this is not enough for Farina and Fangio, rare aces for the most challenging cars, and so, through Ascari, Ferrari renewed the proposal to Farina. The uncertainty of Alfa Romeo could no longer be the uncertainty of the former World Champion, who decided and accepted. There was no break with his previous team; simply, the World Champion took the only path imposed by his condition: the certainty of being able to race, and with a car that adequately replaces the one he left. However, this fact represents the end of an era: Farina and Fangio are no longer part of the same team. Farewell to mutual suspicions, fears of injustices, national and ethical controversies. Ferrari now has a team composed of four Italian drivers - Ascari, Farina, Taruffi, Villoresi - and the program seems so extensive that there will be exploits and laurels for everyone: Grand Prix races, Mille Miglia, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indianapolis, Carrera Panamericana. The transition of Alfa to the 4.5-liter category also seems dictated by a technical imperative, by a law of updating to progress, perhaps unrelated to Farina's will: the title of World Champion still belongs to the old and glorious Alfa, but the future belongs to the younger ones and those who constantly seek renewal. 

 

For Fangio and Gonzalez, there is already talk of an Anglo-Argentine alliance, with B.R.M. cars and the drivers favored by Peron: it would be a formidable combination. Other rumors, on the other hand, state that the two Argentine drivers could both find themselves behind the wheel of Alfa Romeo cars. Either way, it would be a gain for the interest of the races. Meanwhile, after the tourist prelude of the Monte-Carlo and Sestriere Rallies, the sport of automobile racing resumes its annual course following the now classic stages: on Sunday, March 9, 1952, in the Tour of Sicily, about a hundred drivers will test, in the sunlight, the inventions that technicians have jealously guarded and prepared in the workshops during the winter. Sicily is the testing ground for the Mille Miglia, a major goal pursued by manufacturers of sports cars, grand touring cars, and touring cars. It is a tough test, more challenging than the Mille Miglia itself, as it is, indeed, a trial: in 1080 kilometers, it is possible to reach the maximum speed only a couple of times, given the torment of about ten curves per kilometer, recommending the use of low gears (the record average speed of Vittorio Marzotto's Ferrari barely exceeds 110 km/h). The renewed Aurelia Gran Turismo, the Alfa Romeo Sprint, the Ferraris, the O.S.C.A.s, the Stanguellinis, and the 1100 cc Erminis, the Zagatos, are particularly awaited. Another event of interest is the debut of the 2000 cc Turin car entrusted to Franco Rol. Test drivers for the Mille Miglia will include Villoresi, Bracco, Biondetti, the Marzottos, Fagioli, Rol, Bornigia, Bonetto, Cortese, Cablane, Valenzano, Sighinolfi, that is, the entire rich constellation of new race drivers. The result could be a surprise because the nature of the route significantly levels the disparity of displacements: for example, in 1951, a 1100 cc car finished third overall. The order of arrival will still have its importance, as a summary of the efficiency already acquired at the beginning of the season, but greater interest will be focused on the new forces, known for now as "hearsay." Meanwhile, on the Mille Miglia route, two months before the race, the Mercedes cars of Caracciola, Lang, and Kling are already in training, and German technicians will be in Palermo as observers. If in Sicily in 1951 Taruffi had lost the lead to Vittorio Marzotto, this time Taruffi must withdraw due to engine failures. 

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Bracco, also at the wheel of the new Modenese car, stays in the race for about a hundred kilometers, until his engine suddenly stops (surely due to the same problems complained of by Taruffi), leaving the field open to the young and impetuous Paolo Marzotto who, despite a cautious race, is again beaten by Ferrari; this time, the credit goes to an not-so-recent model (the 2-liter sports) and a driver who has imperiously attached himself to the thresholds of fame. The Palermo race provides more insights on the technical level, especially thanks to the debut of several constructive innovations. Overall, all cars successfully pass their racing debut satisfactorily: the Ferrari 2760, with the promising Castellotti, secures the fifth position, while the Aurelio Turismo second series, although not representing an absolute novelty in a broad sense, delivers an excellent performance. Slower and heavier than the sports cars from Modena, they boast a very secure handling. The performance of the Alfa 1000 Sprint and the two-liter Turin Siata is also good, and the latter is expected to bring many satisfactions to its manufacturers. The Tour of Sicily has caused a real disaster among small-engine sports cars, while, as is customary, the touring cars have performed very well: the 500 C maintained a very high average speed, along with the Fiat 1100 E, the 1400, and the Aurelio. Among the race's protagonists, the two young Turin drivers, Amendola and Valenzano, deserve mention, now considered at the level of the strongest Italian road racers. After what was seen in Sicily, it is easy to predict the fierce battle of brands and drivers at the Mille Miglia with the participation of strong foreign teams, and later at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Meanwhile, other entries are coming in for the Gran Premio del Valentino at the Automobile Club of Turin, scheduled for Sunday, April 6, 1952. These include Stuck and A.F.M., the driver and the car that prevailed in the last Aosta-Gran San Bernardo; Fischer, Branca, and Whitehead; and a new 2000 cc, 4-cylinder Ferrari will also be in the race, entrusted to a driver from Scuderia Espadon. 

 

Other important entries are expected, including the B.R.M. In the meantime, the American ace Jonny Parsons departs from New York, accompanied by mechanic Hubert Jensen. They are headed to Milan first and then to Modena to pick up the 4500 cc Ferrari without a supercharger that Parsons will drive in the Gran Premio del Valentino and later in all races valid for the Formula 1 World Championship. Parsons is the winner of the famous 1950 Indy 500. His first confrontation, in Turin, with Farina, Ascari, and Villoresi, all with equal machinery, will be interesting. The possibility of Fangio's presence with a B.R.M. is not unlikely if the Argentine ace reaches an agreement with the English team. The trials will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 4, and from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, 1952. The public will be admitted to attend. The prizes amount to 3.700.000 lire, with the overall winner receiving 1.000.000 lire. On Saturday, April 5, 1952, at the end of the Gran Premio del Valentino trials (open to cars up to 1600 cc with a supercharger or up to 4500 cc without a supercharger), the Coppa Torino for cars up to 750 cc will take place. The race distance will be 25 laps, equivalent to 125 kilometers. Several foreigners and all the specialists of small displacements, seen in previous meetings at Mirafiori, will participate. The finish line, both for the Grand Prix and the Coppa Torino, will be located on Corso Massimo D'Azeglio, between Corso Dante and Via Vincenzo Monti. The cars will start towards Corso Vittorio Emanuele, continuing on Corso Massimo D'Azeglio, up to Corso Marconi, where the cars will literally make a U-turn. At the intersection of Corso Raffaello with Corso Massimo D'Azeglio, they will enter the Valentino Park, circle around the monument and the racetrack, travel the slight downhill stretch along the river, reach the underpass of Ponte Isabella to continue almost to Corso Bramante, where they will re-enter Corso Massimo D'Azeglio. The circuit is 4200 meters long, and the race will cover a distance of 60 laps, approximately 252 kilometers. The Automobile Club of Turin is making efforts to organize an event that properly reconnects Turin's driving sport to its traditions, given that after the twelfth Grand Prix of Italy, won in 1948 by Wimille, there has been an interruption of major racing activity in the city. In 1946, Varzi won the Grand Prix, and in 1947, it was Sommer. Giuseppe Farina expresses his opinion on the new Gran Premio del Valentino circuit:

 

"It's a splendid mixed track, with challenging curves. I believe an average speed of 130 to 140 km/h can be achieved".

 

Speaking of Fangio, his former teammate, he says:

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"I don't know anything about it, but it wouldn't be surprising if the World Champion and Gonzales showed up in Turin, perhaps with the English B.R.M. I hope so; it would be a fantastic battle".

 

And regarding Parsons:

 

"I don't know him personally, but since he won a race like the Indy 500, we can be sure he's a cannon".

 

Farina then talks about the upcoming sporting commitments:

 

"I'm packing my bags; in Syracuse, next Sunday, the great round of circuits will begin with a 'formula 2' race. It will be my debut with the Ferrari team".

 

Journalists ask if he has tested the car:

 

"Yes, on the Modena track last Saturday; I tried both the 2-liter without a supercharger, which I will drive in Syracuse, and the 4500 cc with which I will participate in the Gran Premio del Valentino and later in Indianapolis on May 30. Very well, especially the 4500".

 

And regarding the race, he states:

 

"I think mainly about Valentino and Indianapolis; on May 10, there will be the first qualifying tests for admission to the American race, and I believe Ascari and I won't be able to be at the Mille Miglia on May 4. I hope to make up for it later, in the Mexican Carrera".

 

The driver makes clear predictions about the winner of the imminent race:

 

"I don't know... I will race with Ascari, Villoresi, Taruffi (all with Ferrari like mine), and with the French Trintignant and Manzon (their Simca-Gordini should not be taken lightly), with the Maseratis of De Graffenried and Chiron, with Stuck's A.F.M., Fischer's Ferrari 2500 cine, Branca, and Whitehead. The participation of the famous English B.R.M. machines, piloted by Stirling Moss and another driver who could be Fangio, seems very likely".

 

Meanwhile, Parsons arrives in Turin and, after a friendly meeting in Via Carlo Alberto, asks to visit the circuit. Guided on the track, which winds through the beautiful area of the Turin park, the American driver expresses his enthusiasm.

 

"It's very beautiful but very difficult".

 

The American driver has never participated in circuit races but has won about a hundred track races in the United States, excelling particularly in the famous Indy 500 miles. Chinetti and the two American guests return to Milan in the evening, and soon it will be known whether Parsons will stay in Italy or return immediately to the United States. There is also great anticipation for the Siracusa Grand Prix, the first circuit race in Europe in 1952. The race is for Formula 2 cars, i.e., cars without a supercharger up to 2000 cc engine displacement, and representatives from five nations participate. The Grand Prix, held on Sunday, March 16, 1952, takes place on a 6400-meter circuit, which the competitors will have to cover 60 times, totaling 324 kilometers. 

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The characteristics of the track allow over 100.000 spectators to admire the roaring carousel. The starter lowers the starting flag at 3:15 p.m., but a dramatic incident occurs immediately at the start: the exhaust manifold of Villoresi's car, just started, begins to spew a cloud of smoke and red flashes. The fire brigade immediately rushes in, extinguishing the fire, and Villoresi can start, albeit in the last position. The actual race can be summarized in the battle between Ascari and Farina, and then between these two and Taruffi, who in the last laps manages to take the second place from the Turin driver, who had a good race. Villoresi is delayed by a series of engine and clutch issues, and is thus forced to stop five or six times at the pits, losing a lot of time. However, he merits the fastest lap completed by him in 2'13"0 at an average speed of 146.175 km/h. The Frenchman Chiron does not start due to burns suffered in the accident, and Vittorio Marzotto is also absent. One week later, on Sunday, March 23, 1952, the reigning World Champion, Juan Manuel Fangio, wins in Montevideo driving a Ferrari 2000 cc, beating his direct rival, the Brazilian Francisco Lardi, who drives a 4500 cc Ferrari, by 45 seconds. Fangio covers the 152.600 km of the race in one hour, 28'15"2 at an average speed of 103.758 km/h. Manzon follows in third place, then Menditeguy and Simon. The Italian Nello Pagani finishes eighth. However, the spring motor racing scene in Turin inaugurates the 1952 sports season after the preview offered by the Sicilian events. On Saturday, April 5, 1952, the Cup for racing sports cars will be contested, and on Sunday, April 6, 1952, the Valentino Grand Prix for Formula 1 racing cars, followed by the opening of the Automobile Salon. The Ferrari 4500s of the four aces, Farina, Villoresi, Ascari, Taruffi, will participate, as well as the B.R.M. that has been talked about, with two champions, one of whom could be Fangio, who will later be in Italy and will test the brand-new car at Monza. Even without official participation, Alfa Romeo will not be absent, while among the eighteen starting cars, Maserati and Osca will also feature with some promising prospects. In any case, the variety will be even greater among the cars in the opening race on Saturday, as, alongside the already established half-liter cars, there will be a large number of purpose-built constructions exploiting the entire engine capacity allowed by the regulations. 

 

The absence of brand rivalry between the two main protagonists of the race, Farina and Ascari, both in the 4500 Ferrari with natural aspiration, like their great companions Villoresi and Taruffi, will have the effect not only of preventing or breaking any team coalition, offering the four Ferrari aces in mutual competition but also of enhancing the tone and combativeness of the others, who will be far from representing the role of mere extras. This refers especially to von Stuck on the A.F.M. and to a name of the highest caliber that, unless unforeseen events, will present to the Italian public the performances and perhaps the surprises of the mysterious British B.R.M. As certain starters, the two new OSCA 4500s by Rol can already be listed, particularly suitable for this circuit and in very good shape, as demonstrated in Sicily, and Piotti; the Talbot of the great French ace Etancelin, and the Talbot Lagos of the Belgian champions de Tornaco and Claes; the Ferrari 125 of Whitehead, winner of the 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours, and the Maserati-Platé 1500 supercharged by the indomitable Bonetto. The new B.R.M., built in England at the expense of the State by a true consortium of specialized companies, should gather all the latest refinements of racing technology. But, according to the latest rumors, it will not be present at Valentino, or in other major prizes: the impossibility of competing with cars of such caliber has been definitively recognized until other severe tests are carried out in England to decide whether to continue with the development or abandon the initiative altogether. The B.R.M. team had booked rooms and garages in Turin, and the name of Fangio was rumored, as he is known to be traveling to Italy. The naturally aspirated OSCA 1500s, which had already made an impression at the end of the previous season, have undergone a radical overhaul during the winter and should be very close to the performances of the Ferraris, except for the unknown of endurance. Therefore, any surprise is possible. In any case, even if the race were to be really restricted - in the conquest of honors - to a battle between the four Ferrari drivers, it should perhaps be honestly concluded that with the absence of rivalries, a part of the interest disappears. The absence of the B.R.M. undoubtedly gives an industrial (not technical) meaning to the race that is less varied but perhaps enhances, by leveling the tools, the essentially sporting value of the great confrontation. As it happens in America, where often drivers race with the same car or similar cars, the race is dominated by the human factor: they all have the same engine, and the audience doesn't even pay attention to this detail, all focused as it is on cheering for its champions.

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The Turin race will have its good side, however: witnessing the encounter of Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari on two strictly identical cars, representing the best that has been achieved so far in the world of Grand Prix cars. Both belong to the special edition prepared by Ferrari for Indianapolis, according to the regulations of that competition, with the 4500 cc engine that in the last races of 1951 had clearly surpassed the supercharged 1500 cc. The same engine powers Villoresi's Ferrari, which represents a tasty novelty, being a unitary body design. Even newer, indeed revolutionary, is the latest car of the illustrious quartet, entrusted to Taruffi: most likely, it will be a debut of the 2500 cc without a supercharger, created for the Formula Grand Prix that will come into effect in 1954; a car that in the Ferrari clan is considered a real revelation and that on the twisty avenues of Valentino will find itself particularly comfortable. Everyone continues to wonder if Fangio will participate in the Valentino Grand Prix, but the question is destined to remain open until a few hours before the race. The situation is as follows: B.R.M. has given up attempting the Turin circuit because the long tests at Monza have proven disappointing. English technicians have been focusing on their brand-new car for over two years, built with the money from a national subscription, with the difficult aim of taking away the Italians' supremacy in racing. No B.R.M. for Fangio, therefore. There would, however, be the possibility for the Argentine driver to borrow, on the Turin circuit, an OSCA 4500 cc without a supercharger, built by the Maserati brothers. An inhabitant of Milan, registered for the Grand Prix, would lend it to him for the occasion. A very sportsmanlike gesture, aimed solely at increasing interest in the Turin circuit. According to news from London, it seems that Fangio left Buenos Aires by plane on Thursday, April 3, 1952, bound for the English capital, where he is expected on Friday, April 4, 1952. Upon his arrival, he will be informed of the OSCA offer and the possibilities of racing in Turin; if the car meets his approval, he will only have to fly back, land in Milan, and quickly go to Turin. The car is ready and was tested on Wednesday, April 2, 1952, on the track of the Modena aerodrome. It is identical to that of Rol from Turin, who tested it in the Italian Grand Prix last September at Monza: 12 cylinders, 330 HP. Therefore, Rol, Fangio, and Piotti all have the opportunity to defend themselves against the Ferrari squadron. 

 

The four cars for Ascari, Farina, Taruffi, and Villoresi will arrive in Turin on Thursday, April 3, 1952, and will then be prepared for the first tests on Friday morning. Farina has never been lucky in the Grand Prix of his city: once, his gearbox broke after fifty meters. However, he hopes that the same will not happen this time with the special car he will then drive in Indianapolis on Friday, May 30, 1952. On Friday, April 4, 1952, the Valentino car racing circuit enters its practical phase with the start of official training, on a closed circuit to traffic. The tests, open to the public at the flat rate of 150 lire, will take place according to the established plan. On Thursday, the Frenchman Etancelin, the Englishman Whitehead, and several participants in the Michelin-Turin Cup arrive in Turin. From Modena, it is reported that on the track of the aerodrome, Ascari and Villoresi tested two of the cars that the Ferrari team will enter in the Valentino Grand Prix. The engineer Piero Taruffi, who set four world speed records in Terracina, will reach Turin directly from there. Ascari, Commendatore Ferrari, and sports director Ugolini arrive in Turin during the night. The fight in the very crowded Michelin Cup field seems very intense, in which Sighinolfi will also participate driving a very fast Stanguellini 750 cc, Bialbero type. On Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., and from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., the punch operations will take place, at 55 Madama Cristina Street, at the Leone car park. The hope that Fangio can arrive in time to participate in the Valentino Grand Prix is almost gone, and the fight remains confined to the four Ferrari aces. The main probability of an unexpected success concerns Von Stuck and his A.F.M. He is Austrian, just over fifty years old, and has formidable experience, from the moment he was one of the pillars of German motor racing when the silver torpedoes of Auto Union and Mercedes dominated in Grand Prix racing before the war. He is also a technician, a deep connoisseur of his car, methodical in preparation, insatiable in tuning the car, almost meticulous. At Monza, last spring, his A.F.M. quickly jumped into the lead in the first laps, then stopped due to a breakdown. If the Austrian driver has managed to solve the problem of stability, the Ferrari team will, however, have a very fast fox to chase, especially in the initial phase of the Grand Prix. 

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The characteristics of the Valentino circuit are well-suited to such adventures, with its challenging curves that allow no respite and leave the door to success open not only to the most powerful racing cars but also to those whose main feature is agility. On the first day of official training, predictions of all kinds will be put to the practical test. Some are convinced that speeds won't exceed 120 km/h, while others, like Farina, do not rule out the possibility of higher speeds, at least for the fastest lap. It is a highly coveted title to inscribe one's name in the golden book of Valentino, following the likes of Nuvolari, the winner in 1935, Brivio in 1937, Varzi, who excelled in 1946, Sommer, victorious in 1947, and Wimille, who claimed success in 1948. Giuseppe Farina managed to secure second place in 1937, but other times, he was plagued by a series of misfortunes. On Saturday, April 5, 1952, the two great rivals, Farina and Ascari, united by the identity of their car but free to play their own game, set similar but not identical averages: Farina 122.72 km/h, Ascari 120.38 km/h. However, they will find in their fellow racers fierce competitors who will not give them an easy victory. The trials also show that Talbot cars have gained speed compared to the previous year, and Maseratis and Oscas have never appeared so well-prepared. Giuseppe Farina completes the lap of the circuit in 2’03”1, followed by Ascari (2’05"3), Entacelin (Talbot 4500 cc) 2’17”0, Fischer (Ferrari 2500 cc) 2’17"3, Whitehead (Ferrari 1500 cc) 2’17"3, Macchieraldo (Maserati 1500cc) 2’19"1, Schoeller (Ferrari 2000 cc) 2’27"4, Claes (Talbot 4500 cc) 2'32"2; Piotti (Osca 4500 cc) 2’40"3, and Swaters (Talbot 4500 cc) 2'50"0. With general applause, the curtain falls on the interesting prelude, and preparations are made to experience the exciting phases of the great champions' encounter in the Valentino Grand Prix. The ranks are definitively closed with the final trials, with fourteen names on the starting grid. For this race, the starting lineup will follow the order of the best trial results. Therefore, in the front row, side by side, we will see the two great favorites, a world champion and an Italian champion, Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari, both in identical 4500 cc Ferraris prepared by the ingenious Modena-based builder for Indianapolis, representing undoubtedly the highest expression of high-speed automotive technology today. Farina holds the record in the trials, by a fifth of a second, an imperceptible breath that certainly does not allow for predictions. 

 

Confirmation of the absolute freedom given to the two Ferrari aces to compete according to their whims and personal possibilities without any team limitations assures a episode of pure and thrilling sport, perhaps unmatched in recent automotive events. And Villoresi? His victories last year and the possession of a 4500 cc Ferrari do not allow him to be considered third in the prediction, but rather primus inter pares. And what about Taruffi, coming from another world record? He will have the 2500 cc Ferrari, an absolute novelty, slightly less fast than the 4500 cc, but lighter. The golden day for Turin's motor racing is here, comforted by a finally spring-like sun. Only thirteen drivers start the race, as Piotti does not show up. From the honor tribune, where the Prefect, the Mayor, the Provincial Dean, the Comiliter Commander, the Motorization Inspectorate Director, and almost the entire consular corps are present, Honorable Gronchi, the President of the Chamber, descends as the honorary starter. Professionally accustomed to tumult, he bravely endures the howling storm that rushes into the nearby semi-choked curve of Corso Raffaello. The thirteen cars pass together somehow, and thus begins the Valentino Grand Prix. However, the already narrow group of participants thins out from the first lap: Rol is stopped in the box, Stuck ends up in the straw bales and cannot continue, Macchieraldo performs a spectacular double somersault, hitting the left step, crossing the track, the straw, the tree-lined avenue that divides Corso Massimo d'Azeglio in two, the track of opposite direction (fortunately deserted at that moment), and finally stopping, unharmed, against the gate of a building. He raises and withdraws. Soon after, fate attacks the great favorite of the day, the darling of the Turin fans, the man tasked with giving his fellow citizens the pride of leadership. Farina is stopped at the box in the second lap, and no one hopes that the time spent can be recovered. It is an inconvenience with the gearbox: trivial but disorienting. While the workers dismantle and feverishly change parts, Ascari and Villoresi pass and repass twice (indeed, for a couple of laps, Villoresi is in the lead, but then he is overtaken and distanced), followed by Taruffi, Fischer, Whitehead, Etancelin, and Claes. Finally, Farina restarts amid a hurricane of encouraging applause and launches into a desperate pursuit. At the second pass after his recovery, he sets the lap record with 2’03”1, which he will equal later, unmatched by others. 

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At lap 10, he is in tenth place, at lap 20, he is seventh, and at lap 30, he is sixth. However, immediately after, in the Belle Arti curve, just overtaken on the left by Taruffi, he fails to get back on track without hitting the straw bales. Perhaps his generous willingness to respond to the passion of his crowd made him dare too much; perhaps an accidental rear-end skid (which, to be honest, for some laps, did not seem as stable as at the start) prevents him from regaining the track in time. It's a moment: the car spins half a turn, then a full turn, breaks through the straw, exits the track, stops, the audience, not seeing it pass again, holds its breath, and when the loudspeakers tell them that the driver is returning on foot to the stands, there is murmuring, some relieved for him, some regretting the race. Meanwhile, Ascari leads superbly. The Milanese champion is in excellent form, and his victory seems certain, while Villoresi loses from one to one and a half seconds per lap, and it is impossible to expect the impossible miracle from Taruffi, although the great Roman champion, with his 2500 with four-cylinder experimental, manages to stay at a minimal distance from the leading duo. The race continues like this, from lap 22 to lap 57, without much excitement, almost monotonous: behind the three Ferrari men, in order, remain the other two independent Ferraris of Fischer and Whitehead, and finally, the two Talbots of Claes and Swaters, regular even if not very fast. Three laps from the end, another twist occurs: Ascari's Ferrari-Indianapolis has a punctured tank, and fuel gushes out. It is impossible and too risky for him and others to let him continue, so the great champion surrenders, smiling to the grandstand audience that applauds him for a long time. Luigi Villoresi wins, at an average of almost 120 km/h, which is more than respectable for such a challenging circuit. Only six drivers have reached the finish line, confirming that Valentino, technically speaking, was not an easy circuit to tackle. The Turin audience goes home satisfied. The applause directed at Luigi Villoresi, the winner of the Valentino Grand Prix, while Mrs. Farina, the wife of the unlucky champion, presents him with the symbolic gift of flowers, also goes to his more white than grizzled hair. Good Gigi has passed his forties long ago, just like Farina, Taruffi, Stuck, and most of the race protagonists. Clearly, motor racing does not age, and seeing these old wolves of the steering wheel throw themselves into curves, a span apart, with wild enthusiasm, is a spectacle that even excites a young person today. 

 

Tens of thousands of these young people have arrived, along with adults, the elderly, and women, bourgeoisie, military, and ecclesiastical, in bustling waves, assaulting every entrance to the circuit. Almost as much crowd was gathered in the natural stand formed by the right bank of the Po and the first hillside stands, where a binocular renter would have concluded golden business. A public success, therefore, that has tested - also commendably successful - the organization cared for by the Automobile Club of Turin, and mainly by the race director Dr. Gavina Sansone. However, a note must be made about the course, which the main protagonists themselves have defined as harder and more difficult in reality than in appearance, while it would obviously be desirable the other way around. Farina and Ascari regretted the abandonment of the northern part of the track, between Belle Arti and the Botanical Garden, whose inclusion in the current layout would make Valentino the most beautiful European circuit. But will the Municipality agree? And if there were more cars or faster ones, should we not worry about the modest width of some sections of the current circuit, like the westbound side of Corso D'Azeglio? However, one concern has proven to be unfounded: the excessive size and power of the large Ferraris on such a challenging circuit. The 4500 type Indianapolis, which appeared in public for the first time (although the engine and the main parts of the chassis had already triumphed in the decline of 1951), proved to be as agile and maneuverable as their smaller counterparts and significantly more stable and safer. Therefore, it is an absolutely successful test; neither Farina's accident, entirely accidental, nor Ascari's trivial flaw in the tank, probably due to a stone or a too abrupt jump on the rails, could overshadow it. However, in comparison, the first experimental outing of Taruffi's Ferrari 2500 cc is more flattering, revolutionizing the characteristic design criteria introduced by the Maranello team (12 cylinders even for modest displacements) and triumphantly returning to the formula of the 4-cylinder. As is known, the 2500 cc will be the formula for the 1954 Grand Prix: to be precise, 2500 naturally aspirated, 750 with a compressor. Ferrari, as seen, is the first to respond - and excellently - to the new call. Another successful experiment of the Turin day is the possibility of engaging the public with the sole antagonism of the men involved, without the need for a brand type. 


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