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Piero Taruffi

2021-01-28 23:00

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Piero Taruffi

Piero Taruffi was born in Albano Laziale, in the province of Rome, on October 12, 1906. In his life he will become a pilot both on two and four wheels

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Piero Taruffi was born in Albano Laziale, in the province of Rome, on October 12, 1906. In his life he will become a pilot both on two and four wheels, record holder, test driver and designer, and his palmares will be so vast that it can only be compared with those of the greatest drivers of all time. The Roman rider will win many motor racing and motorcycling races but few know that Taruffi was an enfant prodige, as he won his first gold medal at the age of three in a beauty contest for children and already in the university years. he ranks first in the Italian Championship and fourth in the French Championship by participating, as an amateur, with the university ski team.

 

But it is the passion for engines that peeps into his life first with two wheels and then with four. After the victory in Rome - Viterbo in 1923 at the wheel of his father's Fiat 501, Piero Taruffi will triumph on the circuits of Pescara, Tripoli and Livorno on the Rondine 500, built by engineer Giannini in collaboration with the Roman driver, fresh from graduation. in engineering. In 1930 Taruffi will return to four wheels, and will win the Tunis - Tripoli regularity race with an Alfa Romeo 1750, subsequently finishing second to Teramo - Civitella with an Itala 2000. The decisive event for the Lazio driver's career will however be the 'meeting with Enzo Ferrari, who appreciates his speed qualities.

 

With the Ferrari team, Taruffi will participate in the Rome Grand Prix in 1931, taking second place, at the Monza Grand Prix in 1932, and in the Mille Miglia in 1933, finishing in third place. The collaboration relationship with Ferrari will end suddenly, but not definitively, on the occasion of the Montenero motorcycle race. The Roman driver, ignoring the contract that binds him to Ferrari, takes part in the race riding a Norton, and wins by placing himself in front of Aldrighetti, a driver belonging to the Scuderia Ferrari. In 1933 Taruffi will accept the proposal of the Maserati brothers who will entrust him with a prototype on trial. On this occasion, during the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Taruffi will be the first to use the seat belts, prepared for him by his mother and sister, and the protective iron helmet.

 

The following year, exactly on May 6, 1934, he will replace Nuvolari and will compete in the famous Corsa dei Milioni which takes place on the Tripoli circuit. For the occasion, he will be entrusted with the powerful Maserati V.5. In the first phase Taruffi will dominate the race but will make a mistake at the Tagiura curve, going off the road; the Roman pilot will be thrown out of the cockpit. The convalescence will last a few months. Not surprisingly, the Roman driver will take part in the Vermicino-Rocca di Papa in an Alfa Romeo 2300 Sport offered by Enzo Ferrari, with whom the friendship had never been interrupted. From 1934 to 1940 the Lazio driver will compete in numerous races for various teams, and once the conflict is over he will be hired by Cisitalia where he will be a driver, technical consultant and sports director.

 

With the Cisitalia team Taruffi will win the Caracalla Grand Prix in 1947, and excel in the 1100 class at the Giro di Sicilia in 1948: finally, at the end of the competitive season, he will also get fourth place at the end of the Monza Grand Prix. 1948 is also the year in which Taruffi will be able to carry out an ambitious project: the Bisiluro, a record-breaking car designed by Taruffi himself and built in collaboration with engineer Giannini. From 1949 to 1952 he will compete alternating between Ferrari, Maserati and Cisitalia, before moving on to Lancia in 1953 with which he will participate in the Carrera Panamericana, finishing in second place. Of that race Taruffi will say:

 

"For the Mexicans, a generous and easy to enthusiastic people, I even became an idol. They nicknamed me the Zorro Plateado, or the Silver Fox and when the following year I returned to Mexico I saw in the taxis, among the various memories that the drivers they want to paste on the dashboard, my photograph next to that of the Virgin of Guadalupe. A new word tarufear was also coined to indicate a fast driving".

 

The following year he won the Targa Florio and the Giro di Sicilia at the wheel of the Lancia Sport type D24. At the same time, he will also develop an excellent career in Formula 1, where he will compete in a total of eighteen races, with 41 points obtained and a victory at the 1952 Swiss Grand Prix. The 1957 season ended Piero Taruffi's competitive activity, winning the most coveted victory: once he returned to the Ferrari team for good, he won the 24th edition of the Mille Miglia. Once his competitive career is over, the italian driver remains active in the racing world, playing the role of race judge and talent scout. Furthermore, his work as a track designer cannot be forgotten, given that the Misano Adriatico, of Funabashy and Izu in Japan, and the extension of the Vallelunga racetrack, which will be dedicated to him in 2006, bear his signature. Piero Taruffi will pass away on January 12, 1988, but the memory of his exploits with two and four wheels will never be forgotten.

 

Simone Centonze

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