Mantovano-Volante

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Comber straight Nuvolari overtook Hall, who was holding 112 m.p.h. and the latter hit a bank, buckling a wheel. That lap the Italian clocked 10 min. 6 sec., or 81.15 m.p.h. Yet Hamilton began to gain on handicap, in three-quarters of an hour reducing Nuvolari’s lead from 47 see, to 22 sec., while it seemed likely that the faster Magnette would require another stop for fuel. When the pit signalled that he led by only 3 seconds, Nuvolari responded by throwing his vizor to the bottom of the cockpit, pulling clean goggles down over his eyes and pushing Hounslow, who had

fully lowered his aero-screen, right down into the scuttle. The lap time dropped to 10 min. 2 sec., equal to 81.42 m.p.h., but the M.G. Midget was only four seconds slower, at 77.2 m.p.h. and now it led again, by ten seconds on handicap. Hamilton, however, needed fuel, but a lightning pit stop kept him in the lead. If Nuvolari was to win he had to wipe that out on the last lap. The only comment need to make on his virtuosity is that he completed this lap, (after going onto the 2-gallon reserve fuel supply in the 30i-gallon tank) at 80.35 m.p.h., having overtaken the smaller M.G. at nearly 115 m.p.h. on the Comber straight, where Hamilton reached 108 m.p.h., to win by 40 seconds, at 78.65 m.p.h. Notice that in this intense lap Nuvolari broke no more records—there was so little fuel left (about 4 gallons) that the victorious M.G. Magnette had to be replenished before a smiling Nuvolari in his leather wind-breaker, sleeveless waistcoat and familiar garb, dared start on his lap-of-honour, while his tyres were down to the canvas. So he eased up after passing llamaton—and how many other drivers would have the will-power to do so under such exciting circumstances ? That his engine had spluttered and stopped as the finishing line was crossed, due to an empty fuel tank, is just another legend to be debunked. Nuvolari’s average speed was only 0.06 m.p.h. slower than the fastest average in the race, set up by Rose-Richards’ Alfa-Romeo which finished third, and, as Barre’ Lyndon points out in his book ” Circuit Dust,” had no handicap been in force, Nuvolari would have needed only half-a-mile start in 468 miles to have beaten the Alfa-Romeo outright. He broke the 1,100-c.c. lap record fifteen times and was only 1.88 m.p.h. slower for the entire race than Lord Howe’s supercharged 2.3-litre Alfa-Romeo had been in finishing 4th in the 1932 race at the highest T.T. average speed up to that time. And Nuvolari had scarcely driven an M.G. Magnette before he started in the race !

Varzi and Nuvolari both drove again after the war. Varzi won at Turin and was second at Milan in 1946 with a Tipo 158 Alfa-Romeo and in 1947 he was victorious at Bari, 2nd in the European and Italian Grand Prix, 2nd in the Argentine, and 3rd in the Swiss Grand Prix. 1948 saw him finish 3rd at Bari in a Cisitalia. The end came late one afternoon while practising at Berne in a slight mist, when, at a corner, he made the only real mistake of his career, and was crushed beneath his Tipo 158 Alfa-Romeo.

Nuvolari made only a few appearances between 1946 and 1948, but these included winning at Albi in 1946 with a Maserati, several minor successes and a great drive in a Cisitalia in two Mille Miglias, his Cisitalia finishing 2nd in 1947. his health was failing and in 1953, at the age of 61, he passed away. All Italy mourned these two great drivers. Archaic Varzi unspectacular, Tazio Nuvolari just the opposite. How ironical that Varzi, who had never before had a serious crash, should die in the cockpit, while Nuvolari, who on at least two occasions rode and drove trussed-up in bandages as a result of hectic accidents, died in bed ! These two will never be forgotten where motor racing is discussed and to me the ” Mantovano-Volante ” remains the greatest racing driver the world has known.—W.B.