One of the more colourful figures in the F1 design world in the ’60s, Carlo Chiti succumbed to a heart attack recently.
The familiar figure – stout and usually clad in a fawn raincoat – seemed to have been on the scene for decades, and unsurprisingly he made his name with Ferrari. When Mike Hawthorn won his World Championship with the Ferrari Dino back in 1958, it was Chiti who ran the design office. He stayed there through the gestation of the beautiful sharknose Ferrari with which Phil Hill won the 1961 Championship, but quit at the end of that acrimonious season in the Great Walkout when many of the Scuderia’s key design technicians moved across to the ill-starred ATS project, which would prove such a lamentable failure. Hill struggled with it, and so did Giancarlo Baghetti and Mario Cabral, but even though a much tidied version duly appeared for 1964 the whole venture had lost whatever limited momentum it initially possessed.
The following year Chiti went back to Alfa Romeo, the company with which he had begun his career after leaving Pisa University with a degree in aeronautical engineering. There he founded Autodelta, the racing offshoot of the Milanese company. Though the ATS engine had been a failure, he produced the two-litre Alfa V8 sportscar unit, which was later enlarged to three litres, and then the flat 12 and subsequently V12 units which powered the Brabham BT45, BT46 and BT48s and then Alfa Romeo’s own F1 cars. In his later years he updated the flat-12 engine when he founded Motori Moderni, and at one time it was shown at Monza as a possible power unit for Minardi. Subsequently it found its way into the back of the Coloni under Subaru’s patronage, but it was never a success.
Outside Italy Chiti was little known, for he was not the type to seek publicity for himself. Most times he was a gentle, shambling figure who watched engineering developments in the pit lane with sleepy eyes that betrayed his hawklike perspicacity. Those who knew him well spoke fondly of a warm-hearted individual who loved engineering for engineering’s sake, and was a passionate animal lover too. D.J.T.
• We were sorry to learn of the recent death of MGB racing stalwart Bill Nicholson, who has succumbed to cancer at the age of 75. A former motorcycle competitor. Nicholson switched to cars in the early 1960s. His wife Ros bought him an MGB in 1963, and he subsequently raced the same car 286 FAC for many years. Its last outing was at Silverstone in 1990; together, the partnership won 251 events. We extend our sympathies to Ros, and their daughter Lorraine.
• Bob Howlings, an enthusiastic competitor and racing car dealer for many years, has passed away, aged 57. He raced many different cars during the 1960s and 1970s, occasionally appearing at the wheel of an F2 Chevron in the Group 8 series that was nominally Britain’s mainstream single-seater series of the time. In addition to his own stints at the wheel, he also helped others, his AMCO Motorsport team aiding Jim Crawford’s British F1 programme in the early 1980s. Bob had emigrated to Florida, but was in his native UK when he suffered a stroke. He is survived by two sons from a previous marriage, Steven and Jason. To them, girlfriend Barbara and his many friends in the sport, we offer our sincere condolences.