Ascari was seven when his father was killed in 1925. Such tragedy would put most off racing but it heightened his determination. Motor-cycles tuned his talent and Ascari scored a fine reputation on two wheels. In 1940 Enzo offered him a Mille Miglia drive in the new Type 815 and he led his class until valve failure.
In post-war years Ascari had little interest in sportscars and loathed the Mille Miglia so much he had the race excluded from his Lancia contract. But when Villoresi was injured. Ascari stood in to drive the D24 and won by over 26 minutes in foul conditions.
It was Villoresi who had encouraged the reluctant Ascari to return to racing after the war. After some success with Maseratis, Enzo signed him up. Before long his style was rivalled only by Fangio and the two greats enjoyed titanic battles. After Alfa Romeo retired, Ascari and his 2-litre Ferrari 500 demoralised everyone in 1952 and 1953. Nine grand prix wins on the trot even with the best car is an incredible statistic for any era, but it is the fact that for an entire year, starting in June ’52, he won every single points-scoring Grand Prix, which beggars belief.
“He was a man who had to lead from the start. In that position he was impossible to beat,” recalled Ferrari in Piloti, die Genti.
“He was the fastest driver I ever saw,” claimed Mike Hawthorn, “faster even than Fangio.” Italy has been waiting for his like ever since.