Doug Nye: Italy's attempt to keep racing in the ghastly circumstances of 1940

“In 1940, motor sport was out of the question, unless you were Italian”. Four months into the Second World War, motor racing continued in Italy with a truncated Mille Miglia course; Tripoli Grand Prix and Targa Florio

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Future enthusiasts will surely recall 2020 as having been a truncated racing season, yet one still jam-packed considering the Covid pandemic, lockdown, world economies tanking, and all the recent – bleeagh… In fact the milestone calendar years – each decade’s ‘noughty’, such as 1900, 1910, 1920 or 1930 – have often featured motor sport surviving adversity.

However, none of these punctuated or restricted seasons has ever been run in quite such ghastly circumstances as that of 1940. When the year began, Europe was already four months into the Second World War, with Great Britain and France locked in a renewed conflict with Germany. Any form of serious motor sport was out of the question, unless – of the leading nations – one was Italian…

Fascist Italy had – just like the Third Reich in Germany – projected national prestige through international motor racing. Alfa Romeos campaigned for years by the Scuderia Ferrari and, since the start of 1938, by the replacement new Alfa Corse in-house factory team, had earned much credit in Grand Prix, subsidiary-class vetturetta and sports car racing. The Maserati marque had weighed-in with its own share of success – especially at vetturetta (effectively Formula 2) level. But then on September 3, 1939, what would become global conflict had erupted. Mussolini’s supposed pact of steel with Hitler’s Germany immediately appeared somewhat more flexible than its most committed supporters might have imagined, as the Italian state wavered over what might really transpire before committing arms to either side – or declaring neutrality. Such a big decision; back a winner or back the losers became Rome’s problem…