Incredibly, the magazine continued to be published during WWII. It then celebrated a new era of motor racing almost as soon as peace broke out.
Driver: Alberto Ascari
Jenks on Ascari’s starts
If one is bold enough to say that Alberto Ascari is today the world’s greatest racing driver, and I for one say so with no hesitation, there will be the inevitable cries from the opposition of “Why?” Winning races is not the main reason, for luck comes into it a great deal, as shown at Naples when his accelerator pedal came adrift while nearly half a lap ahead of the rest of the field, but judgement is one of the primary reasons.
A prime example of Ascari’s superb judgement was to be seen at the start of the Naples Grand Prix, which was on a slight uphill gradient so that the drivers had to hold their cars on the handbrake while the flag was raised. On that grid there were Farina, Ascari and Fangio on the front row, with González and Villoresi behind. When the flag fell the first three moved forward for about two lengths absolutely in line, and then Ascari went ahead, followed by Fangio, Farina, Villoresi and González, the last nearly stalling. When they had disappeared, in that order, they had all left their signatures on the grid in the form of wheelspin marks. All, that is, except for Ascari.
Fangio’s progress was marked by very black and consistent lines left by the spinning rear wheels, for something like 30 yards. Farina spun his wheels too much after the initial movement and the car hung momentarily, and then he left uneven black lines for about 20 yards, indicating a ‘floating foot’. Villoresi left determined black marks as far as Fangio, but not so black. González muffed his getaway completely, leaving no lines at all and having no speed. Of Ascari there was not a single trace of a wheelspin mark.
This was not exceptional, for how many times have we seen Ascari go straight into the lead from the fall of the flag? And the fact that he was in the lead at the first corner was sufficient proof of his ability. — DSJ
Jenks in tribute to Ascari
Ascari lost his life driving a sports Ferrari while practising at Monza — only four days after his lucky escape from drowning when his Lancia plunged into the harbour at Monte Carlo. There are people who say that he was not fully recovered from that incident and should not have been driving the Ferrari, but whether that is true or not will never be known.
The motor racing world has lost one of its very finest drivers, and no matter what the cause, he cannot be replaced. Only 36 years old, Ascari was at the top of the grand prix field and only equalled by Fangio, though few people cared to state any difference between the two.
Having devoted his life to leading the new Lancia grand prix team, it is all the more tragic that he should have been killed in a sports Ferrari. If Ascari is not remembered as the greatest driver of the post-war era, he will certainly remain the greatest Italian driver of this age. — DSJ