56 – 1936 Coppa Ciano


A series taken from the 162-page Motor Sport special 100 Greatest Grands Prix (other specials are available here).

Early in 1936 the Silver Arrows battle seemed to have gone Auto Union’s way, with the inexperienced but spectacular Bernd Rosemeyer winning the European Championship and plenty of races in between. 

Grids began to dwindle as Mercedes withdrew its entries, but Alfa Romeo was still out in force with Nuvolari leading the way.

The Coppa Ciano was held in Livorno for the first time in ’36 and Nuvolari sat in the middle of the front row in between the Auto Unions of Varzi and Rosemeyer. At the start the two German machines took the lead with the third car of Stuck following through; Nuvolari suffered a broken rear axle and returned to the pits in a rage.

The tiny Italian tore through the Scuderia Ferrari pits demanding a replacement car, threatening to leave the team if not given one. After three laps Carlo Pintacuda was called in and Nuvolari roared out of the pits in his team-mate’s less powerful car to begin one of his greatest charges.

Rosemeyer retired after six laps, apparently so nervous about his new wife’s trans-continental flight he couldn’t concentrate. As drivers swapped and cars failed Nuvolari pushed his Alfa as far as it could go, first unlapping himself, then moving into second place behind arch-rival Varzi.

When Varzi’s brakes started to wilt Nuvolari took the lead and kept on pushing. By the end it was a Ferrari-Alfa 1-2-3 with Stuck the only AU driver left, three minutes adrift after jumping in Rosemeyer’s car. Nuvolari’s legend was built on races such as these. ACH

About 100 Greatest Grands Prix | From the editor Damien Smith
The Grand Prix motor races we can never forget…

This was a special one-off magazine, dedicated to our love of Grand Prix racing and produced by the same team that brings you Motor Sport each month.

It seemed a good idea: whittle down 107 years of racing history to come up with 100 GPs that could be considered the ‘greatest’ – then rank them in meritocratic order. By week three, the old grey matter was beginning to ache…

Defining greatness was the first task. There were the obvious races – the wheel-to-wheel duels, the comeback classics. But there were also individual performances of supreme dominance, races that might not necessarily have been the most exciting to witness. Greatness goes way beyond thrill-a-minute, we decided.

Choosing which races should make the list was hard enough; ranking the top 100 in some sort of order was even tougher, especially when it came to the crunch: which should be number one? We never did agree unanimously on the ‘greatest’, but if the magazine was to be finished a decision had to be taken. And that’s what I’m here for!

Will you agree with our choice and order? Probably not. But if steam begins to issue from your ears, take a deep breath. In any exercise such as this, there is no definitive list – because there can’t be. Our top 100 is based on opinion, nothing more, designed to be a bit of fun and to spark good-natured debate among fans of the world’s greatest sport.

You can download 100 Greatest Grands Prix in PDF form in the Motor Sport app.

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