Eugenio Castellotti

Born:
10th October 1930
Lodi, Lombardy
Died:
14th March 1957 (Aged 26)
Modena, Emilia-Romagna, testing
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Raised in a humble family in the town of Lodi to the southeast of Milan, Eugenio Castellotti was a talented but wild driver. Always well turned out and instantly recognisable for his bright yellow shirt, he and the more affluent Luigi Musso were expected to fill the void left after the death of Alberto Ascari. From very different backgrounds and with the hopes of a nation on their shoulders, these feuding team-mates were not around long enough to claim that place as Ascari’s heir.

Early racing career

Two years after racing for the first time with a Ferrari, Castellotti first attracted attention in 1952 when driving a Scuderia Guastalla Ferrari. A class winner in that year’s Giro di Sicilia and second in the Monaco Grand Prix (a sports car race for the only time), he won at Porto and Syracuse to alert more than just the specialist press. He signed for the new Lancia sports car team in 1953 as the youngster in a team of veterans.

Formula 1 with Lancia and Ferrari

Italian sports car hillclimb champion for the next two years, he finished third in the 1953 Carrera Panamericana and 1954 Tourist Trophy. It was no surprise therefore that Castellotti was included in Lancia’s 1955 Formula 1 team. However, his was not an auspicious debut for Castellotti crashed in Argentina when apparently suffering from sun stroke in the extreme heat. Second in the non-championship Pau GP, he repeated that result at Monaco and qualified on pole position at Spa-Francorchamps.

However, Lancia soon withdrew from racing after Ascari’s death and its machinery and drivers were transferred to Ferrari. His Ferrari 555 Supersqualo was third in the Italian GP at Monza as the Italian clinched a distant but noteworthy third position in that year’s F1 World Championship.

Rivalry with Luigi Musso

Castellotti’s greatest victory was in the 1956 Mille Miglia when he showed "indomitable courage in appalling weather" to ensure instant fame and popularity in his home country. He won at Sebring and finished second in the Nürburgring 1000Kms but the year was marked by a worsening relationship with Ferrari and particularly with Musso.

Second in the French GP, Castellotti all too frequently overdrove in GPs and he was often forced to retire. That included a high speed puncture while on the banking at Monza during a battle for the lead with Musso. That tyre failure owed more to their rivalry than to common sense or mechanical sympathy.

A star nonetheless, Castellotti was romantically attached to opera singer Delia Scala by the start of 1957. That motor racing season began in Argentina and in typical Castellotti style – retiring from the GP but winner of the Buenos Aires 1000Kms.

But he was then recalled from a subsequent holiday to test a new F1 Ferrari at Modena which he rolled into a grandstand. He was thrown clear but his helpless body struck a concrete post and Castellotti suffered severe head injuries from which he was pronounced dead on arrival at the local hospital.