Tazio Nuvolari, undoubtedly one of the five top race car drivers of all time, died of tuberculosis in his own bed in the early hours of August 11, 1953, almost half a century ago. Later this year, the driver’s hometown of Mantua in the humid Italian north will hold a series of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their local hero’s death. Cesare De Agostini, one of Italy’s most stylish authors, has written a new book on the great Tazio. A TV documentary is being shot on his life, and an exhibition will even be held in Tokyo on the life of the Flying Mantuan.
So why did the temple of Italian motorsport, the Monza circuit, where Nuvolari scored so many of his famous victories, steadfastly refuse to honor Tazio by naming a corner, a road or even a stand after the country’s greatest motor racing hero? Many irate Italians have demanded the answer to that question.
It appears the architect responsible for last year’s major refurbishing of the Monza circuit, Giuseppe Bacciagaluppi, “did not want” to name any of the circuit’s new facilities after the driver – and that caused an uproar. “Who does Bacciagaluppi think he is,” asked the collective voice of the nation’s legion of Nuvolari fans; many of whom actually saw their hero race and are proud of it.
Monza’s director, Enrico Ferrari, was bombarded with e-mails, letters and phone calls of protest, claiming it is not an architect’s place to make such a deci- sion. Letters were written to the press insisting that the great Italian hero be significantly honoured at Monza. Many of the angry letters recalled Nuvolari’s 66 racecar victories including 16 Grands Prix, 2 Mille Miglias, 2 Targa Florios, 2 Tourist Trophies, the Vanderbilt Cup and his 50 fastest laps. Fortunately, within days of this violent public flare-up, the president of the Auto Club of Milan, Ludovico Grandi, announced that Monza’s pit lane would be named after Nuvolari. A ceremony to do so will be held at the track during the InterEuropa Cup weekend from May 23-25. Most pro- testers seem to be satisfied with Grandi’s announcement although there is still an outspoken minority who want the whole circuit named after the Flying Mantuan.