Former Alfa Romeo works driver Teodoro “Dorino” Zeccoli, “The Arrow from Lugo,” passed away March 6 at the age of 88. As a racecar and test driver for Autodelta, Zecolli (above, photo courtesy of Museo Alfa Romeo) was part of Alfa Romeo racing from the GTA through the Tipo 33. He developed those cars and often led them to victory.
Autodelta was the racing branch of Alfa Romeo, with Carlo Chiti at the helm, and Zeccoli his trusted testing and development driver. Zeccoli was, of course, from the old school of Italian testers who knew every inch, motion and sound of the vehicle, making adjustments based on acquired knowledge and sensory input instead of instruments. Zeccoli had previously been the chief test driver and racing pilot for Carlo Abarth, and at ATS for Chiti. When Chiti became the head of Autodelta, he brought Zeccoli aboard to develop the TZ-1 and TZ-2, followed by the World Championship Tipo 33.
Vladmir Pajevic wrote to Rob Little (both formerly of Autodelta), that Zeccoli had been “born with an extremely rare talent and ability to listen and communicate with engines.” Pajevic also relates how “As a racer, he was second to no one, and only his respect for mechanical devices interfered sometimes, preventing him from asking more than possible from the engine.
“I remember him standing joyless in his underwear … in a sand bank … beside his derailed off-track TZ during the 1965 Le Mans race. He sacrificed his driving overalls and placed them under the rear wheels of his TZ in a desperate effort to return to the track.
“That was true Teo Zeccoli, and that is why in every racing Alfa Romeo car, where Teo’s touch left his Indelible imprint during hours and hours of testing, every victory owes some debt to his big heart.”
To his family and friends, Vintage Racecar extends its deepest sympathies.