Just in case you might be wondering, the reason why so many of these early post-war races happened to be run upon such town-centre circuits is easily explained. National road systems were still so badly disrupted by wartime damage – involving in many cases total obliteration – that race organisers had no confidence in their events’ abilities to attract paying spectators in sufficient numbers unless they were run in city suburbs or town centres, adequately served by revived public transport. Essentially, less than two full years after the end of World War 2, many extensive tracts of Italian territory were still cratered moonscapes, not long-since stopped smoking. Where re-emergent motorsport was concerned, it was all a case of sport for sport’s sake – and ticket-sales cash for our motor club’s sake.
Ferrari’s new little 2-litre screamer with primitively-fashioned wheel-enclosing box bodywork (known by the works as the Spyder) was accompanied at Piacenza – between Milan and Bologna – by a second car, a cycle-mudguard narrow-fuselage car known by the factory as the Competizione. These brand-new V12s were to be driven not only by pre-war Tuscan veteran Franco Cortese, but also by guest star driver ‘Nino’ Farina.
The little Prancing Horse team from Maranello was being managed by Maestro Nello Ugolini – the urbane, cultured and worldly-wise manager of the Scuderia Ferrari pre-war – with technical supervision provided by another pre-war veteran Luigi Bazzi, whose own experience extended back to the early days of Alfa Romeo and the Fiat Grand Prix team before that.
In recent months I have been working with Ferrari collector Ronald Stern and his collection manager – marque authority Nathan Beehl – to produce a book on that first racing season for the new Ferrari marque. After each race in which the works-entered cars competed, the team manager produced an internal report, which would then be bound into a ‘Libro di Corse’ volume covering all racing activity, at the end of the year. I have happy memories of one late night at Fiorano when Harvey Postlethwaite, then chief engineer (chassis) effectively smuggled me in for a look around the race ’shop (on promise of losing my vitals if I blabbed about what I had seen– so I didn’t).