Achille Varzi

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This article is on the Italian racecar driver. For the Columbia University philosopher see Achille Varzi (philosopher).
Achille Varzi
Achille Varzi.JPG
Born (1904-08-08)8 August 1904
Galliate, Italy
Died 1 July 1948(1948-07-01) (aged 43)
Bremgarten, Switzerland
Occupation Racing driver
Alfa Romeo team drivers, Achille Varzi (3rd sitting from left)

Achille Varzi (8 August 1904 – 1 July 1948) was an Italian Grand Prix driver.

Career[edit]

Born in Galliate, province of Novara (Piedmont), Achille Varzi was the son of a prosperous textile manufacturer. As a young man, he was a successful motorcycle racer of Garelli, DOT, Moto Guzzi and Sunbeam, and rode seven times in the Isle of Man TT from 1924 before switching to auto racing in 1928 where, for the next ten years he would rival the great Tazio Nuvolari.

Varzi's first race car was a Type 35 Bugatti but he shortly changed to driving an Alfa Romeo, a brand with which he would score a great many victories during the 1929 Italian racing season. In 1930 Varzi acquired a vehicle from the relatively new Maserati company. He drove it as well as an Alfa Romeo earning his country's racing championship, a feat he would repeat in 1934. One of his big victories came at the prestigious Targa Florio where he upset the favored Louis Chiron. Following his win at the 1933 Tripoli Grand Prix, Varzi was at the forefront of allegations that the race had been fixed.

Varzi won 6 Grand Prix in 1934 driving the Alfa Romeo P3, at Alessandria, Tripoli, Targa Florio, Penya Rhin at Barcelona, Coppa Ciano and Nice. He also became the first driver in history to hold both the Targa Florio and Mille Miglia title in one season[1]

With Alfa Romeo he had worked under the management of Enzo Ferrari, but Varzi decided to join the Auto Union team, racing for them between 1935 and 1937. A lover of the good life, Varzi began having serious personal problems, including an addiction to morphine and a difficult affair with Ilse Pietsch (Engel/Hubitsch[1]/Feininger), the wife of a fellow driver Paul Pietsch. Quickly overshadowed by team-mate Bernd Rosemeyer, his trips to the winners circle dropped to only four, but he did win his third Tripoli Grand Prix in his third different vehicle. By 1938 he had dropped out of sight and the advent of World War II ended racing in Europe. During the war, Varzi overcame his drug addiction and settled down with his new wife, Norma Colombo. At the end of the War, Varzi made a remarkable comeback at the age of 42. In 1946 he attempted to race a Maserati for the Indianapolis 500 but failed to qualify.[2] In 1947, he won three minor Grand Prix races and traveled to Argentina to race in the Buenos Aires Grand Prix.

Death[edit]

During practise runs for the 1948 Swiss Grand Prix a light rain fell on the Bremgarten track. His Alfa Romeo 158 skidded on the wet surface, flipping over and crushing him to death. He was buried in his hometown.

Achievements[edit]

In 1991, author Giorgio Terruzzi recounted Varzi's story in a book titled Una curva cieca - Vita di Achille Varzi. During his career, Achille Varzi competed in 139 races, winning 33. Some of his major victories include:

Legacy[edit]

Varzi's death resulted in the FIA mandating the wearing of crash helmets for racing, which had been optional previously.[3] A Formula One team entered some races in 1950 as Scuderia Achille Varzi. The team was equipped with Maseratis 4CL and 4CLT and featured drivers José Froilán González, Antonio Branca, Alfredo Pián and Nello Pagani.[4]

On 5 June 2004 Poste Italiane issued a stamp commemorating Achille Varzi.[5]

His relative and namesake, Achille C. Varzi, is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University.

Complete European Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Entrant Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 EDC Points
1931 Usines Bugatti Bugatti ITA
Ret
FRA
1
BEL
Ret
4= 12
1932 Ettore Bugatti Bugatti ITA
Ret
FRA
Ret
GER
16= 21
1933 Ettore Bugatti Bugatti MON
1
FRA
BEL
2
ITA
Ret
ESP
4
1934 Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo MON
6
FRA
2
BEL
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
ESP
5
1935 Auto Union Auto Union BEL
GER
8
SUI
4
ITA
Ret
ESP
Ret
8 27
1936 Auto Union Auto Union MON
2
GER
SUI
2
ITA
Ret
4 19
1937 Auto Union Auto Union BEL
GER
MON
SUI
ITA
6
20= 36

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Martini, Sandro. Tracks: Racing the Sun. London: Aurora Metro Publications. ISBN 1906582432. 
  2. ^ Acchille Varzi, Champ Car Stats, retrieved 2010-12-24
  3. ^ Plumb, Philip W. The Clipper Book of Motor Racing Facts. London: Clipper Press. p. 42. ISBN 0-85108-008-1. 
  4. ^ "Scuderia Achille Varzi - ChicaneF1.com". Chicanef1.dyndns.org. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  5. ^ "Archivio emissioni, Achille Varzi". Retrieved 2009-05-09. 

External links[edit]