Coppa Acerbo

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Coppa Acerbo / Circuito di Pescara
Pescara Circuit
Circuit Pescara.svg
Race information
Laps 18
Circuit length 25.579 km (15.894 mi)
Race length 460.422 km (286.093 mi)
Most wins (drivers) Italy Giuseppe Campari (3)
Most wins (constructors) Italy Alfa Romeo (10)
Last race (1957)
Pole position
Podium
Fastest lap

The Coppa Acerbo was an automobile race held in Italy, named after Tito Acerbo, the brother of Giacomo Acerbo, a prominent fascist politician. Following Italy's defeat in World War II, and the consequent demise of fascism, the race was renamed the Circuito di Pescara, and in some years was also referred to as the Pescara Grand Prix (Gran Premio di Pescara). The race was run between 1924 and 1961 and over the years was held to a variety of vehicle class regulations and durations. In 1957 the Pescara Grand Prix formed a round of the Formula One World Championship, a race which still holds the record as having the longest circuit length ever used for a Championship event.

Pescara Circuit[edit]

Main article: Pescara Circuit

The Coppa Acerbo races were held over a 24–26 km (15–16 mi) circuit, beginning and ending at Pescara, on the Adriatic coast. The course layout featured an inland route through the Abruzzo hills, that passed through several villages, followed by a long, straight descent back to the coast, where a tight right-hand corner led on to a four mile (6 km) long straight running next to the sea. The pit and paddock complex was located at the end of this straight. In an effort to slow competitor speeds past these pits the Pescara circuit became one of the first to have an artificial chicane installed, just before the pit lane. The Pescara circuit layout holds the record as the longest circuit to ever to host a Formula One World Championship event, with the Nürburgring Nordschleife coming second at about 23 km.

Pre-war races[edit]

A sculpture, placed between the villages of Cappelle sul Tavo and Spoltore at the highest point on the Pescara Circuit, commemorating the pre-war Coppa Acerbo racers.

The first Coppa Acerbo was staged in 1924 and was won by a then-unknown junior driver by the name of Enzo Ferrari, later to find fame as the creator of Ferrari and head of the Formula One team Scuderia Ferrari. The race was run for the top class of international competition, the only real limiting factor on vehicle specifications being the cars' ability to transmit power through the inadequate tyres of the day. Although never itself a Grande Epreuve, or later a constituent of the European Championship, the Coppa Acerbo was considered one of the most prestigious races of its day. These early races were dominated by home-grown cars and drivers, and Alfa Romeo in particular was almost unbeatable. The Milanese manufacturer won seven of the first nine races; only in 1926 were they beaten by the legendary Bugatti T35, and again in 1930 by Italian star-driver Achille Varzi driving a Maserati.

Alfa's domination of the race came to an end with the introduction of the 750 kg Grand Prix regulations in 1934, a race that was also marked by tragedy when Guy Moll, one of the most promising young drivers of the day, was killed. Germany's state-funded Silver Arrows of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union would come to eclipse all their rivals for the subsequent five years. Although the race was again won by two Italian drivers during this time, including a second victory for Varzi, it was only when the organisers decided to run the Coppa to the 1.5 litre voiturette formula in 1939 that any other manufacturer could stand a realistic chance of winning. Perhaps fittingly it was Alfa Romeo, with their new 158 Alfetta car, that took the honours in this last competition before the outbreak of World War II.

Post-war races[edit]

After WWII the race remained suspended for a year during post-war rebuilding. When it was finally run again in 1947 the name of the race was changed, because of its fascist connections, and it became known as the Circuito di Pescara. For the first three years the race was run for two-seater sports cars and was a fairly minor constituent in the European racing calendar. However, in common with many race orgaisers around the continent, with the introduction of the Formula One World Championship in 1950 the race organisers saw their chance to return the Pescara event to its former position of prominence. Although, once again, not a World Championship event the race did attract many top-name teams and drivers over the following two years. Despite it being an Italian event, and himself a former winner, Ferrari decided to withdraw his team from the 1950 event, but the Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Talbot-Lago works teams did attend, along with many privateer and amateur racers. The 1950 race was won by future World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio driving for Alfa Romeo. The following year Ferrari did attend, and the race was won by Fangio's Argentinian compatriot José Froilán González driving one of their 375 cars.

When the World Championship switched to the slower Formula Two regulations, the organisers decided to abandon formula racing in favour of further sportscar events. During this period endurance sportscar racing was almost as prestigious as the top open-wheel series, and for 1952 the organisers changed the race's name, once again, to the 12 Ore di Pescara (12 Hours of Pescara). The change of format did not hinder Ferrari's chances of victory, however, and their cars and drivers took wins in both 1952 and 1953. Despite the success of the endurance format, though, when the Formula One engine capacity limit was raised to 2.5 litres from 1954 the Circuito di Pescara was quickly switched back to single-seat rules. The 1954 event was won by one of the most iconic Formula One cars of all time, a Maserati 250F, driven by Luigi Musso. This was to be the last race for two years, as in 1955, as a result of the disaster at the 24 hours of Le Mans, the race was cancelled.

Sportscars returned once more in 1956. The 1957 Pescara Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race, held on 18 August 1957, at the Pescara Circuit. The race was the seventh, and penultimate round of the 1957 World Drivers' Championship. The race, which was the only Formula One World Championship race at the track, is best remembered for being held at the longest ever circuit to stage a Formula One World Championship Grand Prix. It was also the first of the two consecutive Italian races, and after the subsequent race at Monza was complete, it became the first time that two Formula One races had been held in the same country in the same year. In a field dominated by numerous Maserati 250F cars, reigning World Champion Fangio used his example to set a pole position time of 9 minutes 44.6 seconds, at an average speed of over 157 km/h (98 mph). In the race, however, it was second-placed starter Stirling Moss in his Vanwall who took the initiative and victory. He led all but one of the race's 18 laps and finished over three minutes clear of Fangio in second place.

By the early 1960s, safety issues had become a major concern and the Pescara racecourse was seen as too dangerous for major international events. After a two year break the race was downgraded to Formula Two status for 1960, a race won by future World Champion Denny Hulme in his first year racing in Europe. For its 1961 swansong once again, for only the second time in its history, the Pescara race was raised to World Championship status, this time in the World Sportscar Championship. Appropriately, for a race subtitled the 4h Testa Rosa, the final Gran Premio di Pescara was won by a Ferrari Testa Rossa, driven by Lorenzo Bandini and Giorgio Scarlatti and entered by Scuderia Centro Sud; an Italian team, with an Italian car and two Italian drivers, won the final iteration of this famous Italian event. With ever-increasing speeds and the fragile build-quality of most cars of the time, the race was discontinued after the 1961 event.

Race winners[edit]

Bernd Rosemeyer, Luigi Fagioli, and Achille Varzi all won the race twice but Giuseppe Campari is the only driver to win it on three occasions.

Year Driver/s Class Vehicle Race title
1961 Italy Lorenzo Bandini
Italy Giorgio Scarlatti
Sports car Ferrari 250TRI 1961 4h Testa Rosa
1960 New Zealand Denny Hulme Formula Two Cooper T52 - BMC XXVI Gran Premio di Pescara
1958-
1959
Not held.
1957 United Kingdom Stirling Moss Formula One Vanwall VW5 XXV Circuito di Pescara
1956 France Robert Manzon Sports car Gordini T15S XXIV Gran Premio di Pescara
1955 Not held.
1954 Italy Luigi Musso Formula One/Two Maserati 250F XXIII Gran Premio di Pescara
1953 Italy Umberto Maglioli
United Kingdom Mike Hawthorn
Sports car Ferrari 375MM 2° 12 Ore di Pescara
1952 Italy Giovanni Bracco
Italy Paolo Marzotto
Sports car Ferrari 250S 1° 12 Ore di Pescara
1951 Argentina José Froilán González Formula One Ferrari 375 XX Circuito di Pescara
1950 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio Formula One Alfa Romeo 158 XIX Circuito di Pescara
1949 Italy Franco Rol Sports car Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS XVIII Circuito di Pescara
1948 Italy Giovanni Bracco Sports car Maserati A6GCS XVII Circuito di Pescara
1947 Italy Vincenzo Auricchio Sports car Stanguellini-Fiat 1100 XVI Circuito di Pescara
1940-
1946
Not held.
1939 Italy Clemente Biondetti Voiturette Alfa Romeo 158 XV Coppa Acerbo
1938 Nazi Germany Rudolf Caracciola Grand Prix Mercedes-Benz W154 XIV Coppa Acerbo
1937 Nazi Germany Bernd Rosemeyer Grand Prix Auto Union C Typ. XIII Coppa Acerbo
1936 Nazi Germany Bernd Rosemeyer Grand Prix Auto Union C Typ. XII Coppa Acerbo
1935 Italy Achille Varzi Grand Prix Auto Union B Typ. XI Coppa Acerbo
1934 Italy Luigi Fagioli Grand Prix Mercedes-Benz W25 X Coppa Acerbo
1933 Italy Luigi Fagioli Grand Prix Alfa Romeo Tipo-B 'P3' IX Coppa Acerbo
1932 Italy Tazio Nuvolari Grand Prix Alfa Romeo Tipo-B 'P3' VIII Coppa Acerbo
1931 Italy Giuseppe Campari Grand Prix Alfa Romeo Tipo A VII Coppa Acerbo
1930 Italy Achille Varzi Grand Prix Maserati 26M VI Coppa Acerbo
1929 Italy Giuseppe Campari Grand Prix Alfa Romeo P2 V Coppa Acerbo
1928 Not held.
1927 Italy Giuseppe Campari Grand Prix Alfa Romeo P2 IV Coppa Acerbo
1926 Italy Luigi Spinozzi Grand Prix Bugatti T35 III Coppa Acerbo
1925 Italy Guido Ginaldi Grand Prix Alfa Romeo RL II Coppa Acerbo
1924 Italy Enzo Ferrari Grand Prix Alfa Romeo RL I Coppa Acerbo

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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