Nino Vaccarella

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Nino Vaccarella
Vaccarella in 1972
Born(1933-03-04)4 March 1933
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Died23 September 2021(2021-09-23) (aged 88)
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityItaly Italian
Active years1961-1962, 1965
TeamsFerrari, non-works De Tomaso, Lotus, Porsche
Entries5 (4 starts)
Career points0
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1961 Italian Grand Prix
Last entry1965 Italian Grand Prix
Vaccarella at 1970 1000km Nürburgring with Ferrari 512S.

Nino Vaccarella (4 March 1933 – 23 September 2021)[1] was an Italian sports car racing and Formula One driver.

His principal achievements include having won the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Targa Florio in 1965, 1971 and 1975, the latter year when it no longer was a World Sportscar Championship event.

Sports car career[edit]

Nino Vaccarella walks away from his damaged Ferrari 330 P3 during the 1967 Targa Florio
Vaccarella walks away from his damaged Ferrari 330 P3 during the 1967 Targa Florio

Sicily-born Vaccarella was well known for being a Targa Florio specialist. According to Vic Elford "he knew the roads on Sicily like the back of his hand". His first Targa was in 1959 in a privately entered Maserati, the car finished 10th. The following year he was teamed with Umberto Maglioli for the 1960 Targa Florio in a birdcage Maserati, which was owned by the Camoradi team. Maglioli had previously won the race twice; Vaccarella was a schoolteacher in Palermo with a great passion for motorsport. They took the lead in the early afternoon on 8 May and maintained it for three laps until the car broke down. The event was won by Joakim Bonnier and Hans Herrmann in a small silver Porsche.[2]

His participation in this race kickstarted Vaccarella's racing career. He finished 2nd at the 12 Hours of Sebring in the United States, but during the 1963 Nurburgring 1000km, during practice he crashed a brand-new works-entered Ferrari 250P, and broke his arm and was soaked in fuel. He came back to the race a year later to win it with Ludovico Scarfiotti, driving for the factory. He then found even greater success by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Jean Guichet, reaching the pinnacle of sports car racing.

Vaccarella was paired with Lorenzo Bandini in the 1965 Targa Florio when they won with an average speed of 63.7 miles per hour, finishing in 7 hours and 1 minute. 12.4 seconds.[3] In 1966 Vaccarella and Bandini led most of the race until their Ferrari 330 ran off the track after seven laps and was too damaged to continue.[4] While waving his hand to acknowledge the crowd, Vaccarella made eye contact with a retaining wall that carried the inscription Viva Nino.[5] Maglioli and Vaccarella drove a Ford GT-40 to fifth place in the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring.[6]

The 8 May 1968 edition of Giornale Di Sicilia proclaimed in its headline, Only Vaccarella Can Bring Off The Miracle. The meaning had to do with the Sicilian driver's great task of gaining victory in the Targa Florio in his 2.5-litre Alfa Romeo, called the Tipo 33. He was up against four German competitors who were driving Porsche 910 models. The Porsches had recently swept the endurance races at Daytona and Sebring. Few experts gave the four Alfa Romeos much of a chance against the flawless Porsches, but Sicilians were trusting the skill of Vaccarella's driving.[5] Vaccarella also found more success by winning the Mugello Grand Prix on a 38-mile street circuit similar to the Targa in July of that year. Vaccarella qualified eighth for the 1970 24 Hours of Daytona in a Ferrari 512S, and he won Sebring that year after Mario Andretti was put into Vaccarella and Ignazio Giunti's car and put in a stupendous drive to win. He also drove the big V12-powered Ferrari 512S in a heroic yet ultimately losing effort in 1970, damaging the car in the final stages. This was one of a series of 11 endurance events held in Europe and North America for the 1970 world manufacturers championship.[7]

Vaccarella and Toine Hezemans won the 1971 Targa Florio in an Alfa Romeo. They crossed the finish line over a minute ahead of Andrea de Adamich and Gijs van Lennep, who also drove an Alfa Romeo. This race ended the dominance of Porsche, which had finished first in the previous five Targa Florio races.[8] Vaccarella competed in the 1972 12 Hours of Sebring in one of four Alfa Romeo 33/3TT's to be entered in the event. His driving partner was Nanni Galli.[9] They qualified fifth after another Alfa Romeo of Rolf Stommelen and Peter Revson, who started third.[10]

Vaccarella would win the Targa Florio one more time, in 1975 driving an Alfa Romeo 33TT12- the Targa was no longer part of the World Championship but was an Italian national event. After this, Vaccarella retired from racing. His son Giovanni had been born in 1972 and he wanted to be alive to raise his son in this very dangerous era of motor racing. In a later interview, although he was known as a Targa Florio specialist Vaccarella admitted that he preferred fast circuits like Le Mans, Monza and Spa over slow circuits the Targa, Monaco and the Nürburgring. He also admitted in this interview that Le Mans was his favorite circuit.[11]

Formula One[edit]

Vacarella was selected for the 1962 Ferrari Formula One race team by Enzo Ferrari. He was joined by John Surtees, Mike Parkes, Willy Mairesse, Lorenzo Bandini, and Ludovico Scarfiotti. He participated in five World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 10 September 1961. He scored no championship points. He also participated in several non-Championship Formula One races.[12]

Racing record[edit]

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]


Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 WDC Points
1961 Scuderia Serenissima De Tomaso F1 Alfa Romeo
1962 Scuderia SSS Republica di Venezia Lotus 18/21 Climax Straight-4 NED MON
Porsche 718 Porsche Flat-4 GER
Lotus 24 Climax V8 ITA
1965 Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 158 Ferrari V8 RSA MON BEL FRA GBR NED GER ITA

Non-Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
1961 Scuderia Serenissima De Tomaso F1 Alfa Romeo L4 LOM GLV PAU BRX VIE AIN SYR NAP LON SIL SOL KAN DAN MOD
Cooper T51 Maserati L4 VAL
1962 Scuderia SSS Republica di Venezia Lotus 18/21 Climax L4 CAP BRX
Porsche 718 Porsche F4 SOL

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1961 Italy Scuderia Serenissima Italy Ludovico Scarfiotti Maserati Tipo 63 S 3.0 53 DNF
1962 Italy Scuderia SSS Republica di Venezia Italy Giorgio Scarlatti Ferrari 250 GTO GT 3.0 172 DNF
1964 Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC France Jean Guichet Ferrari 275 P P 5.0 349 1st 1st
1965 United States North American Racing Team Mexico Pedro Rodríguez Ferrari 365 P2 Spyder P 5.0 320 7th 1st
1966 Italy Scuderia San Marco
United States North American Racing Team
Italy Mario Casoni Dino 206 S P 2.0 7 DNF
(Water leak)
1967 Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC New Zealand Chris Amon Ferrari 330 P3 Spyder P 5.0 105 DNF
1968 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Giancarlo Baghetti Alfa Romeo T33/2 P 2.0 150 DNF
(Fuel pump)
1969 France Equipe Matra - Elf France Jean Guichet Matra-Simca MS630 P 3.0 359 5th 3rd
1970 Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC Italy Ignazio Giunti Ferrari 512 S S 5.0 7 DNF
1971 Spain Escuderia Montjuich Spain José Juncadella Ferrari 512 M S 5.0 186 DNF
1972 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Andrea de Adamich Alfa Romeo 33TT3 S 3.0 307 4th 4th

Complete 12 Hours of Sebring results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1962 Italy Scuderia SSS Republica di Venezia Italy Carlo Maria Abate Maserati Tipo 64 S3.0 16 DNF
(Shift linkage)
1963 Italy S.E.F.A.C. Ferrari Belgium Willy Mairesse
Italy Lorenzo Bandini
Ferrari 250 P P3.0 208 2nd 2nd
1964 Italy S.E.F.A.C. Ferrari Italy Ludovico Scarfiotti Ferrari 275 P P+3.0 213 2nd 2nd
1967 Italy Brescia Corse Team Italy Umberto Maglioli Ford GT40 S5.0 223 5th 1st
1969 Italy Autodelta, S.P.A. Belgium Lucien Bianchi Alfa Romeo T33/3 P3.0 17 DNF
1970 Italy Ferrari S.P.A., S.E.F.A.C. Italy Ignazio Giunti
United States Mario Andretti
Ferrari 512 S S5.0 248 1st 1st
1971 Italy Autodelta, S.P.A. Italy Andrea de Adamich
France Henri Pescarolo
Alfa Romeo T33/3 P3.0 248 3rd 2nd
Italy Autodelta, S.P.A. Netherlands Toine Hezemans Alfa Romeo T33/3 P3.0 27 DNF
(Fuel system)
1972 Italy Autodelta, S.P.A. Netherlands Toine Hezemans Alfa Romeo T33/3 S3.0 233 3rd 3rd

Complete 24 Hours of Daytona results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1968 Italy Autodelta, S.P.A. Germany Udo Schütz Alfa Romeo T33/2 P 617 5th 4th
1970 Italy Ferrari S.P.A. Italy Ignazio Giunti Ferrari 512 S S 89 DNF


  1. ^ "Auto: è morto Ninni Vaccarella, vinse tre volte Targa Florio". Ansa. 23 September 2021.
  2. ^ Bonnier and Herrman Capture 450-Mile Targa Florio in 7:33:8, New York Times, 9 May 1960, Page 37.
  3. ^ 100,000 In Sicily See Famed Event, New York Times, 10 May 1965, Page 46
  4. ^ Mairesse First In Targa Florio, New York Times, 9 May 1966, Page 74
  5. ^ a b Vaccarella Will Carry Hopes Of Sicilian Auto Fans Today, New York Times, 5 May 1968, Page S27.
  6. ^ Ford's No. 2 Car Is Given 2nd Place, New York Times, 3 April 1967, Page 44
  7. ^ Porsches Capture Next Three Spots, New York Times, 31 January 1970, Page 40
  8. ^ Italian Driver Is Killed in Race Won by Vaccarella-Hezemans, New York Times, 17 May 1971, Page 49
  9. ^ Three Ferrari Teams to Seek Endurance Honors at Sebring, New York Times, 19 March 1972, Page S15.
  10. ^ Andretti Captures Pole at Sebring With Lap Record, New York Times, 25 March 1972, Page 24.
  11. ^ "NINO VACCARELLA - Il Preside Volante the Flying School Principal". YouTube.
  12. ^ Ferrari Team Named, New York Times, 2 December 1962, Page 253.
Sporting positions
Preceded by Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
With: Jean Guichet
Succeeded by