His name might be familiar to some racing fans but his exploits and bravery are probably not. In a career that spanned 26 years he won 24 Grand Prix, the famous Mille Miglia twice, the classic Targa Florio twice and won the Le Mans 24 Hours plus he was European Champion (the equivalent of today’s F1 Championship). Ferdinand Porsche described him as ‘…the greatest driver of the past, the present, and the future.’ He is also a personal hero of mine.
Tazio Nuvolari – the ‘Little Devil’ was just 5 foot 6 and unique and tough as old nails. Here was a driver who truly did not know fear. His career began on bikes and he even won the 1925 European 2-wheel Championship. His 2 wheel history was not without the occasional major shunt and heroic recovery. In the year he won the championship he crashed an Alfa Romeo GP car in the Monza Grand Prix – badly. Ordered to stay in bed for a month (minimum) he was carried from the hospital on day 4 wrapped in bandages and unable to walk. He persuaded a doctor to rewrap his body in new bandages – strait jacket style in the same racing position he would use on a bike. Loaded into a car and taken back to Monza for the Motorcycle GP he was carried to the racing Bianchi machine and lowered onto the seat. 200 miles later he crossed the line as the winner.
In 1927 he crashed badly in the Stuttgart GP and the press announced his death. 72 hours later in plaster and bandages he was training it back to Italy. That same year he crashed again but this time at Verona and using his now traditional mummy style bandage wrap he was carried to his bike and naturally won the race. (More to come in next posting)