Morning Qualifying – History Lesson, Part V

The winning BMW 328 during the truncated Mille Miglia of 1940, one of the last races held in Europe after the war began.

With the advent of the Second World War, all racing in Europe, except the 1940 Mille Miglia and Tripoli Grand Prix, ceased by spring of that year, as hostilities heated up between the Allies and Axis powers.  By year’s end, auto racing ceased worldwide.  Once the geopolitical dust had settled, fans starved for racing were ready to watch anything that went fast.  Good thing too, because 6 years of war had greatly reduced the available stock of race cars.
Tazio Nuvolari leads Raymond Sommer in the 1946 Marseille Grand Prix.

An all pre-war Maserati front row at the 1946 Nice Grand Prix.

While functioning race cars, tires and fuel were in short supply, the driver pool was deep and talented, if a bit rusty.  Jean Pierre Wimille, Achille Varzi, Tazio Nuvolari, Raymond Sommer, Luigi Villoresi and Louis Chiron all returned to action.  Alfa Romeo disinterred it’s unused pre-war Grand Prix design, the 158, from behind a false brick wall at their Portello plant and mopped the floor with the competition.  Out of the ashes of war, the FIA was founded to oversee motor sport.  New race car constructors like Cooper and Ferrari emerged…and new drivers too like Alberto Ascari, and a 19 year old terrorizing British club racing, Stirling Moss.  You’ll see them all, and much more, in today’s installment of the Shell Films documentary, The History of Motor Racing.



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  1. FatsLux Avatar

    Great post. Although I wasn't aware that Tripoli was in Europe 😉

    1. scroggzilla Avatar

      No, Tripoli isn't in Europe…..but only because Mussolini didn't get his way

    2. scroggzilla Avatar

      No, Tripoli isn't in Europe…….but if Mussolini had his way, it would have been.

  2. muthalovin Avatar

    What makes that Gran Prix so nice?

    1. Alff Avatar

      There isn't an Asola in it.

    2. scroggzilla Avatar

      [youtube jM7Rxx48me0 youtube]