1974 BRITISH GRAND PRIX
Vittorio Brambilla, going through my brother Luc's fotoalbum.
Known as "The Monza Gorilla" Brambilla began racing motorcycles in 1957 and won the Italian national 175cc title the following year. He also raced go karts before becoming a mechanic for his brother Tino. Vittorio returned to racing in 1968 in Formula 3 and won the Italian title in 1972, by which time he was already racing in Formula 2 with March. He won several F2 races and with backing from Beta Tools he bought his way into F1 in 1974 with the March factory team. Vittorio's great day came at the Osterreichring in 1975 when he surfed to victory in the rain-shortened Austrian Grand Prix in a works March 751 which also had taken him to pole position earlier in Sweden. He is best remembered for spinning off and wrecking the nose of the March as he took the chequered flag in Austria, completing the slowing down lap with the front of the car askew, waving madly to the crowd as he did so.
A subsequent two year stint with Team Surtees produced a succession of stirring performances, but all too frequently he overdrove the machinery and paid the price with accidents and mechanical retirements. He also drove for the Alfa Romeo sportscar team in 1977 helping the company win the World Championship for Sportscars with the T33SC/12.
He suffered serious head injuries in the multiple pileup at Monza in 1978 which cost the life of Ronnie Peterson, but he recovered to drive briefly for the Alfa Romeo works team in Formula 1 in 1979 and 1980 before drifting into retirement.
He died of a heart attack at the age of 63 while working in his garden.
Doubts have often be passed on his pole position in Sweden, the suggestion being that a March team member swung a pitboard in front of the timing beam just before Brambilla really got there but there is no doubting that amazing single win in Austria.