Walt E. MONACO
In 1953 the great Tazio Nuvolari had died and in 1954 the race route was modified to pass through his native Mantua. In remembrance of the greatest racing driver of them all the thundering echo of race cars would be heard in his hometown. The death of Tazio Nuvolari, on 11 August 1953, touched all the World. Particularly it moved Renzo Castagneto, Aymo Maggi and Giovanni Canestrini, the men of the "Mille Miglia", who planned "the most beautiful race in the world" with Franco Mazzotti, dead during the 2nd World War. Castagneto, "deus ex machina" of the Mille Miglia and his friends, were very attached to the Mantuan pilot. They were linked by a close bond of affection and they felt deep consideration and admiration toward this great "man-champion". They also were grateful to him to because he contributed a lot to the unrestrainable growing of their "creature". To honor his memory, the traditional itinerary of the Mille Miglia was changed in order to get it pass through Mantova. Since then the GRAN PREMIO NUVOLARI was established in order to give a price to the fastest pilot, on the route along the impressive straight roads which cross "The Po Valley", starting from Cremona, through Mantova until the finish in Brescia.
Mr and Mrs Tommy WISDOM.
Walt Monaco, talking to Peter Collins (left), just before the start.
Tommy WISDOM and Walt E. MONACO in their Austin Healey 100S on the plinth at the start of the 1956 Mille Miglia, prepared for the off. Similar to modern day rallying, cars were started one by one, every minute. As number, the starting time was painted on the cars, as an easy indication of performance. As even winners needed 16 hours or more at the time, most competitors had to start before midnight and arrived after dawn - if at all.
With no competition from Lancia or Mercedes Benz, a young and brave Eugenio Castellotti won the rain soaked 1956 event in a 290 MM Ferrari. In fact, Ferraris took the first five places, and a 250GT defeated a serious effort by a factory-backed Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, which finished 6th overall.
The Mille Miglia (Thousand Miles) was an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957 (thirteen before the war, eleven from 1947). Like the older Targa Florio and later the Carrera Panamericana, the MM made Gran Turismo (Grand Touring) sports cars like Alfa Romeo, Ferrari (which debuted as a marque in the 1940 event), Maserati and also Porsche famous.