Results: 1947 Mille Miglia Results / Dates: June 21-22, 1947 / Winner: Biondetti – Romano / Winning Speed: 70.14 mph / Starters: 155 / Finishers: 54
The war had been over two years before another Mille Miglia would be held. The pre-war ban on racing had been for the most part forgotten in the face of the publics desire to turn their back on the deprivations of the just concluded war. The event was named the ‘Franco Mazzotti’ Mille Miglia Cup, in memory of one of the founders of the Mille Miglia whose plane had been shot down in 1942. If you squinted your eyes it almost seemed like old times again. Back were the Alfas, now un supercharged and Fiats innumerable now joined by a fleet of 1100 CC Cisitalias. Biondetti, Maggi, Brivio, Taruffi, Morandi and the beloved Nuvolari were there to compete once again in the great national race.
The name “Cisitalia” derives from “Consorzio Industriale Sportive Italia,” a business conglomerate founded in Turin in 1946 and controlled by the wealthy industrialist and sportsman Piero Dusio. Prior to the war Dusio was one of Italy’s leading amateur racers, campaigning his Alfa Romeos, Maseratis and Fiats in both road races and hill climbs. One of Dusio’s foremost employees was Carlo Abarth, who made quite a name for himself constructing side cars and racing motorcycles in the 1930s.
One of Abarth’s most important assets was his connection with the Porsche family and the written authorization given to him to represent the family’s interest in Italy. He joined Cisitalia after the first car was already designed and constructed, but he helped a great deal in the development of the Cisitalia vehicles, before starting up his own company. Dusio’s dream was to start a one make racing series in which the drivers’ talents would be the decisive factor. To keep things affordable he based his single seater to be used for this series on Fiat’s newly launched 500B Topolino. Many of the Fiat’s mechanical parts, including the suspension and engine were used for the D46. The single seater was named after the first letter of Dusio’s last name and debut year of 1946.
In 1947 a two seater 202 CMM coupe was launched, followed shortly by the 202 SMM roadster. It was similar in design to the D46, with the exception of the four-speed gearbox replacing the three-speed preselector box used in the D46. Nothing about the 202’s design was particularly advanced, but it proved a competitive and above all, reliable package. Just the right package in the hands of a master such as Tazio Nuvolari.
The race scheduled to run in April was delayed till June to allow the Fiat factory in Turin more time to produce a new 1100 cc model in sufficient quantities for the pent up demand. The race was also the first appearance of a Ferrari racing under its owner’s name, driven by Franco Cortese. The first postwar Mille Miglia and all subsequent races were to be run backwards or clockwise and was extended to over 1,132 miles passing through Bologna only once. As many of the bridges over the Po river were still destroyed a number of detours were necessary.
One other major obstacle presented itself to the potential entrants, the shortage of petrol and or tires. Only through persistent negotiations were special compensations extracted from the fuel companies and Pirelli, the supplier of racing tires. Every entrant was given a full tank of gas as well as five new tires. Upon hearing the news the list of entrants grew to 245 cars. The Italians being ever clever, ninety of these “entrants” promptly drove home before the race with their shiny new tires and full tank of gas!
The early race saw a titanic struggle between the small Cisitalia and the much larger Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B with Nuvolari opening up an eight minute lead but on the return leg from Bologna there was nothing that the Mantuan could do to compensate for the horsepower advantage of Biondetti’s Alfa as it sped along the autostrada on the way back to Brescia, wining by sixteen minutes. It’s probable that Biondetti and his co-driver Emilio Romano knew all along that they had the race in the bag. Still able to come in second, first in its class, Nuvolari now in very poor health due to exhaust poisoning, with a heart too large to be fully contained in such a diminutive frame had to be carried from the car. Ever since that class win, the 20MM body type has been known as the ‘Nuvolari Spider’.