Results: 1950 Mille Miglia Results / Dates: April 23-24, 1950 / Winner: Marzotto G. – Crosara / Winning Speed: 77.00 mph / Starters: 375 / Finishers: 213
For Italians, number 17 has the same bad connotations as number 13 is to the English speaking world. This year, the 17th Mille Miglia, in the hope that this might balance the negative influence of the number of fortune, the name of the race was changed to “La Mille Miglia del 1950 per la Coppa Franco Mazzotti”. Ferrari was out in force this year with a total of 16 cars including new 3.3-liter 275s models for their F1 aces Alberto Ascari and Gigi Villoresi. These cars sported F1-bred engines created by Aurelio Lampredi who had joined Gioachino Colombo in the Ferrari engine department, though the latter continued to be involved, producing the engine used by a number of Ferrari’s as well. The race saw the Marzotto family providing four drivers, the brothers and the Marzotto brothers, Giannino,Vittorio, Umberto and Paolo.
Marzotto purchased his car based upon his experience driving a similar model at a recent hill climb where he won decisively. Upon testing his new car he found it nothing compared to the previous car. Suspecting some type of deviousness on the part of Ferrari he returned to the factory to confront the old man. Luigi Bazzi, Ferrari’s legendary technician was brought in to explain that he had purposely “strangled” the engine in order to protect the young driver to the consternation of all in attendance. Ferrari, somewhat embarrassed promised to personally see that the car would be prepared for the upcoming race. Rol, Sanesi and newcomer Juan Manual Fangio were entered in 3-liter Alfas while Bonetto had a 4.5 liter pre-war Grand Prix engined Alfa roadster which was easily the loudest if not the fastest car in the field. Further back in the field was 4-time winner Clemente Biondetti now driving a Jaguar after being put out to pasture by Ferrari, a 52-year old driver still capable but dying of cancer.
The weather would turn deadly by the start with fog moving in and a constant downpour that would last the entire race and would lead to numerous accidents. The lead Ferraris of Ascari and Villoresi though the most powerful did not have the road handling to match and had to give way to the smaller more nimble Ferrari of Giannino Marzotto. When the conditions slightly improved the more powerful car of Villoresi was able to take the lead. Ascari the faster driver, not quite having the stomach for this type of racing was further behind. Ferrari had warned his works drivers not to stress their cars unnecessarily and to maintain a conservative pace until the later stages of the race. In the Apennine section between Pescara and Rome it all came to naught when first Ascari and the Villoresi retired with transmission failures. Marzotto was now back in the lead followed by Serafini. Into Brescia he lead to victory in a double-breasted suit, a fitting advertisement for his family’s textile business.
After the race Marzotto was informed by Ferrari that he had secretly replaced the engine with a more powerful 2340 cc model. He went on to demand from the young driver half of the prize money because even if he had not know it this action made him a de facto member of the Ferrari works team!
I drove the whole 1,000 miles. It was quite a thing to experience…to literally be able to kill cats, dogs and even people…how awful… but with total freedom of the road. Lunatic race of course. You went through city streets that had streetcars and buses going down the centre of the road and you were obliged to cut people aside a bit!” Donald Healey