Giovanni Bracco

Giovanni Bracco Biography

He was born at Cossila near Biella, Italy, on the 6th of June 1908. At the ripe old age of 15 he boarded a ship bound for Brazil to seek his fortune in South America. After a series of mis-adventures he returned to Italy and decided to try his hand at motor racing but in 1934 competing in the Coppa d’Oro del Littorio he ran off the road and sustained serious injuries which cost him his left lung and a long stay in the hospital. His motto had always been, “Either it goes, or I’ll crash it”, but before he could do more damage to himself his father forbade him to compete in motor racing. It was only upon the death of his father that Bracco once again grabbed the wheel in anger. He soon found out that he had a particular love of road racing and was a master of hill-climbing.

In 1947 tragedy struck when Bracco’s Delage crashed into the crowd at Modena, Italy killing five spectators and injuring several others. The race was stopped and the Maserati’s of Gigi Villoresi and Alberto Ascari were awarded first and second. Bracco was not responsable for the accident, but its memory always haunted him.

In 1952 he won the Mille Miglia in a drive that was in the words of Ferrari probably “the most spectacular success of all my racers.” Bracco, was not even considered a works member of the Ferrari team and therefore didn’t get any support and due to his financial position, his budget didn’t even stretch to spare tyres! It was only when the last Ferrari had fallen by the wayside did the Scuderia lend its hand.

Bracco, a man who liked to drink was two minutes down on Karl Kling in a Mercedes when he reached Florence but swore to his co-driver who was reputedly supply him with shots of brandy that they would be leading by the time they reached Bologna. True to his word he was now over a minute ahead. On the final sprint to Brescia he added another three minutes to his advantage. Many years later, a German journalist would write that Kling never quite recovered from his Mille Miglia defeat at the hands of the hard drinking Bracco and his Ferrari. Some journalistic friends had amused themselves by calculating the consumption in liters of Bracco and his car.

Bracco, an extroverted character also suffered from bouts of deep depression and his rapid changes of mood were often drowned with a glass of wine. Bracco, possibly the result of a life lived hard died two months after his 60th birthday on 6 August 1968.