Alfa Romeo’s driver/co-driver teams for the 1920 Targa Florio were (left to right) Campari and Ramponi, Ferrari and Conti, and Baldoni and Porri. Ferrari and Conti finished 2nd.
Photo: Alfa Romeo
Giuseppe Campari discovered 17-year-old Giulio Ramponi in 1919, when the youngster was working as a trainee for a Milan fuel pump manufacturer. The great driver was looking for a keen young man who he could mould into an effective riding mechanic. And that was the start of Giulio’s brilliant career as a “rider,” racing car technician and, eventually, a car designer.
Campari got Ramponi a job as an apprentice at Alfa Romeo’s Portello factory on the outskirts of Milan. The lad immediately showed promise, so much so that, a few months later, Giuseppe asked Giulio to become his riding mechanic for the first time, in the 1920 Parma-Poggio di Berceto hillclimb. And it was a gamble that paid off, because, within the sight of the finish, the bonnet of the duo’s Alfa Romeo 40-60 hp flew off, so the driver had young Ramponi run after the missing bodywork, bring it back, then lie along the side of the car holding onto the errant bonnet for dear life as they won the classic Italian hillclimb.
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