The familiar trademark Marlboro Stetson was bobbing about in the pit lane at the Mores circuit in Sardinia, Italy, in mid-April, warning anyone who wanted to take notice that Arturo Merzario has not finished yet. And he proved it. At 66 years old, the former Ferrari and Williams Formula One driver and team owner drove a Lotus Exige Mk1 against a grid full of much younger drivers, looking to make their mark in the first round of the Lotus Cup of Italy at the circuit—and he won.
This is a man who has competed in motor racing more or less nonstop since 1962, when he made his debut in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta at Monza and came 8th. During his 47-year career, Arturo has driven for Carlo Abarth, for whom he won the 1969 GP of Mugello in an Abarth 2000, before joining the Ferrari works team. His F1 career for Ferrari was lackluster until Arturo discovered his true vocation as a closed-wheel champion. Then he won the 1972 1000 Km of Spa with Brian Redman, and the year’s Targa Florio with World Rally Champion Sandro Munari in Ferrari 312Ps.
Merzario switched to Alfa Romeo for 1975 and almost single-handedly won the World Championship for Sports Cars with victories in the Alfa 33TT12 at Dijon, Monza, Enna, and the Nürburgring. He won the championship again for Autodelta in 1977, with wins at Dijon, Enna, Estoril, and Paul Ricard.
He formed his own F1 team and designed many of his Ford-powered cars himself, but the venture failed. Merzarios were entered for a total of 20 Grands Prix, but they did not finish any of them. Things did not go much better for similar ventures in other motor racing categories, so Arturo went back to being a driver and began scoring a slew of victories in places like Vallelunga, Imola, Estoril and, now, Mores in Sardinia. Forza Arturo!