On this day… 26th July
Italian racing driver Antonio Ascari was killed while leading the French Grand Prix.
This race was a gruelling 621 miles in length, held in Monthery and as had been the case in previous races, Ascari rocketed into an ever increasing lead.
The lap was 12.5km in length and the race winning time that day was 5 hours and 48 minutes.
On lap 23 the rain began to fall, but only in parts of the circuit, making driving conditions unpredictable. Ascari clipped a wooden paling fence at about 190 kph, ripping it down for over a hundred metres. His car then flipped into a ditch.
Antonio had bitterly complained about this dangerous type of fencing prior to the race to no avail and he dies on his way to hospital.
Antonio and Enzo Ferrari were good friends and the shock of Ascari’s meant Enzo refused the opportunity from the Alfa Romeo work’s team to step up and race himself at Grand Prix level. This decision changed Enzo’s focus from his personal racing career toward driver management, car design and race team management – it was the Scuderia and Ferrari was born.
Ascari’s son Alberto, was just 7 years old at the time of his death, but he famously went on to become FIA World Champion in 1952 and 1953.
Enzo Ferrari finally left Alfa Romeo in 1938 and he built two Type 815 straight-eight, 1½-litre sports cars. A quirk of history saw one of these ‘original’ Ferrari’s entrusted to Alberto for that years epic Mille Miglia race. His co-driver was Enzo’s cousin Minozzi
Bizarrely both Ascari the father and Ascari the son were killed racing on the 26th day of the month and both at 36 years of age.
Antonio Ascari’s major victories:
- 1919: Parma Poggio di Berceto hill-climb (Fiat) 1st, Consuma Cup hill-climb (Fiat) 1st
- 1920: Garda Cup race (AI fa Romeo) 1st
- 1921: Parma Poggio di Berceto hill-climb (Alfa Romeo) 1st in class
- 1922: Gargnano-Tignale hill-climb (Alfa Romeo) 1st, Targa Florio (Alfa Rorneo) 1st in class
- 1923: Circuit of Cremona (Alfa Romeo) 1st Circuit of Mugello (AI fa Roineo) 1st in class
- 1924: Parma Poggio di Berceto hill-climb (Alfa Romeo) 1st Circuit of Cremona (Alfa Romeo) 1st Italian GP, Monza (Alfa Romeo) 1st
- 1925: GP of Europe, Spa, Belgium (Alfa Romeo) 1st