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Luigi Fagioli and Felice Bonetto:
Two Lives behind the Wheel

The racing-car drivers Luigi Fagioli and Felice Bonetto were both born on 9 June, the former in 1898 in Osimo, in the Marche, and the latter in 1903 in Manerbio, in the province of Brescia. In many ways, their lives ran along similar lines, for they both made their debuts in motorcycle racing in the late 1920s but soon moved to cars, where they helped write the history of motor-racing before and after the Second World War. Luigi Fagioli started out in 1925 in French cars made by Salmson and later with Maserati, before joining Alfa Romeo with which, in a P3, he won the Italian Championship in 1933. He then moved to Mercedes and later to Auto Union, until the war broke out. Back at Alfa in the glorious year of 1950, together with the champions Juan Manuel Fangio and Nino Farina, Fagioli became one of the so-called 3F trio, who were destined to sweep the board in the first Formula 1 World Championship in Alfa cars fitted with Pirelli Stella Bianca tyres.

Fagioli came third, after Farina and Fangio. But the real record was broken at the French Grand Prix of 1951, when the already 53-year-old Fagioli shared his car with Fangio and won the two-driver race. Felice Bonetto, too, started his career in motorcycle racing. While Fagioli’s opponent was Tazio Nuvolari, Bonetto’s rival was none other than Enzo Ferrari: After many years with Bugatti and Alfa Romeo, all it took for his relations with the entrepreneur to break down was the 1949 season with Ferrari. Bonetto then moved to O.S.C.A. (Officine Specializzate Costruzione Automobili), and later to Alfa, and then Maserati, before taking to the Lancia Aurelia B20 in 1952. With this, he won the Targa Florio and, the following year, he came third in the Mille Miglia. In November 1953, Bonetto took part in the Carrera Panamericana in a Lancia D24, together with Fangio and Piero Taruffi, another eternal rival of his. While he was leading the race, an accident in the Mexican town of Silao cost him his life. Just one year earlier, his colleague Luigi Fagioli had met the same fate during tests at the 1952 Monaco Grand Prix Formula GT race. Two almost parallel lives that went straight into the history of motorsport.

The racing-car drivers Luigi Fagioli and Felice Bonetto were both born on 9 June, the former in 1898 in Osimo, in the Marche, and the latter in 1903 in Manerbio, in the province of Brescia. In many ways, their lives ran along similar lines, for they both made their debuts in motorcycle racing in the late 1920s but soon moved to cars, where they helped write the history of motor-racing before and after the Second World War. Luigi Fagioli started out in 1925 in French cars made by Salmson and later with Maserati, before joining Alfa Romeo with which, in a P3, he won the Italian Championship in 1933. He then moved to Mercedes and later to Auto Union, until the war broke out. Back at Alfa in the glorious year of 1950, together with the champions Juan Manuel Fangio and Nino Farina, Fagioli became one of the so-called 3F trio, who were destined to sweep the board in the first Formula 1 World Championship in Alfa cars fitted with Pirelli Stella Bianca tyres.

Fagioli came third, after Farina and Fangio. But the real record was broken at the French Grand Prix of 1951, when the already 53-year-old Fagioli shared his car with Fangio and won the two-driver race. Felice Bonetto, too, started his career in motorcycle racing. While Fagioli’s opponent was Tazio Nuvolari, Bonetto’s rival was none other than Enzo Ferrari: After many years with Bugatti and Alfa Romeo, all it took for his relations with the entrepreneur to break down was the 1949 season with Ferrari. Bonetto then moved to O.S.C.A. (Officine Specializzate Costruzione Automobili), and later to Alfa, and then Maserati, before taking to the Lancia Aurelia B20 in 1952. With this, he won the Targa Florio and, the following year, he came third in the Mille Miglia. In November 1953, Bonetto took part in the Carrera Panamericana in a Lancia D24, together with Fangio and Piero Taruffi, another eternal rival of his. While he was leading the race, an accident in the Mexican town of Silao cost him his life. Just one year earlier, his colleague Luigi Fagioli had met the same fate during tests at the 1952 Monaco Grand Prix Formula GT race. Two almost parallel lives that went straight into the history of motorsport.