Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Notable Giulietta, Notable Driver

The stock windshield has been removed and replaced with a single-occupant wrap-around screen and a tonneau cover (a la D-Type Jaguar).  Otherwise, it looks bone-stock except for the low-mounted driving light and the leather hood straps.  That includes the steering wheel and the "racing mirror," which is simply a standard fender mirror moved to the dash.  It still wears its stock bumpers.  It even has hubcaps.  This was all you needed to enter the Mille Miglia in 1956.  The driver was up at (shall we say) 3:30 for a 4:25 a.m. start.  His effort was rewarded with a DNF.

We can be confident that the Veloce engine was not stock.  It was, at minimum, blueprinted and tuned.  That's because the car was driven by Consalvo Sanesi (1911-1998).  He was Alfa Romeo's chief test driver for many years.  He was also of that generation of racers who's careers were truncated by World War Two.  (Tazio Nuvolari was the most famous one.)  Alfa did not enter Sanesi in their Tipo 158/159 GP cars 1949-1951, but he drove their sports car entries (including prototypes) in premier FIA events including LeMans and the Mille.

His last race was Sebring, 1964, where he led the Alfa factory team of three GTZ's.  Late in the race his car had electrical problems.  He was limping along with dim tail lights in the dark past the pits when Bob Johnson swerved his class-leading Cobra closer to the pits to look for a signal, not seeing Sanesi.
The GTZ exploded into flames as Johnson wrecked against a barrier (he was unhurt but the car was done).  Sanesi was pulled from his burning car by Jocko Maggiocomo, who happened to be standing nearby in the pits.  You might think that Jocko was a fellow Italian, but he was the owner of Jocko's Speed Shop in Poughkeepsie, NY.  Despite Jocko's quick thinking and heroism, Sanesi was burned.  So, in his early 50's, he decided he'd had enough and retired from racing.

Sanesi in early postwar racing garb.

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