27 February 2019

A wild old place. Fascinating F1 Facts: 89

The Grand Prix of Pescara in 1957 lasted only 10 laps. This was because the circuit, which was laid out on public roads, was 16 miles in length, longer even than the old Nürburgring, which was only 14 miles in total.

Pescara is a city on the Adriatic coast of Italy which began to host motor races after the First World War when the locals mapped out a triangular route which left the city and wound itself through the hills behind to Spoltore and then downhill again to the village of Capelle sul Tavo in the valley of the River Tavo. From there it was a fast run to the coastal town of Montesilvano and then a flat-out four-mile straight beside the sea back to Pescara. It included a level crossing and several hill villages where dogs and chickens provided nasty surprises for the drivers. The prize for this event was called the Coppa Acerbo and it quickly became a famous race, attended by all the big stars in the 1920s and 1930s, and had its own traditional mid-August date. It was revived after the war although the Coppa Acerbo name was dropped because of its Fascist connections and the race became known as the Circuito di Pescara. It was a non-championship F1 race in 1950 in which team-mates Juan Manuel Fangio and Luigi Fagioli battled until the last lap when  the latter suffered a broken wheel. Fangio slowed and indicated to Fagioli that he should continue to the finish and stayed with him, keeping a watchful eye behind in case any rivals appeared. They were only a few hundred yards from the finish line when Louis Rosier arrived behind them in his Talbot and Fangio had to accelerate away to ensure victory for Alfa Romeo. There were a couple of other non-championship races and then in 1957 the Belgian and Dutch Grands Prix were cancelled and the World Championship was left with only six events. The FIA decided that Pescara should be granted a World Championship race, the first time in the F1 history when two World Championship events took place in the same country. Enzo Ferrari refused to take part, furious at the Italian government's moves to ban road racing following Alfonso de Portago’s accident earlier in the year on the Mille Miglia. But Luigi Musso persuaded Ferrari to lend him a car and entered the race as a privateer, although the race would be won by Stirling Moss in a Vanwall after Musso's engine blew. Ironically, this put down oil and caused Fangio to spin his Maserati, which meant that he lost too much time to be able to battle Moss.

Racing continued at Pescara for a few more years but it was by then deemed to be too dangerous for major international events.

It has just one claim to fame. It was, and still is, the longest circuit ever to host a round of the Formula 1 World Championship.

« An unsung hero. Fascinating F1 Facts: 90

Changing shirts. Fascinating F1 Facts: 88 »