CIRCUITO DI ALESSANDRIA
Alessandria-Valenca-Castelletto (I), 2 May 1926.
8 laps x 32.0 km (19.88 mi) = 256.0 km (159.1 mi)
Giovanni Alloatti - the surprise winner at Alessandria
by Hans Etzrodt
The 27 cars at the Alessandria Circuit were divided into three categories. The 256 km race ended with a surprise victory by the young and totally unknown Alloatti (1500 Bugatti) ahead of
Consonno (2000 Bugatti) and Niccoli (2000 OM). Clerici won the cycle car class ahead of Pistarini, both with 1100 Salmsons. It was a demanding race for cars and drivers with only nine
drivers reaching the finish.
The Alessandria race had been held annually since 1924 so this was the third in the series, all of which were organized by the Touring Auto Moto Club Alessandrino and held on the Circuito
di Alessandria. The winding 32 km course started in Alessandria leading through twisting curves to the Valmadonna suburb and then through a fast and difficult climb to Valenza, San Salvatore
Monferrato, Castelletto and back to Alessandria. The cars completed eight laps, a total of 256 km. The 42 entries were divided into three categories: up to 1100 cc, from 1101 to1500 cc
and over 1500 cc. The popular race at Alessandria on May 2 took place on the same day as the Coppa Vinci in Sicily.
All 27 starters were Italian drivers. The favorites were Bona and Consonno in 8-cylinder Bugattis while Ceratto raced a large 3000 Alfa Romeo. Valpreda with a fast 1500 Chiribiri type
Monza was very familiar with the circuit and had a good chance for one of the front places. Maserati's only car was entered at the Coppa Vinvi on the same day. A list of all 42 entries is
at the beginning of this report.
Thousands of spectators were scattered along the circuit. The cars were assembled at the start according to their race numbers. At 2:30 PM Prospero Gianferrari, the future Alfa Romeo Managing
Director, gave the start to the first car driven by Gaspare Bona (2000 Bugatti). The next driver followed after a gap of half a minute and then one after another the remaining 25 participants.
After the last car had started, the passage of the first competitor was announced. It was Bona with the 2000 Bugatti who took just over 22 minutes for his first lap, followed shortly after by
Federico Valpreda in the 1500 Chiribiri.
On the second lap Durazzo (1500 Bugatti) reported that along the descent of Castelletto two cars had collided and the drivers were injured. Immediately the Green Cross proceeded to drive to
the place that he had indicated to attend to the two drivers Berretta (1500 Aurea) and Astengo (1500 Bugatti). The two injured drivers were then transported to the hospital. Astengo, 34 years
old from Genova, had three broken ribs and multiple bruises while Berretta, 30 years old from Perugia, had head injuries. Their mechanics were injured but not seriously. It was learned later
that while the two competitors ran at speed in the descent that led to San Michele, the two cars collided, their drivers lost control, and the cars skidded across the road and hit telegraph poles.
Valpreda (1500 Chiribiri), the big favorite, maintained a very high speed. The first two laps he made in 20m32s and 20m25.6s respectively. After the fourth lap Valpreda had covered half the
distance, 128 km, in 1h22m37s at an average of 92.613 km/h. Consonno followed in second place in 1h38m56s. When the victory of Valpreda seemed certain, he had to retire due to engine failure.
Few cars now remained in the race. At the end Alloatti in the Bugatti was ranked first in his category and first overall covering the eight laps in 2h48m38.4s at 91.081 km/h.
Most of the reports were brief and lacked detailed information. At times there was inaccurate data, even wrong dates for the event.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
La Gazetta dello Sport, Milano
La Stampa, Torino
L'AUTO ITALIANA, Milano
Special thanks to:
Circuito di Gelso Bianco - Catania (I) 9 May 1926.
10 laps x 35 km (21.7 mi) = 350 km (217.5 mi)
Maggi wins the Coppa Etna with his Bugatti
by Hans Etzrodt
The 22 cars at the Coppa Etna in Sicily were divided into four categories by engine capacity. The 350 km race went over ten laps around the Gelso Bianco Circuit. Count Maggi led the race from the
first to last lap with his 8-cylinder T35 Bugatti ahead of another T35 Bugatti of Cavaliere Musmeci who remained in second place until he crashed on lap three. Ten other drivers retired during
the race. After almost four hours the battle ended for Maggi with a victory ahead of Giusti (1500 Bugatti) and Balestrero (2200 OM). There were eight other finishers, the last of which was
Candrilli in his 4.4-liter Steyr after five hours and 23 minutes.
The Coppa Etna was held for the first time in 1925. In 1926 the race was again organized by the Automobile Club di Catania on the 35 km Circuito di Gelso Bianco which had
to be lapped 10 times, a total of 350 km. The event was the third race in Sicily within 14 days after the Madonie Circuit (Targa Florio) and prior to the Peloritani Circuit (Coppa Messina).
The Catania race took place on a very fast mixed circuit with mild slopes and long straights with flat sections abounding.
Although the organizers designated the race the Coppa Etna, the event was referred to as Circuito del Gelso Bianco, taking a cue from the lush mulberry tree. The circuit, which
was no wider than five meters, wound its way over 35 km along a twisting and hilly dirt road course of 150 corners. The start, took place at the Piazza Palestro where the pits and grandstands were
located. The Piazza was packed with spectators in the stands, on the terraces and rooftops and in the pits area. After rounding the Piazza, the course left Catania along via Palermo and headed
uphill in a north westerly direction passing through the town of Misterbianco. From here the course turned south-west to Motta Sant'Anastasia at an altitude of 275 meters.
From there the road twisted south for eight kilometers downhill to the dangerous left hand curve of Stazione di Motta S.A. Here the course turned east on flat terrain, then north-east
back into the west side of Catania to the finish straight.
Entries & Practice:|
Nine of the drivers had raced the week before at the Coppa Vinci, namely Candrilli, Balestrero, Piro, Sillitti, Musmeci, Marano, Irrera, Tricomi and Cucinotta. Angelo Giusti with a 1500
Bugatti had entered under the pseudonym Evangelicus Sayres but he is listed in this report as Giusti.
Alessandro Silva informed that Antonio or "Nino" Maravigna Vaccaro is a double family name. Sometimes the second is used, sometimes not. Maravigna entered the #15 OM 2000. Confusion was
also caused by the name of Letterio Cucinotta, who started with car #31, an 1100 Salmson. He was the son of Carmelo Cucinotta, a textile industrialist and of Anna Picciotto. He was still
a small child when Carmelo died and Anna remarried with Antonio Piccolo, also a wealthy operator in the textile business. Letterio was adopted and used also the Piccolo surname, a fact that
has originated some confusion as three of his five stepbrothers, Mario, Carmelo and Giuseppe Piccolo, would also become racing drivers following in Letterio's footstep. Mario Piccolo was
the better known of the three. He raced extensively and more confusion was added by the fact that Letterio Cucinotta's middle name was Mario!
From the 29 entries the following drivers did not appear: Casano (3000 Alfa Romeo), Piro (4500 Fiat), Antonelli (2000 Bugatti), Sillitti (2000 Bugatti) and Rallo (1100 Salmson), including
Arnone (2000 Bugatti) and Comella (1100 Salmson) who were not mentioned to have started. This left 22 participants who are all listed at the beginning of this report.
The start began half-a-minute after 8:00 AM in order of the race numbers and one car at a time. They started at half-minute intervals because of the dust from the dirt roads. Between each category
there was an additional interval of one minute. The large cars over 2000 cc were released first followed by the 2000 class, next the 1500 cars and the 1100 cars last. Drivers were permitted to be
unaccompanied, but almost every car carried a riding mechanic and one or two spare wheels. However, the cars were not necessarily released at half-minute intervals. The times were determined beforehand
according to the race numbers and if cars did not appear at the start (e.g. #4), then the car #5 was held to its predetermined time of departure. The #13 and #17 were not used, because drivers considered
them unlucky numbers.
|8:00:30||1||Candrilli||Steyr||over 2000 cc|
|8:02||4||Casano||Alfa Romeo||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:04||8||Piro||Fiat||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:05:30||9||Antonelli||Bugatti||2000 cc||DNA - did not appear|
|8:06||10||Sillitti||Bugatti||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:06:30||11||Arnone||Bugatti||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:15:30||27||Comella||Salmson||1100 cc||DNA - did not appear|
|8:16||28||Rallo||Salmson||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
The Starter Carlo Carnazza dropped the flag for the first car, the red Steyr of Candrilli, who took off to great applause. The drivers were flagged away one after another with cheers by the enthusiastic
crowd in the grandstand. At 8:17m30s Cucinotta's Salmson was the last car to start.
After the first lap, Maggi (2000 Bugatti) had a huge lead - 2m48s, followed by the Bugatti of Musmeci and, surprisingly, the OMs of Maravigna and Notaro. Candrilli was leading the class over 2000 cc and
was chased by Magistri. In the 1500 cc class, Giusti and Tricomi, were credited with the same time, preceding the Bugatti of Irrera and Riccioli's Fiat. In the class up to 1100 cc Borzacchini's Salmson
outdistanced Cucinotta (Salmson) and Restivo (Amilcar). The others followed at varying intervals. The order was as follows after the first lap:
|1.||Maggi (Bugatti)||22m07s||2000 cc|
|2.||Musmeci (Bugatti)||24m55s||2000 cc|
|3.||Candrilli (Steyr)||25m03s||over 2000 cc|
|4.||Maravigna (OM)||25m06s||2000 cc|
|5.||Magistri (Alfa Romeo)||25m09s||over 2000 cc|
|6.||Borzacchini (Salmson)||25m10s||1100 cc|
|7.||Notaro (OM)||26m16s||2000 cc|
|8.||Giusti (Bugatti)||26m17s||1500 cc|
|9.||Tricomi (Fiat)||26m17s||1500 cc|
|10.||Irrera (Bugatti)||1500 cc|
|11.||Riccioli (Fiat)||1500 cc|
On the second lap Maggi was still in the lead, threatened by Musmeci, both in 8-cylinder Bugattis, followed by Magistri, Maravigna, Candrilli, Irrera and Giusti, who had gained one position and was going
very fast. He was ahead of Notaro, Lamarca, Riccioli, Irrera, Marano,Tricomi and Borzacchini. At the Gelso Bianco curve the crowd applauded the local hero Musmeci from Catania, who took the turn in
spectacular and gritty style. After the double curve, he responded to the crowd with a short wave of his hand. Magistri (Alfa Romeo) headed the class over 2000 cc, followed by Candrilli (Steyr) and
Balestrero (OM). In the 2000 class behind Maggi followed Musmeci and Maravigna while Irrera headed the 1500 class, chased by Giusti and Riccioli. In the 1100 class Borzacchini continued to dominate,
pursued by Cucinotta and Restivo.
On the third lap, Musmeci, the only driver who could seriously challenge Maggi, crashed at the infamous Gelso Bianco curve where, on the previous lap, he had received an enthusiastic ovation of the crowd.
The Giornale Di Sicilia reported: ....."The little blue racing car enters the curve beautifully, it is about to cross it when we see its rear wheels hit violently against the last corner protectors.
We see distantly the car rearing up like a colt almost vertically, a human body projected into the air, then a thud and a cloud of dust. It's a crash in the souls of everyone present..... Musmeci
remained with his body hanging down and his foot stuck inside the steering wheel, immobile and bleeding. The situation was tragically mocking also because the dust and the blood had made his face
unrecognizable. A sense of horror and dismay invaded us....." The driver was promptly extracted from the cockpit and brought to a nearby first aid tent, including the mechanic Francesco Puglisi.
Both had not yet regained consciousness. But shortly after when Musmeci opened his eyes, it was realized that his condition was not at all worrying. But poor Puglisi was seriously injured with some
broken ribs. Meantime, Maggi kept the lead without any challenge by his pursuers, who were more than eight minutes behind. Magistri and Maravigna followed with increasingly larger gaps to Irrera,
Giusti, Candrilli, Riccioli, Marano, Puglisi and Borzacchini. The various classes were led by Magistri, Maggi, Irrera and Borzacchini. Among the drivers who had retired, were Musmeci, Restivo and
the well-known Barresi from Palermo, all out of the race on the third lap.
On lap four Maggi increased his lead and was now over four minutes ahead of Magistri, who was followed after 1m28s by Maravigna. Giusti was in fourth place crossing the finish line with a time of 1h41m20s.
Balestrero who made up much time followed after more than 2 minutes in fifth place, ahead of Candrilli, Irrera, Riccioli, Marano, Borzacchini and Puglesi. Tricomi and D'Agata made pitstops during the
fourth lap. In the four classes, the leaders were Magistri, Maggi, Giusti and Borzacchini.
Halfway through the race after five laps Maggi was still firmly in the lead, while the consistently driving Maravigna had advanced to second place, 14 seconds ahead of fast driving Giusti. Balestrero
was now fourth, ahead of Magistri who had dropped from second to fourth. Next were Irrera, Candrilli,Riccioli, Notaro, Marano and Borzacchini. The four classes were led by Balestrero, Maggi, Giusti and
Borzacchini. 15 drivers were still in the race.
On lap six Maggi still held the lead ahead of Giusti, Balestrero and Maravigna who had lost his second place and dropped to fourth position. Magistri, the winner of the first Coppa Etna in 1925, fell
from his fifth place and retired his Alfa Romeo. Irrera now held fifth position, ahead of Riccioli, Candrilli, Notaro, Marano and Borzacchini, followed further back by Fisauli, PatanÚ and Puglisi. Cucinotta
retired from second place behind Borzacchini in the 1100 class.
After seven laps Maggi kept his first place followed by Balestrero and Irrera now in 2nd and 3rd places, separated by a few seconds. Giusti had dropped from second to fourth position after he stopped at
the pits to refuel. Maravigna held fifth place ahead of a close battle between Marano, Notaro and Riccioli, followed by Puglisi (Diatto) and Borzacchini with the small Salmson 1100. Fisauli with the old
Ceirano had never been in the top ten and retired with mechanical failure.
On lap eight Maggi maintained first place followed again by Giusti who had recovered second position after his pit stop. Balestrero had fallen to third place, followed by Maravigna, Irrera, Riccioli,
Marano, Borzacchini, Puglisi and Notaro.
After nine laps Maggi was leading with Giusti second although well distanced from the leader, followed by Balestrero, Irrera, Maravigna, Borzacchini, Notaro, PatanŔ, Puglisi and Candrilli. Riccioli
retired when he broke a leaf spring on his Fiat, during his heated fight with Irrera, Marano and Notaro. That late in the race D'Agata was mentioned that, following a consistent drive, he had to retire
but his lap count was not revealed.
On the last lap, after 350 km of the tiring race, Count Maggi crossed the finish line and was applauded for his glaring victory. He completed the 10 laps in 3h54m03.6s at 89.709 km/h average speed
and also established the fastest lap with a time of 22m07.3s at 94.908 km/h average speed. Ten other drivers followed as listed in the results. Giusti finished on the same lap while all the others
had been lapped up to three times. They all continued to race until they completed the full distance.
|1.||12||Aymo Maggi||Count A. Maggi||Bugatti||T35A||2.0||S-8||10||3h54m03.6s|| |
|2.||21||Angelo Giusti||"Evangelicus Sayres"||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||10||4h13m56.2s||+ 19m52.6s|
|3.||6||Renato Balestrero||R. Balestrero||OM||665 S||2.2||S-6||10||4h18m39.8s||+ 24m36.2s|
|4.||24||Renato Irrera||R. Irrera||Bugatti||T13 Brescia||1.5||S-4||10||4h21m09.2s||+ 27m05.6s|
|5.||15||Antonio Vaccaro Maravigna||A. "Nino" Maravigna||OM||665 S||2.0||S-6||10||4h21m50.6s||+ 27m47.0s|
|6.||19||Salvatore Marano||S. Marano||Fiat||501 SS Silvani||1.5||S-4||10||4h27m08.0s||+ 33m04.4s|
|7.||30||Baconin Borzacchini||B. Borzacchini||Salmson||GGS||1.1||S-4||10||4h33m18.0s||+ 39m14.4s|
|8.||16||Giovanni Notaro||G. Notaro||OM||665 S||2.0||S-6||10||4h38m20.0s||+ 44m16.4s|
|9.||25||Giovanni PatanÚ||G. PatanÚ||Bugatti||T37||1.5||S-4||10||4h42m50.0s||+ 48m46.4s|
|10.||3||Giuseppe Puglisi||G.Puglisi||Diatto||20/25||2.5||S-4||10||5h06m47.0s||+ 1h12m43.4s|
|11.||1||Saverio Candrilli||S. Candrilli||Steyr||VI||4.4||S-6||10||5h23m01.0s||+ 1h28m57.4s|
|DNF||18||Eugenio Riccioli||E. Riccioli||Fiat||501 SS||1.5||S-4||8||leaf spring|| |
|DNF||2||Federico Fisauli||F. Fisauli||Ceirano||2SCH||3.0||S-4||6||mechanical|
|DNF||7||Costantino Magistri||C. Magistri||Alfa Romeo||RLSS||3.6||S-6||5||retired on lap 6|
|DNF||31||Letterio Cucinotta||L. Cucinotta||Salmson||1.1||S-4||5||retired on lap 6|| |
|DNF||26||Antonio Tricomi||A. Tricomi||Fiat||501 SS||1.5||S-4||4||4 or more laps|| |
|DNF||22||Antonino d'Agata||A. "Nino" d'Agata||Bugatti||1.5||S-4||4||4 or more laps|| |
|DNF||20||Michele Lamarca||Lamarca||OM||469||1.5||S-4||2||2 or more laps|| |
|DNF||5||Tot˛ Barresi||T. Barresi||Diatto||3000||3.0||S-4||2||retired on lap 3|| |
|DNF||29||Francesco Restivo||F. Restivo||Amilcar||1.1||S-4||2||retired on lap 3|| |
|DNF||14||Salvatore Musmeci||Cavaliere S. Musmeci||Bugatti||T35A||2.0||S-8||2||crash on lap 3|| |
|DNF||23||Antonio Jacono-Caruso||A. Jacono-Caruso||Bugatti||1.5||S-4||1||1 or more laps|| |
Fastest lap: Aymo Maggi (Bugatti) in 22m07s = 95.0 km/h (59.0 mph).|
Winner's average speed, over 2000 cc, Balestrero: 81.2 km/h (50.4 mph).
Winner's average speed, 2000 cc, Maggi: 89.7 km/h (55.8 mph).
Winner's average speed, 1500 cc, Giusti: 82.7 km/h (51.4 mph).
Winner's average speed, 1100 cc, Borzacchini: 76.8 km/h (47.7 mph).
Weather: dry, sunny and warm
The few published reports contained incomplete results and little or no meaningful content. The book by Rino Rao listed race numbers, starting times and with the greater part of the progress during the race.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
ACI - rivista, Torino
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
Special thanks to:
Ms. Paola Masetta
Rino Rao: Coppa Etna book