1 9 3 0
We are still working on the 1930 season, so patience, please.
We have now finished the accounts for the major races. I will fill in with minor races, car pictures etc. as I got time.
The information within these pages was derived primarily from contemporary magazines and newspapers. Great information was received from the Swiss AUTOMOBIL-REVUE.
I am indebted to all those outstanding journalists and reporters for their diligent reporting. Without their stories, we would not have learned about what happened at
these events. Secondary sources have also been helpful occasionally but to a much lesser extent. Several others have given valuable advice and corrected errors.
I extend my appreciation to all those helpful specialists and enthusiasts. My gratitude extends to Tony Kaye for patiently editing the text and catching my occasional
blunder. Last but not least, I am especially grateful to Leif Snellman, not only for his wonderfully vivacious drawings but also for providing the foundation in the
attempt to have another look at these long ago races, bringing them back to remembrance as factual and elaborate accounts.
1930 was an excellent year of racing despite the worldwide depression. By winning the three most important events Bugatti still dominated the year but not as much as they had in 1929.
Maserati had their best year ever and the 26M (8C-2500) was the most successful design winning five of nine major races. The Alfa Romeo P2 in revamped form made its last appearance.
Achille Varzi was the most successful driver, but Count Gastone Brilli-Peri was killed practicing for the Tripoli Grand Prix. The Masaryk Circuit in Czechoslovakia held its first race
and Indianapolis departed from the grand prix formula.
The Formula used in 1930 was an amended fuel consumption formula permitting up to 30% benzol mixed with commercial fuel. This was the only change from the 1929 formula. The other regulations were: limiting consumption
to 14 kg/100 km of fuel and oil; minimum engine capacity of 1.1-liter; minimum weight 900 kg; two-seater body with minimum width of 100 cm; two mechanics in addition to the driver(s) allowed to
assist at pit stops; minimum race distance 600 km - 372 mi. Only the European Grand Prix in Belgium was organized to this formula but was not run to the required minimum distance. The CSI and
A.I.A.C.R. had again produced a formula that was unacceptable. Formula Libre however seemed to work well and produced good racing in 1930.
Practically all race organizers ignored the A.I.A.C.R. regulations and instead adopted Formula Libre. Without the World Championship effectively in existence some individual races became more important
than the Grandes Epreuves. The French and the European Grand Prix at Spa were Grandes Epreuves and already established major events. The Targa Florio, Monaco, Rome and Monza Grand Prix
attracted significantly better entries of firms and drivers than did the Grandes Epreuves. The race at Alessandria had more of a provincial character; however Scuderia Ferrari and the Maserati factory team
showed up. The Masaryk Circuit was a new event, attracting only the Scuderia Ferrari and few well known drivers. The Coppa Ciano, Coppa Acerbo and the San Sebastian Grand Prix appealed to factory teams
and should be included in this group, bringing it to 11 major races.
An additional 13 events for Grand Prix cars took place that year. The Tripoli Grand Prix was a small and short race, remembered by the fatal crash of Count Brilli-Peri. The appearance of two factory
Maseratis did not lend enough importance to consider this a major event. The Marne Grand Prix, one of the better known events, seemed to be more like a Bugatti club meeting this time around with mainly
French drivers participating. The remaining races were even less important. They were national events or had a club type nature. The organizers took no effort to attract factory teams and drew mainly
privateers. In all there were 24 circuit races where grand prix cars participated.
The 1930 World Championship :
The 1930 World Championship for constructors was organized by the CSI (International Sporting Commission) of the AIACR. It comprised seven international races in seven different countries.
The Big Crash:
The Big Crash refers to the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange on October 24, 1929, which affected the entire world economy also in Europe. Many businesses closed or declared bankruptcy causing great unemployment in the
world. Auto racing was of course also affected. Names like Chiribi and Diatto disappeared during this economic disaster. The Maserati brothers in contrast were largely unaffected by the crisis due to the
specialized production of racing cars - for the wealthy few - and they were even able to expand their operation.
It began in early January 1930 when the AvD (Automobilclub von Deutschland) terminated the July 13 German Grand Prix. No explanation was given but the reason was probably the bad economic
situation following the 1929 Wall Street crash. The August 23 British Grand Prix was not held but on the same date the Tourist Trophy for sports cars took its place.
1930 SEASON LINEUP:
Factory Racing Teams:
S. A. Alfa Romeo (Milano, Portello, Italy)
Cars: 6C-1750 several types available and the revised P2, of which the factory had three cars at their disposal.
Drivers: Achille Varzi, Tazio Nuvolari, Giuseppe Campari, and Count Aymo Maggi, all (I).
Races entered: Bordino Circuit, Targa Florio, Rome Grand Prix and Coppa Ciano.
Automobiles Ettore Bugatti (Molsheim, France)
Cars: Bugatti T35B and T35C.
Drivers: Louis Chiron (MC), Albert Divo (F), Guy Bouriat (F), "Williams" (GB), and Count C. Conelli (I).
Races entered: Monaco GP, Targa Florio, Rome GP, European GP, and French GP.
Officine Alfiero Maserati (Bologna, Italy)
Cars: Maserati 26B (8C-2000) 2 factory cars and six in private hands.
26M (8C-2500) three cars were available and as of July 14 another one for Arcangeli.
V4 (16C-4000) one factory car to be raced at selected events.
Drivers: Baconin Borzacchini, Luigi Arcangeli, Luigi Fagioli, Ernesto Maserati, Achille Varzi, Count Aymo Maggi, all (I).
Races entered: Tripoli GP, Monaco GP, Targa Florio, Indianapoli 500, Rome GP, Coppa Ciano, Coppa Acerbo, Monza GP and San Sebastian GP.
Officine Meccaniche (Brescia, Italy)
Cars: O.M. racecars were entered only once, at the Targa Florio. O.M. cars were also entered at some minor events but in private hands.
Imperia (Liège, Belgium)
raced their cars only at the European Grand Prix. Imperia cars were entered at some minor races, however, not by the factory.
Independent Racing Teams:
Scuderia Ferrari (Modena, Italy)
Cars: Alfa Romeo 6C-1750, 6C-1500, and P2 on loan from Alfa Romeo factory.
Drivers: Enzo Ferrari, Alfredo Caniato, Mario Tadini, Giuseppe Campari, Tazio Nuvolari, Luigi Arcangeli, and Baconin Borzacchini, all (I).
Races entered: Alessandria, Rome GP, Coppa Ciano, Coppa Acerbo, Monza GP and Masaryk Circuit.
The newly established Scuderia Ferrari was in need of well known drivers, which was the cause for most of the unusual driver changes during the year. At the beginning there was just Enzo Ferrari
with wealthy foundation members Alfredo Caniato and Mario Tadini as drivers. Ferrari, an ex-member of the Alfa Romeo team, had a close working relationship and contracts with the Alfa Romeo factory.
Eventually every S.A. Alfa Romeo driver ended up with the Scuderia Ferrari or Maserati.
Scuderia Materassi (Florence, Italy)
Cars: Talbot 700.
Drivers: Clemente Biondetti (I), Count Gastone Brilli-Peri (I), and Count Antonio Brivio (I).
Races entered: Tripoli GP, Monaco GP, Rome GP, Coppa Acerbo and Monza GP.
After Emilio Materassi's tragic accident 1928 at Monza, the Scuderia Materassi kept its name and participated in five events during 1930. Team manager was Scaletti. The 8-cylinder single-seater cars
had their original 1500 cc engines bored to 1.7-liter, giving 155 hp.
German Bugatti Team
was newly formed with Heinrich-Joachim von Morgen, Prinz Hermann zu Leiningen and Ernst-Günther Burggaller, all (D), as drivers, entered at Rome and Monza Grand Prix and winning the Masaryk Circuit race.
Ecurie Friderich (Nice, France)
entered René Dreyfus at the Monaco Grand Prix, which was the only race where Dreyfus had official backing and was able to win.
Achille Varzi, the twenty-six year old Italian, was the most successful driver in 1930, winning five times out of his eight starts. He began the year at Tripoli, driving a private Bugatti, where he retired with engine
problems after only one lap. With the factory Alfa Romeo P2 he won the Bordino Prize at Alessandria and in an outstanding performance the Targa Florio two weeks later. At Rome and the Coppa Ciano he retired competing against
another P2 driven by his old rival Tazio Nuvolari. Varzi then switched over to the Bologna stable and won all three races in which his Maserati was entered, the Coppa Acerbo, the Monza Grand Prix and the San Sebastian Grand Prix.
With the more powerful Maserati he beat Nuvolari's Alfa Romeo P2 twice, proving that his mid season move to the Bologna team was justified. His sensational drive at the Monza Grand Prix Final must have been as outstanding as his
unforgettable Targa performance. He was also proclaimed Italian Champion for 1930 by achieving the best of four points (Alessandria, Targa Florio, Pescara, and Monza). The Maserati factory became then absolute victor of the
Italian Manufacturers Championship with five points (Tripoli, Rome, Livorno, Pescara and Monza).
Louis Chiron, the thirty-one year old Monegasque, was the top Bugatti factory driver. His only win at a major grand prix was an unpopular staged finish in Spa in the European Grand Prix. With this victory some journalists
mistakenly declared Chiron as Champion and falsely stated that Bugatti had won the Championship for the third time. This Championship however never went into effect (see 1930 World Championship). He came second at Monaco,
where he was outfoxed by the amateur René Dreyfus. At the Targa Florio he finished a fighting second behind Varzi. In the Rome Grand Prix, after taking over Bouriat's car when his own broke down early on, he finished an
extremely close second. In the French Grand Prix, where he again shared Bouriat's car, he drove an ailing Bugatti and was not classified. In the minor races he was seen twice but was not entered as a factory driver. His
only other success was a win in the Lyons Grand Prix. In the Marne Grand Prix his Bugatti developed problems and he had to retire.
Luigi Arcangeli, the twenty-eight year old Italian, drove for the Maserati team. He participated in six major races, making 1930 the best year of his career. At Rome he was able to beat Chiron's Bugatti. In the Monza
Grand Prix he came second after Varzi passed him on the last lap. He retired at Monaco and crashed at the Targa Florio and the Coppa Acerbo. He drove for the Scuderia Ferrari at the Coppa Ciano, where he retired his Alfa Romeo
with clutch problems. Arcangeli was seen at only one minor race, when he came second to Borzacchini's 16-cylinder Maserati at Tripoli.
Luigi Fagioli, 32, was a Maserati factory driver, who drove in only four major races, winning the Coppa Ciano and coming fifth in the Monza Grand Prix.
Philippe Etancelin, 34, the wealthy French privateer from Rouen. He took part in four major events, winning the French Grand Prix, beating the Bugatti works team, but only after the factory cars expired.
René Dreyfus, 25, independent driver from Nice but with official backing from Ecurie Friderich was able to win the Monaco Grand Prix, beating a strong Bugatti factory team of three cars. He drove in only one other major
event, the San Sebastian Grand Prix, where he crashed five laps from the end when in second place.
Heinrich-Joachim von Morgen, 30, independent driver from Berlin, Germany. Together with Prinz Hermann zu Leiningen and Ernst-Günther Burggaller he formed the German Bugatti Team, entering the Rome and Monza Grands Prix
with a third place in Rome. He appeared in just three major events, winning the last one at the Masaryk Circuit when he shared zu Leiningen's Bugatti.
Guy Bouriat, Frenchman, was a Bugatti factory driver, who participated in four grand prix races all year. He came third at Monaco and shared second place with Chiron at Rome. He could have won the European Grand Prix
but he waited at the finish line for Chiron, in order to let him take victory instead. In the French Grand Prix he handed his ailing car over to Chiron.
Bacconin Borzacchini, 31, after his disappointing Targa Florio and the Indianapolis failure he moved from team captain at Maserati to the Scuderia Ferrari. Varzi later filled his place as team captain at the Bologna
With the disappearance of many factory sponsored teams during the economic depression there were great opportunities for the professional and amateur independents, the wealthy enthusiasts, in short the private drivers. At
races with factory teams participating, these independent drivers had little chance of success.
Count Gastone Brilli-Peri, 26, died March 22, 1930 with his Talbot grand prix car in a practice crash for the Tripoli GP to be held the following day. His car turned over in a corner, the driver was
ejected from the Talbot and he fell head first to the ground and died instantly.
Theo Sarbach, 46, Swiss race driver since 1928 and Amilcar dealer, crashed March 23, 1930 when his Amilcar spun in the Eaux-Mortes speed trial slow-down section, his car caught in the tram rails and
turned over. He was brought to the Hospital where his condition was normal but one week later on the evening of March 30 he died of a heart attack.
Count Enrico Benini died April 13, 1930 during the Mille Miglia when as co-driver of an Alfa Romeo 1750SS he crashed against a bridge parapet. He died a few hours later in hospital.
Count Bruni d'Harcourt, 30, French driver, crashed during early morning practice for the postponed Casablanca Circuit, in Morocco on Monday, April 21. He died a few days later in hospital on
April 19, 1930.
Baron Amedeo Sillitti, driver, on April 27, 1930 at Giro di Sicilia where his Bugatti hit a stone wall and turned over. Sillitti hit the stone wall with his head and died instantly.
Charles Liagre, from Lille, France, died on April 26, the evening before the race on the 21.134 km Aisne Circuit, when he crashed trying to avoid a touring car.
Ted Allery, riding mechanic to C.E.C. Rabagliati, died on May 9, 1930 in a Brooklands crash when their Talbot was hit by another car crashing into the side of it, which then rolled over several times
through the spectators railing.
A.E.S. Walter, driver, on Sep 6, 1930 during a race on Brooklands mountain course. Walter's MG touched a sandbank and turned over, causing the driver to receive fatal injuries.
Sir Henry Segrave died on Friday, June 13, 1930 after breaking the World Water Speed Record at 98.76 mph with "Miss England II" at Windermere, England, when he hit a submerged log. One of the two
engineers was drowned by the capsized boat while the other and Sir Henry Segrave were ejected at high speed. Both were severely injured by the impact on the water. After regaining consciousness, Sir Henry
died three hours later of his injuries.
VI GRAN PREMIO DI TRIPOLI
Tagiura Circuit (I), 23 March 1930.
2 heats of 4 laps x 26.2 km (16.28 mi) = 104.8 km (65.12 mi)
Final: 4laps x 26.2 km (16.28 mi) = 104.8 km (65.12 mi)
Brilli-Peri's fatal crash overshadowed Maserati's first grand prix victory
by Hans Etzrodt
The 1930 Tripoli Grand Prix was run for the last time on the old 26.2 km dirt circuit. Although a minor event with only 12 entries, the race turned out to be a big triumph for the Maserati Factory. The victorious
Borzacchini improved on the previous year's records with his 16-cylinder Maserati, while Arcangeli finished second racing a 2-liter Maserati and Biondetti (Talbot) was third as the fastest in the 1500 cc class, also
winning Heat 1. Varzi held third place early on until his Bugatti engine expired. Prince Cerami and Prince Sirignano both in 1500 Maseratis raced each other in an intense battle. Nenzioni started in both Heats and the
Final, with a 1500 Bugatti and a 2000 Maserati. Gola (2300 Bugatti) and Toti (2000 Maserati) both retired in Heat 2. Fagioli (1100 Salmson) was in the slowest car. Unfortunately, the previous year's winner, the famous
Italian Brilli-Peri, lost his life when he crashed the straight-8 Talbot in practice the day before the race.
The sixth running of the Grand Prix, outside Tripoli in the Libyan Desert, consisted of two heats and a final, each over only four laps of the fast 26.2 km Mellaha dirt road circuit from Sghedeida - Fornaci - Sidi el Messri
- Porta Tagiura - Suk el Giuma - Mellaha - Sghedeida. It was the last time that the old dusty route was used for staging the Tripoli Grand Prix and although considered a minor event, the Maserati factory sent two cars.
Libya had been under Italian rule since 1911 and the Tripoli Grand Prix was the first of 12 races counting towards the 1930 Italian Automobile Championship. Consequently it was a national race with only 12 drivers, all
Italians, to contest this 104.8 km sprint race which compared poorly with the preceding 419 km endurance races.
AUTOMOBIL-REVUE reported that the strict regulations forced the racing committee to revoke the entries of several drivers. Altogether only 12 race drivers had fulfilled the regulations. According to Valerio Moretti's account,
Corrado Filippini placed the fault with the new regulations to run the race over two short heat races and a same length final instead of the 419 km races staged in the past. The cars were divided into two categories, up to
1500 cc and over 1500 cc. The 1500 cc category was headed by Brilli-Peri and Biondetti in Materassi Talbots, Nenzioni with a Bugatti, Fagioli in a Salmson and Cerami and Sirignano with Maseratis. The second category comprised
two entries by the Maserati factory with a 16-cylinder 4-liter V4 for team leader Borzacchini and a 2-liter car for Arcangeli. Valerio Moretti wrote that the entry of the large Maserati V4 on the fast Tripoli Circuit was a good
trial for their planned start at the high speed Indianapolis 500 on May 30. Varzi started with a 2000 Bugatti, the double starter Nenzioni and Toti in 2-liter Maseratis and Gola drove a 2300 Bugatti. The Alfa Romeo Works had
planned to enter two of the Alfa Romeo P2 with the very latest revisions for Varzi and Brilli-Peri in recognition of their valuable race wins in the past season with the 1925 model P2. But since the modified P2's were not yet
ready in time and were still being rebuilt in the factory, both drivers resorted to the cars already mentioned.
Gastone Brilli-Peri, who had won here the previous year with the Talbot, was the favorite. AUTOMOBIL-REVUE stated in their race preview, that without a doubt Borzacchini had the fastest car, but it did not mean that he would have
an easy victory. Besides some demanding high speed turns, the circuit also presented other difficult stretches. In addition to the straight sections which were completely smooth, the drivers faced places where the road was
undulating. In these stretches success relied upon the road-holding of the car and the expertise of the driver, but not on maximum speed. In their preview La Stampa concluded that a victory for Borzacchini was expected. His
16-cylinder Maserati had already proved in practice that the car was the most powerful and, barring unforeseen circumstances, would not have to fear the challenge of other competing vehicles. In any event, Borzacchini made the
fastest practice times.
On Saturday Brilli-Peri had planned to do four practice laps testing both Talbots and a new fuel mixture. La Stampa reported that in the early afternoon, just after one o'clock, on his fourth lap the accident occurred in a
slight curve, the very fast Suk el Giuma turn, just outside the little village a few kilometers from Mellaha. Brilli Peri passed that point at about 180 km/h and was definitely going flat out in fourth gear through the turn,
where others used third. In making the curve, which is very gentle and not dangerous, he kept to the left side of the turn where there was a hump on the inside edge. As the tire marks showed, Brilli-Peri had taken a little too
narrow a turn causing the left front wheel to hit the hump. His car reared up and he was catapulted out, striking his head on the hard ground, fracturing his skull and instantly killing him. His Talbot was stopped by a low wall
of a nearby station house and was heavily damaged. The car itself showed no signs of damage to the steering system or tires, and the brakes were in good condition.
La Stampa further described that those from the country within a hundred meters away had heard the crash without seeing, given the slight curve, ran immediately to the scene but could do nothing to help the poor driver,
neither could the aids of the nearby aid station who unfortunately had to see that it was instant death. The blow was so violent, that part of the brain matter was spilled. The battered body of Brilli-Peri was mercifully
lifted and transported immediately to the nearest police station, where a makeshift mortuary was provisionally put up . In a very short time his body was literally covered with flowers. Practice was immediately suspended.
After the tragic loss of Brilli-Peri, the race had lost much of its importance.
On Sunday it was warm and sunny but Brilli-Peri's sad death overshadowed the event. Despite his teammate's tragic accident, Clemente Biondetti decided to race in Brilli-Peri's honor. The small cars up to 1.5-liter lined up in
Biondetti was never challenged and won the race with ease. The main interest lay with Prince Cerami and Prince Sirignano from Naples, two friends who were engulfed in a fierce wheel to wheel battle with their 1.5-liter Maseratis.
According to Valerio Moretti's account, at one point Sirignano's goggles were shattered by a stone flung up by Cerami's Maserati when he moved over the edge of the road. Sirignano finished the race bleeding from a wound
above his eye. He put in a protest that he was baulked by his friend Cerami. It was then decided to demote the offender to third place. Fagioli finished last in the slowest car.
Results (Heat 1)
|1.||4||Clemente Biondetti||Scuderia Materassi||Talbot||700||1.5||S-8||4||45m30.0s|| |
|2.||6||Francesco Sirignano||Prince F. Sirignano||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8||4||48m45.5s||+ 3m15.5s|
|3.||12||Domenico Cerami||Prince D. Cerami||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8||4||48m33.6s *||+ 3m03.6s|
|4.||8||Cleto Nenzioni||C. Nenzioni||Maserati||26B||1.5||S-8||4||52m16.2s||+ 6m46.2s|
|5.||2||Luigi Fagioli||L. Fagioli||Salmson||1.1?||S-4||4||52m35.2s||+ 7m05.2s|
* driver demoted from second place.|
Fastest lap: Clemente Biondetti (Talbot) on lap 2 in 11m16.2s = 139.5 km/h (86.7 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 138.2 km/h (85.9 mph)
Nenzioni, who had raced his 1500 Bugatti in Heat 1, also entered Heat 2 with his 2000 Maserati. Six Category II cars lined up on the grid.
The heat was dominated by the two factory Maseratis. Varzi held third position for one lap but then had to retire his Bugatti with engine trouble. Gola gave up when the hood of his Bugatti came loose; it then rose up
and he was unable to see the road ahead until he brought his car to a halt. On the third lap Toti's Maserati lost the left rear wheel at high speed on a straight without serious consequences. At the finish it was
Borzacchini ahead of Arcangeli and Nenzioni.
Results (Heat 2)
|1.||16||Baconin Borzacchini||Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati||V4||4.0||V-16||4||43m56.0s|
|2.||14||Luigi Arcangeli||Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati||26B||2.0||S-8||4||44m24.6s||+ 28.6s|
|3.||18||Cleto Nenzioni||C. Nenzioni||Maserati||26B||2.0||S-8||4||46m59.4s||+ 3m03.4s|
|DNF||24||Raffaelli Toti||R. Toti||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8||2||lost a wheel|
|DNF||22||Emilio Gola||E. Gola||Bugatti||T35C||2.3||S-8||2||lost hood, crash|
|DNF||20||Achille Varzi||A. Varzi||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||1||engine|
Fastest lap: Baconin Borzacchini (Maserati) in 10m45.0s = 146.2 km/h (90.9 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 143.1 km/h (88.9 mph)
In the final race only six cars made the start. The grid line-up is unknown. At the finish the two factory Maseratis were again in the first two places, Borzacchini with the monstrous 16-cylinder V4 and Arcangeli with the
2-liter 26B, followed by Biondetti's 1.5-liter Talbot in third place. Nenzioni retired his Maserati after two laps, while the two 1.5-liter Maseratis of Cerami and Sirignano battled it out again, nose to tail in a cloud of dust.
On the last lap Sirignano finally passed Cerami. The Tripoli win marked Maserati's first victory in a grand prix race. At 146.5 km/h (91 mph) the dusty old Tripoli circuit was considered fast. In Europe, only the Montlhéry
banked track, the Brooklands and Sitges ovals and Cremona with 246.1 km/h (152.3 mph) were faster circuits.
|1.||16||Baconin Borzacchini||Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati||V4||4.0||V-16||4||42m54.4s|
|2.||14||Luigi Arcangeli||Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati||26B||2.0||S-8||4||43m25.4s||+ 31.0s|
|3.||4||Clemente Biondetti||Scuderia Materassi||Talbot||700||1.5||S-8||4||44m44.4s||+ 1m50.0s|
|4.||6||Francesco Sirignano||Prince F. Sirignano||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8||4||47m56.4s||+ 5m02.0s|
|5.||12||Domenico Cerami||Prince D. Cerami||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8||4||49m22.8s||+ 6m28.4s|
|DNF||18||Cleto Nenzioni||C. Nenzioni||Maserati||26B||2.0||S-8||2||spark plugs|
Fastest lap: Baconin Borzacchini (Maserati) in 10m28.0s = 150.2 km/h (93.3 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 146.5 km/h (91.1 mph)
Gastone Brilli-Peri - March 24, 1893 - March 22, 1930, winner of the 1929 Tripoli Grand Prix in the same 8-cylinder Talbot he drove on his last day, knew the circuit very well. On Saturday early afternoon, Brilli-Peri
was definitely going flat out in fourth gear through the fast Suk el Giuma turn, where others used third. He lost control. When the car overturned he was catapulted out and was killed on the spot.
Since there was apparently no plausible explanation for this crash, rumors spread that it was suicide. This then would explain why he only had a one way ticket to Tripoli. In reality the Italians were known to be superstitious
and Nuvolari, for example, was known never to buy a return ticket when he travelled outside Italy - be it ship, train or plane. Statements were made that the 37 year old popular Italian count suffered from spells of depression
and sentimental delusions. In reality Brilli-Peri was cheery at this time, assessing different types of fuel and driving both Talbots. He had just done an extremely fast lap prior to his accident, faster than anyone would do
in the race.
Twice before, at Tripoli and Tunis in 1929, Brilli-Peri had come to Africa and both times he had been victorious. Because of that, he was humorously called "Brilli, the African". On Monday, March 24, he would have celebrated
his 37th birthday. Aristocrats were mostly gentlemen drivers, but the Count was a pure professional who not only participated in races for fun, but who also had the will to win. This made him a hard, dashing driver, who applied
the power of his car at all the times. His driving style was characterized by over-steer and swerving, differing from the smooth, elegant driving style of Caracciola or Varzi.
Count Gastone Brilli-Peri was born in Montevarchi on March 24, 1893. Early on he raced motorcycles and started racing cars in 1920, first with a Nazarro and then a Fiat. He placed second at Mugello in 1922 and won several hill
climbs. During 1922 he added a Steyr for the Targa Florio, where he crashed about 15 km from Cerda, receiving serious injuries after completing three laps in eleventh place. He raced mainly the Steyr until the end of 1924.
He won at Mugello and Parma-Poggio di Berceto hill climb in a 4.5-liter Fiat. In August at the 15.5 km Coppa Pistoiese near Florence he set FTD in his 3-liter Diatto racing car and at the Montenero Circuit he drove fastest
lap before retiring his Diatto. In 1925 he joined the Alfa Romeo Factory team, culminating with his victory in the 1925 Italian Grand Prix, which won Alfa Romeo the World Championship. Between 1925 and 1927 he raced his
Ballot in some smaller events, winning the 1925 Perugia Cup and the Savio Circuit in 1926. The same year he drove an Itala at the Milan Grand Prix. In a P2 Alfa Romeo he placed second at Rome. In 1928 he drove for Bugatti,
with a second place in Rome and fourth at the Nürburgring. He was not too happy and had formed the opinion that his team mate, Louis Chiron, was given better cars. Disappointed, he left Bugatti in mid-season and changed to a
1.5-liter Alfa Romeo and also one of the 1.5-liter Talbots of Emilio Materassi's Ecurie Italienne. After Materassi's tragic death at Monza, Brilli-Peri drove one of the Talbots at several races in 1929, when the team was
renamed Scuderia Materassi. His most successful year was 1929 when the Italian was at the peak of his career. With the Talbot he won at Tripoli and Mugello. With Alfa Romeo he came third in the Targa Florio, second at
Rome, fifth in the Coppa Ciano, fourth in the Italian Grand Prix and won at Cremona and Tunis.
The Tripoli Grand Prix was to be his first race in 1930. On March 28 Brilli-Peri's remains were returned to Italy and arrived by train in Rome. Many relatives of the great driver, as well as prominent members of the AC
Roma were present. The doors to the car, containing coffin and flowers, were opened. Two large wreaths, one from the Royal Italian Automobile Club the other from the AC Roma, were placed on the coffin. The train continued
to Florence at 3:00 PM and reached Montevarchi the same evening. The authorities and the clubs came out again to pay their respects and a large crowd turned up. On Saturday the coffin was transported to Florence, where
Brilli-Peri's remains lay in state in the Capella Pura throughout Sunday. The Funeral, organized by the AC Florence, took place on Monday, March 31. He modestly called himself Brilli-Peri. His full title and name was
Count Gastone Brilli-Peri. Valerio Moretti wrote that Brilli-Peri's title "Count" was just a harmless idea since he was merely the son of a countess. This could mean that he was not legally a count. Italy had lost
another of its great drivers following in the wake of Ascari, Bordino and Materassi.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
La Stampa, Torino
Tutti in Automobile, Roma