Clemente Biondetti

Clemente Biondetti

18/8/1898 - 24/2/1955

Best on long distance endurance races, Clemente Biondetti won the Mille Miglia in 1938 and then three years running, from 1947 to 1949. He also won the Targa Florio in 1948 and 1949. He died from cancer in 1955

Biondetti was born into a working class family in a small village of Buddusò in the hills of northern Sardinia and grew up there. He was a late starter in racing as his career did not begin until his family moved to Florence in the 1920s. Biondetti then began racing motorcycles in 1923 but in 1927 turned to automobiles. By 1931 his performances, especially in Talbots, had earned him a spot in Grand Prix motor racing as a works driver for Maserati.

In 1934 he joined Gruppo San Giorgio to drive driving their Maserati 8CM and later their Maserati 4C-2500. His best finish was 5th in the Tripoli GP.

In 1936 he raced a private Siata and a Maserati 6C-34, in 1936 he would suffer from a string of retirements, but he would come 6th in Milan and 2nd in Modena, in a voiturette class race. 4th in the Mille Miglia driving an Alfa Romeo with Cerasa.

He started 1937 driving a Maserati Tipo 34 but switched to one of Enzo Ferrari's Alfa Romeo Tipo C. Though he finished 2nd in Naples, he failed to finish at Monaco or in Italy and as had been the case in previous seasons, his success on circuits was limited. That was not the case on the tough long distance endurance events like the Mille Miglia, where he was quite extrodinary.

In 1938, driving an Alfa Romeo 2900B with Stefani, Clemente won the Mille Miglia and at the Coppa Ciano, he finished second in the voiturette class then came third in the feature race.

In 1939, he came 3rd in the Coppa Ciano, 2nd in Swiss Grand Prix, 2nd in the Grand Prix du Centenaire in Luxembourg, and he won at the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara in an Alfa Romeo 158, beating Luigi Villoresi and Giuseppe Farina.

Like his fellow competitors, his career was put on hold by the outbreak of World War II in 1940 and by the time he resumed racing, he was already 49 years old. Nevertheless, he dominated Italian endurance racing, driving to victory in the Mille Miglia for three straight years from 1947 through 1949 and the Targa Florio in 1948 and 1949. He won more Mille Miglias than any other driver in history.

Biondetti drove for the works Jaguar team in 1950, coming 8th in the Mille Miglia in an XK120 with Bronzoni. He then drove a C-type at Le Mans with Leslie Johnson. Unable to get a competition Jaguar to race in Italy he ended up putting a 3.4 litre Jaguar 6 engine in his Ferrari 166S.

Clemente Biondetti participated in one Formula One race, the 1950 Italian Grand Prix. Driving his Ferrari-Jaguar, he went out after 17 laps with engine problems.

He continued to race sports cars in endurance events, taking second place in a Ferrari at the 12 Hours of Pescara in 1952

Biondetti then entered the car in the 1951 Mille Miglia, but ultimately withdraw. He still wanted a Jaguar C-type, but Jaguar were still refusing to give him one so he decided to make one! He built a tubular chassis with a sports body into which he installed an engine that was supplied by Jaguar along with+ a C-type grill. However the following year, 1952 he gave the car to Pezzoli and Cozzulani to race in the Mille Miglia.

Biondetti went back to Ferrari, coming 3rd in the 1952 Monaco Sports Car GP, as well as 2nd in the Acerbo Cup, a 12hr race at Pescara in Italy against much younger opposition.

In 1953 he raced Lancias but he returned to Ferrari again in 1954, finishing 4th in the Mille Miglia. By now he had been suffering from cancer for a number of years. He retired at the end of the year and died early in 1955 at 57 years of age.

Major Wins

  • Coppa Acerbo 1939
  • Mille Miglia 1938, 1947, 1948, 1949
  • Targa Florio 1948, 1949
 

hr

Leave a comment

Comments