Tenni was one of the greatest motorcycle racers of his era. In the mid 30s Tenni tried car racing. He made a great debut in the Mille Miglia but never really showed the same passion as he did on two wheels. He died after crashing during practice for the motorcycle race at the 1948 Swiss GP.
Tommaso Omobono Tenni was one of the greatest motorcycle racers of his era. Nicknamed The Black Devil, he was a multiple Italian Motor Cycle champion, who won 47 races for Moto Guzzi between 1933 and 1948,
Born in Tirano in northern Lombardy, Italy, he came from a poor peasant family. They moved to Treviso after WWI, when he was 15 year old and he went to work as an apprentice mechanic in a motorcycle workshop.
Four years later, in 1914, he opened his own workship and started competing on motorcycles, winning his first race later that year.
Restricted by having to race on a very tight budget, it was not until 1931 that members of his local motorcycle club got together to raise the money to buy a Velocette 350. On it he finished third in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and then won the Grand Prix Reale in Rome.
In 1932 he beat Moto Guzzi's works rider, Pietro Ghersi, in a race at Rapallo. Moto Guzzi took note and offered him a works ride for 1933.
Riding Moto Guzzi's new 500cc V twin 500 cc he won the Italian Grand Prix in 1934 ahead of his team-mate, Stanley Woods. He went on to win the Italian 500cc National Championship.
In 1935 he made his first visit to the Isle of Man TT and was lying in second to team-mate, Stanley Woods, when he crashed in fog on the mountain section. He once again won the 500cc Italian title.
In 1936 he tried his hand at motor racing making his debut in the Mille Miglia, winning his class and finishing fifth overall. He came second behind Count Trossi in the Voiturette ADAC Eifelrennen at the Nurburgrind in June and in 1937, he became a works Maserati driver but never enjoyed it as much as racing on two wheels.
Motorcycles continued to be his passion and in 1937, riding in the Lightweight class, he became the first Italian to win the TT on the Isle of Man.
After being injured in 1938 and 1940, World War II came along and put a halt to all racing in Europe.
After the war, in 1947, he claimed his fourth Italian 500cc title. He led the 1948 Isle of Man TT, setting the fastest lap before dropping back to 9th with mechanical problems.
He was killed in a crash during practice for the 1948 Swiss Moto GP at Bremgarten on the same weekend as Achille Varzi's also crashed fatally.