Mario Alborghetti

Mario Alborghetti

23/10/1928 - 11/4/1955

Wealthy amateur racer from Milan who commissioned his own racing car for top level racing after just four minor races. He crashed fatally in his first Grand Prix at Pau.

Mario Alborghetti was a wealthy gentleman racer from Milan. He is remarkable in that he basically entered a Formula One race with no previous experience. He had only competed in four minor events before commissioning his own racecar and entering the Pau Grand Prix in 1955.

The son of a wealthy textile manufacturer, Alborghetti started racing in 1950 in a Fiat Topolino. The following year he won the Argegno-Lanzo d’Intelvi hillclimb near Como driving a Lancia Aprilia.

For 1953 he drove for Lancia Corse in the Susa-Moncenisio hillclimb, taking 3rd in class. He also raced in the Coppa Sant’Ambroeus sports car race at Monza and the similar sports car road races, the Giro di Sicilia and the Coppa della Toscana

With a view to racing in Formula One in 1954 he commissioned Gianpaolo Volpini and Egidio Arzani to build a car for him along "Squalo" lines. Volpini used his money to acquire one of the ex-Scuderia Milano 1950 Maserati 4CLTs and set about modifying it for the new engine formula introduced that year.With a reworked chassis, the Maserati engine's capacity increased from 1.5 to 2.5-litres and new bodywork by Carrozzeria Colli the car, now called the Arzani-Volpini was ready the following year.

Built in Milan it had a twin-cam four-cylinder engine with eight plugs and four single choke Webers, a four-speed gearbox on the back axle, double wishbone suspension with torsion bars and trailing link rear suspension with a transverse leaf spring.

He was due to race in the VII Gran Premio del Valentino on the 27 March 1955 at Valentino Park, Italy, but the car was not ready.

Two weeks later, in April, he arrived in Pau for the Grand Prix. Alborghetti, with only sports car experience behind him, was very slow in practice. His times were similar to Storez and Armagnac in their notoriously slow supercharged DB monomilles and some ten seconds slower than the next fastest qualifier.

In the race he was no quicker and he had already made three pit stops by lap 19 when he crashed heavily into the straw bales at the tight Station corner. It is a mystery as to what actually happened. Though reports say that Alborghetti was braking for the tight Station hairpin when Pollet went by on the inside to lap him.

The suggestion that Pollet was involved is quite likely as he would have been overtaking Mario on the inside at that point. What happened next is unclear but it appeared that Alborghetti accelerated suddenly and crashed straight into the straw bales at speed. His helmet came off and he died almost instantly from breaking his neck. He was killed and nine spectators were injured.

The car itself was actually not badly damaged and the team appeared again at the Italian GP at Monza in September with Luigi Piotti due to drive. However the car did not even take part in qualifying.

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