Emilio Materassi

Emilio Materassi

1/11/1889 - 9/10/1928

Italian Grand prix driver who won the Targa Florio in 1927. He was killed in 1928 along with 27 spectators when he crashed on the 17th lap of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

<div>Emilio Materassi was born in Borgo San Lorenzo situated in the hills near Mugello, Italy. His family were involved in the wine industry as well as trading in rope.

 
Emilio began working in a bicycle shop and later went to work in a garage where he developed his mechanical abilities and his passion for cars.
 
In his twenties he took over the family business but, due to the economic situation, the company folded and Emilio found work as a driver for the SITA Bus company.
 
He made his racing debut at the Gran Premio Gentlemen at Brescia on September 11, 1921, driving an Itala 55 but retired after just three laps.  On June 18 the following year he finished 8th in the Circuito del Mugello held on rough public roads driving an Itala 51.
 
The following year with the help of some wealthy friends he opened his own garage, L’Autogarage Nazionale, at 12 Via dei Poggi, Florence and became a dealer for Itala.
 
He built his first racing car based on an old Isotta-Fraschini chassis with Itala body work and fitted an ex-airplane Hispano Suiza motor which he had modified. The car was initially called the 'Itala Special' but was then nicknamed the 'Italona' or the the big Itala due to it's weight of over two tons! However when Materassi painted it bright yellow it became know as 'Canarona', the big canary!
 
His racing consisted mainly of hillclimbs and driving the Itala in 1924 he won the Coppa della Collina Pistoiese, the Coppa Perugina, also setting the fastest lap, and the Coppa della Consuma. He also finished second behind Antonio Ascari’s works Alfa Romeo in the Parma-Poggio di Berceto hillclimb, 3rd in the Vermicino-Rocca di Papa hillclimb and 4th in the Circuito del Mugello.
 
In February 1925 he finished second behind Carlo Masetti’s Bugatti in the Gran Premio di Roma, setting the fastest lap in the process and in May he won the Circuito del Savio. A second in the Coppa della Perugina behind Gastone Brilli Peri in the Ballot Indy was followed by a win in the Circuito del Mugello. He was leading the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara when he was forced to retire with tyre problems. In August he won the Circuito del Montenero and in September driving a Diatto GP in the Gran Premio d'Italia, he retired with mechanical problems. He also took wins at the Circuito del Montenero at Livorno and the Coppa della Collina Pistoiese.
 
In 1926 still driving the Itala Special, he suffered suspension failure in the Premio Reale di Roma and posted another DNF in the Coppa Vinci driving a Maserati 26. In August he set the fastest lap in the Coppa Acerbo with the Itala but once again failed to finish. Things finally started to look up a week later when he won the Circuito del Montenero but it was another DNF early in September in the Gran Premio d'Italia
at Monza and again in the Gran Premio di Milano a week later. He won his second Circuito del Mugello held in a park in Florence and also won the the Coppa Perugina for the second time. He took his third win at the Coppa della Collina Pistoiese and drove a Maserati 1500 in the Kilometro Lanciato sprint at Rimini, beating Luigi Fagioli in a similar car.
 
His best season came in 1927 driving a works Bugatti T35C. He won the Gran Premio di Tripoli in early March and the Targa Florio on April 24th. He won the Coppa della Perugina in May but retired in the Premio Reale di Roma the following month when he crashed having set the fastest lap. He was however back to his winning ways a week later at the Premio di Bologna and the Gran Premio de San Sebastian in July. He crashed again the Gran Premio de España at San Sebastian and retired from the Coppa Acerbo. His next win came at the Circuito del Montenero and at the RAC (British) Grand Prix at Brooklands, Materassi led off the start but was passed by Divo's Talbot and the Delage's of Bourlier and Benoist, ending up fifth at the finish.
 
At the start of 1928 he pressured Ettore Bugatti to let him become the works team manager but to no avail so he formed his own team, Scuderia Materassi, and purchased four Talbot 700's from the now bankrupt Talbot team to add to his personal Bugatti T35C. Materassi modified the engines and the chassis, making them some 30 kilograms lighter. Luigi Arcangeli joined the scuderia along with Antonio Brivio, Gastone Brilli-Peri and Gianfranco Comotti.
 
The team entered two Chrysler Series 72 cars in the Mille Miglia. Emilio Materassi drove with Rodolfo Caruso, nephew of the great tenor Enrico Caruso, and Manuel de Teffé shared the other entry with Maria Antonietta Avanzo, the first woman to compete in the race. Unfortunately both cars failed to finish.
 
The team's Grand prix debut was due in Tripoli at Mellaha Lake on March 31st but all three Talbots were disqualified after a protest from Tazio Nuvolari over their single seat configuration. It was thus another three weeks before they raced at the Circuito di Alessandria. Sadly a cloud was cast over the race when Pietro Bordino was killed in a practice accident. A dog became entangled in the front suspension jamming the steering. His car took off and landed upside down in the Tanaro river with Borodino being killed on impact. In the race, renamed the Gran Premio Bordino, Materassi finished 4th and Arcangeli, who had been running a close second to Nuvolari when he he spun off into a bridge, managed to get going again but then ran out of fuel later in the race.
 
At the Circuito di Mugello on June 3rd the team took their first win with Materassi taking the honors (his third win in the race). A week later Materassi finished 3rd in the Premio Reale di Roma at Tre Fontane behind the Bugatti's of Louis Chiron and Gastone Brilli-Peri, and on the 24th of June it was Arcangeli's turn, winning the Circuito di Cremona. Materassi was also on the podium in 3rd.
 
In August at the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, Luigi Arcangeli suffered facial injuries when he was hit by a stone thrown up by another car. Forced to retire, Materassi, who had himself already dropped out with mechanical problems, took over and in a fine drive made his way back through the field to finish second, closing in on the winner Giuseppe Campari's Alfa Romeo P2. Later the same month he won his fourth Coppa Ciano at the Circuito del Montenero, beating both Nuvolari and Giuseppe Campari.
 
Materassi won the Circuito del Montenero ahead of Nuvolari and Campari and Arcangeli won the Circuito di Senigallia driving the Bugatti T35C and went on to set FTD at the Kilometro Lanciato.
 
In August at the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, Luigi Arcangeli suffered facial injuries when he was hit by a stone thrown up by another car. Forced to retire, Materassi, who had himself already dropped out with mechanical problems, took over and in a fine drive made his way back through the field to finish second, closing in on the winner Giuseppe Campari's Alfa Romeo P2. Later the same month he won his fourth Coppa Ciano at the Circuito del Montenero, beating both Nuvolari and Giuseppe Campari.
 
Then on the 9th September, a terrible accident occurred at the Gran Premio d'Italia at Monza. Arcangeli had set the fastest lap of 3 minutes 37.4 seconds at 165.59 kph, but on lap 17 Materassi crashed as he was overtaking Giulio Foresti’s Bugatti 35C on the main straight. He clipped one of the rear tyres of the Bugatti and his car swerved to the left, flew over a four-meter wide ditch and a fence before it plunged into the crowd. Materassi and twenty spectators were killed instantly. Luigi Arcangeli, Antonio Brivio, Gastone Brilli-Peri and Gianfranco Comotti, all Scuderia Materassi drivers, withdrew. Another spectator died of his injuries three days later bringing the toll to 22 making it the worst motorsport tragedy until the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hour race. The race did continue and was won by Louis Chiron driving a Bugatti 37A however the race was cancelled for the next two years.
 
Because of this when Grand Prix racing returned to Monza, the races were initially confined to the high-speed loop. When the 1933 race was marred by the deaths of three drivers, the Grand Prix layout was changed and two chicanes were added and the longer straights removed.
 
For 1929 Arcangeli continued to race the Talbot 700 for Scuderia Materassi. At the Gran Premio di Tripoli in March he retired with a broken differential and also failed to finish the Circuito di Alessandria in April, going out around half distance. A better result followed in May at the Premio Reale di Roma at the Circuito Tre Fontana where he finished 4th overall and won the voiturette class.
 
He drove a Bugatti 37A in the Circuito di Mugello in June but retired with a broken oil pipe but, back in the Talbot, he finished fourth in the Coppa Ciano in July. He won his Voiturette heat for the Gran Premio di Monza in September but went out of the final on lap 21 of 22 with ignition problems. He rounded out the season later in the month with another Voiturette class win and fourth overall in the Circuito di Cremona.
 
He drove for the works Maserati team for 1930 and for Alfa Corse in 1931. He died on 23rd May that year trying to qualify the twin engined prototype Tipo A monoposto in the Italian Grand Prix.

historicracing.com

Leave a comment

Comments