Franco Rol

Franco Rol

5/6/1908 - 18/6/1977

Rol was a wealthy Italian aristocrat and an enthusiastic and charming gentleman racer who made more of a mark in sports cars than in single-seater competition prefering to drive closed sports cars wearing silk shirts rather than racing overalls.

Franco Rol was born in Turin. He was a wealthy Italian aristocrat and an enthusiastic and charming gentleman racer. Rol made more of a mark in sports cars than in single-seater competition prefering to drive closed sports cars wearing silk shirts rather than racing overalls.

Rol purchased an Alfa 6C2500 Competizione with a special short-chassis with which he tackled the classic road races in the late forties. In 1948 he led the Giro de Sicilia with it before retiring, but fared better the following season, when he finished second to Biondetti's Ferrari, after being delayed for five minutes at a closed level crossing. He also drove the Alfa in the Mille Miglia four times, finishing third in 1949. After leading most of the way from Rome, he hit a house, and ended up behind Biondetti and Bonetto in Barchetta Ferraris. After a number of good results in minor Italian events during the rest of 1949 including a win at Pescara, he again appeared in the works Alfa coupe for the Giro di Sicilia in 1950 where he retired after leading, and the 1950 Mille Miglia alongside Fangio in a similar car. Fangio finished third, but Rol, ran off the road after his brakes failed.

In 1950 he joined up with Chiron to race in the Platé Maseratis, but the A6GCM's were by then well past their best. In the Monaco Grand Prix in 1950 the race was marred by a large accident on the first lap when a freak wave flooded the track at the Tabac Corner. Nino Farina who was running second, spun and crashed while Fangio, who was leading, just managed to get through. Everyone else either tried to stop take evasive action, but eight more drivers crashed and retired including Roll. None of them were seriously injured though Rol missed the next race in Switzerland as a result and José Froilán González, who damaged his Maserati in the pile-up and was running second, but then crashed on the second lap. His car caught fire and González escaped with burns to his hands.

Rol also raced at the French, Italian and the San Marino Grands Prix's, managing to finishing fifth at San Marino at the Ospedaletti track.

In 1951 he failed to finish in the Mille Miglia and later he had another single seater drive at Monza with the new OSCA 4500G. It was hopelessly outclassed on its debut but, undaunted, he reappeared with the car at the beginning of 1952 in the Valentino GP, where he retired with a blown gasket. He reverted to Maserati again at Monza in 1952 in an expanded works Maserati driver line-up for the Italian GP. However he retired on the 24th lap.

In 1952 in the Mille Miglia, he drove a Siata 2-litre to eleventh overall and third in class behind two Ferrari 166 Barchettas. 

In 1953 he purchased a Ferrari 250 MM Competizi-one Berlinett (0250MM) and in this car Rol’s racing career was brought to an end. Competing in the 1953 Giro di Sicilia, he suffered serious injuries. The car was repaired by Pinin Farina with the revised covered headlight nose it still has, and was recently sold in auction for $1,430,000.00

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