Giovanni Bracco

Giovanni Bracco

6/6/1908 - 6/8/1968

Bracco was a very talented Italian racing driver who never fully realised his potential. he won a number of important races, his most memorable being the Mille Miglia in 1952.

He was one of the fastest Lancia Aprilia drivers in touring car racing before the war. Afterthe war he was owner of a 3L Delage 6-cylinder and an AGGCS Maserati 2L sportscar. He was also a great hill climb driver.

In 1947 he came 9th in the Mille Miglia driving a FIAT 1100 S Berlinetta with Renato Balestrero. Then in September at the Modena meeting Bracco lost control of his Delage during the race and crashed into the crowd, killing five spectators and injuring several others. The race was stopped and the new Maserati A6GCS's of Villoresi and a young Alberto Ascari, in the early stages of his distinguished career, which were leading at the time, were awarded first and second.

Bracco was not responsable for the accident, but its memory always haunted him and when he resumed racing at Pescara in 1948, he stopped after two laps, as he couldn't handle seeing of the stands full of spectators.

After a long break from driving, Bracco found himself more at ease in coupé-bodied cars, winning his class (4th overall) in the 1950 Mille Miglia with young Maglioli in a Ferrari 166 M.M. Barchetta Touring.

In 1951 he drove a Lancia to many class wins, amongst them Le Mans, driving with Lurani (1st in class, 12th overall), and a miraculous second overall and first in class at the Mille Miglia in 1951 with Umberto Maglioli driving a Lancia Aurelia B20 two liter, beaten only by Gigi Villoresi in the four litre Ferrari "340 America". He also still drove a Ferrari, winning the Circuito of Vila Real in Portugal.

In 1952 thanks to the magnificent display the previous year, Bracco had at his disposal a three litre Ferrari 250 S Vignale saloon. Bracco, however, was not considered a member of the Ferrari team and therefore didn't get any works support and due to his financial position, his budget didn't even stretch to spare tyres! While everyone was predicting a victory for Taruffi or Caracciolo, to the everyone's surprise Bracco was second at Siena, 12 minutes behind Kling's Mercedes 300SL. While the officials were stamping his race docket in Florence, Bracco asked for a flask of Cognac. He flew through the fog which wrapped around the passes of Futa and Ratiscosa. He fell on Bologna like a madman. Leading now by one minute, he had managed to take eight minutes off Kling, risking everything through the Apennines.

Only then, with the works drivers out of the race, did Enzo Ferrari order any help for Bracco and, above all, tyres. The hardy driver from Biella was thus able to hold onto his advantage until the finish at Brescia. He won by four minutes, driving the last surviving car from Maranello. It was one of those drives that greatly appeal to the general public, a comeback victory in appalling weather conditions in the last red car, drinking cognac and chain-smoking, brushing aside the threat of the mighty Silver Arrows.

He also won the Coppa Acerbo driving with Paolo Marzotto in a Ferrari 250S. The 150 mile race was held over a 15 mile circuit beginning and ending at Pescara, Italy, a city on the Adriatic coast.

In the Carrera Panamerica of 1952 it was generally accepted that Alberto and Bracco, in 12 cylinder "Mexican Model" Ferraris, were the favorites. However Ascari went out early on, and it was the small French Gordini, driven by the ex-champion motorcyclist Jean Behra, racing Without a co-driver, that handled the treacherous mountain roads best and won the fist stage to Oaxaca at an average speed of 143 km/h. Bracco was second, and Kling third. On the second day Behra was the first away on the stage to Puebla. However Behra lost control of the Alpine on a right hand bend on a sharp descent following a long straight. The Gordini left the road and would have plunged into a 25m deep ravine, only the rock wall and a few centimeters kept him from falling into the stream below. Berah escaped a serious injury but was sent to the hospital in Puebla. Bracco now had a lead of one minute over the Germans. Bracco continued fight hard against the Mercedes of Kling, Klenk, Lang and American John Fitch.

At the start of the last but one stage on the forth day with a lead of 3.45 minutes in a act of true sportsmanship, he informed the Mercedes-Benz crew via his friend Günther Molter that his Ferrari was unlikely to make it to the finishing line. The car's power transmission was going to pieces. And so it was that Bracco had to watch his rivals pass by him. First Kling, than Lang, followed by the American John Fitch from Stamford in the open Mercedes. However it was Luigi Chinetti who took third place as Fitch was disqualified for a minor infraction of the rules.

In the 1954 La Carrera Panamericana driving a Ferrari 750 Monza (0470M) entered by the Hotel del Prado he wash disqualified for being over the time limit.

After a poor showing at the 1955 Imola Sports Car GP, where Bracco crashed, the Maserati 200S re-appeared at the Targa Florio. Driven by Bracco and Franco Bordoni it was fitted with the rigid rear axle. However they were forced to retire when Bracco crashed again, twice both in practice and in the race! The race was won by a Maserati, an A6GCS driven by Francesco Giardini.

Bracco, already in bad health, drove his personal Ferraris for a few more seasons and died in 1968.

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