Tazio Nuvolari was the leading prewar Grand Prix driver. He also had great success in sports cars, winning the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio and the Le Mans 24 Hours, among many other races.
Here he is literally carried above the crowd after winning the Donington Grand Prix in England on October 22, 1938 with an Auto Union Type D. Nuvolari had led from the start, but lost considerable time in a pit stop to change spark plugs. In the later stages of the race he caught the leader, Mercedes driver Hermann Lang, breaking the lap record several times and then cruising to win by over a minute and a half, having put a lap or more on everyone else.
A film of the race at Donington can be seen here: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/international-grand-prix-at-donington
Whereas today many Grand Prix drivers start in karts, before World War II most Grand Prix drivers began by racing motorcycles and Nuvolari was adept at that sport, winning a European Championship. In 1931 he began racing cars full time and quickly became a driver for Alfa Corse, the Alfa Romeo factory team. When Alfa Romeo left its racing activities to Enzo Ferrari’s Scuderia Ferrari in Modena, Nuvolari followed but it was a sometimes tempestuous relationship. In 1938 he switched to Auto Union and continued with them until the war intervened. He raced on a more limited basis after the war, being then in declining health, almost won the Mille Miglia again in 1948 with a Ferrari, and died in 1953, at age 60. He always wore a yellow jersey with his initials on the right and his famous turtle pin on the left.
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection