Braking Hard!

Nino Farina, Alfa Romeo, klemcoll

After the war years there was a non-championship Grand Prix held in Geneva on a short urban course known as the Circuit de Sécheron in 1946, 1948 and 1950. These were the years of the Alfettas, the all-conquering 158, developed from its prewar version, now with two-stage supercharged motors producing at or above 400 hp. The year 1950 was the first for the new World Championship and the the winner of the Championship was Giuseppe (“Nino”) Farina, seen above in this Swiss event. Farina was a great one for expressions as here braking hard.

The race entry at Geneva for the race on July 30 had four Alfettas for Farina, Juan Manuel Fangio, Emanuel de Graffenried and Piero Taruffi. Most of the rest were Maserati 4CLT/48s, but Ferrari sent two of their older F1 chassis, both fitted with new normally aspirated motors, one having a 3.3 liter V12 for Luigi Villoresi and the other, for Villoresi’s close friend Alberto Ascari, having a 4.1 liter version. Ferrari was moving toward the full unblown 4.5 which would eventually prove superior to the 1.5 liter blown Alfas. The F1 race was preceded by races for sports cars and F2 cars on a circuit which had been shortened due to concern that the narrow roads and very high speeds might cause a serious incident. Those fears were well-founded.

Ascari’s Ferrari gave him a strong race, closely pursuing Fangio who led all the way to the finish. The semi-prfessional Swiss driver de Graffenried then came through to finish second, primarily as a result of retirements, some caused by a significant accident. Ascari had worked his Ferrari hard to keep up with Fangio and late in the race retired with water coming out of the exhaust. Not long thereafter Villoresi skidded on oil spilled by another car, went into some straw bales, through the wooden spectator fence behind them and overturned, the accident killing three spectators and injuring about 20 others, including the driver. Farina then spun on the same oil plus that from Villoresi’s crash, hit the curbing and broke his front suspension, forcing his retirement.  This shocking late race tragedy caused the end of racing in Geneva.

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection –

To see more photos from our archive go to:


  1. Farina was really on a roll,,winning British Grand Prix in May, then winning another
    in Swiss event, then at Bari, Silverstone again in summer and then season end
    at Monza,.!

    Not bad for an old guy of 44…

    Jim Sitz


  2. What a wonderful time it was to be a photographer and watch your heroes working in there office. Hands correct, 10 and 2, proper stern expression and an up-right posture. In those days you could nearly see the entire drive in action. Now we see a dark face mask and the top of a helmet. It’s good to look back.


  3. Michael Vivian · · Reply

    Wow! Beautiful shot, but his whole body is vulnerable in a rollover.

    Sent from my iPhone



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: