On May 27, 1955 a non-Championship F1 race was held in the old Parco del Valentino in Turin. Lancia was there in force and here is the team relaxing before practice: on the left is Luigi Villoresi, next to him is team leader Alberto Ascari with the young lion Eugenio Castellotti listening carefully. Seated on the right wearing a hat is the famed prewar Alfa Romeo designer Vittorio Jano who created the ground-breaking Lancia D50 which will be used in this race.
Valentino Park was situated along the banks of the Po river in downtown Turin and dated from the mid-19th Century. As Italy’s fist public garden it represented a bucolic interlude within Turin. The concept of using the park’s wide curving roadways with their modest changes in elevation for automobile racing was a natural conclusion during the 1930s. The first Valentino Grand Prix was held in July 1935, and was won by Tazio Nuvolari driving an Alfa Romeo Tipo B entered by Scuderia Ferrari. However, there was no fixed design of the circuit which changed from year to year, often combining some roadways in the Park with city streets.
After the war years racing returned to Valentino in 1947 with a running of the Grand Prix of Valentino, won by the Alfa Romeo 158 of Achille Varzi. In 1948 Raymond Sommer drove a Ferrari 159S sports car to an important victory on the Valentino Park circuit. It was Ferrari’s first win.
The 1955 Grand Prix was the last race held at Valentino, now adapted to just over 2.6 miles in length. Ascari was fastest in practice, followed by Jean Behra’s works Maserati 250F. The other Lancias were a couple of seconds slower as were the Ferrari 555 “Squalos” which were driven by Giuseppe Farina, Harry Schell and Maurice Trintignant. In the race Ascari was easily the winner, as seen here, with Maserati’s Roberto Mieres taking second some 27 seconds behind, followed by the Lancias of Villoresi and Castellotti.
Today Valentino Park is still there, but with no remaining vestiges of its once important racing history.
Photos from Archivio Corrado Millanta ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
To see more of our photographs please go to: http://www.klemcoll.com/TheGallery.aspx