The Adoration of the Crowd

Reg Parnell, Alfa Romeo, Silverstone, klemcoll

Here is Giuseppe “Nino” Farina with a huge winner’s wreath around his shoulders in the midst of a delighted crowd after the finish of the 1950 British Grand Prix on May 13, 1950. The race was held at Silverstone, using the former RAF airfield runways and access roads, and was the first race of the modern World Championship for Drivers. Farina had driven an Alfa Romeo 158 “Alfetta,” a prewar 1.5 liter straight eight cylinder supercharged design that would win the Formula 1 constructors’ championships in both 1950 and 1951 being competitive everywhere. In celebration of this important event, the British Royal Family was in attendance, with King George VI greeting the individual drivers before the race and the entire family watching it from a special stand opposite the pits.

Farina had led almost the entire race after starting from pole position. In second place was another Alfa 158, driven by  Luigi Fagioli, whose face is visible just behind Farina’s right shoulder with his goggles up on his forehead. In the white coveralls on Farina’s left is the well-known British driver Reg Parnell who had been given one of the four Alfettas in the race. Juan Fangio drove another Alfetta but retired with engine problems eight laps before the finish not long after having hit one of the many straw bales lining the course.

A total of 21 cars started the Grand Prix, consisting of Maserati 4CLT/48s, Talbot 26Cs and a few ERAs, but all were significantly slower than the Alfattas. Ferrari would not make a Grand Prix appearance until the Monaco race a week later, but they were still using a 1.5 liter supercharged V12 motor which did mot have the benefit of the Alfetta’s decade of intense development. But Ferrari would soon adopt a normally aspirated 4.5 liter V12 which would prove very competitive with the Alfa Romeos in 1951.

Photo by Tom March ©The Klemantaski Collection –

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