We are looking at the front row of the grid before the start of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 13, 1953. Color motor racing photographs from the early 1950s are very rare because in those years few if any publishers would print in color. On pole at the left side of the image is the 1952 World Champion Alberto Ascari with a Ferrari 500F2. He had already to repeated his championship for 1953. In the middle getting a lot of attention from his mechanics is the 1951 World Champion (with Alfa Romeo) Juan Fangio with a Maserati A6GCM, the forerunner of the famous 250F which will appear in 1954. On the right is Giuseppe “Nino” Farina who was the 1950 World Champion, now in a Ferrari 500F2. Visible in the second row at the far right is Mike Hawthorn with another Ferrari 500F2.
The Scuderia Ferrari went all out with six works entries – four of the successful 500F2 and two of the new 553 “Squalo” which, it was hoped, would be their new car under the 2.5 liter formula coming in the next year. Maserati replied with seven entries, three from private owners with works support, and led by the redoubtable Juan Fangio. The rest of the field saw entries form HWM, Connaught, OSCA, Cooper (with Stirling Moss in an Alta-engined version) and Gordini, but none would be able to challenge the Ferraris and Maseratis on the power circuit that was Monza.
The race was a titanic battle between the four fastest cars, these being the Ferraris of Ascari and Farina versus the Maseratis of Fangio and his protegé Onofre Marimon who had qualified fourth fastest. They changed places several times each lap for lap after lap, leaving the rest of the field behind. Marimon had to make a stop for several laps to have his oil radiator repaired but rejoined among the three leaders to help out his mentor if he could. He is in the blue and yellow car just behind the leading trio at the left.
Starting the final lap the order was Ascari, Marimon, Farina and Fangio. When this group entered the final long Porfido corner, where the photo at the left was taken on an earlier lap, Ascari skidded on some oil and Marimon hit Ascari’s car, Farina tried to go around the outside only to also hit Ascari while Fangio, ever watchful for the mistakes of others, shot past on the inside to win by 1.4 seconds over a recovering Farina.
Photos by Yves Debraine ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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