Auto Racing in Italy

Sleek, red race cars that zip around hair pin turns. The Italian Grand Prix is a nerve-racking test of speed and endurance at Monza in Lake Como, Italy is truly unrivaled by any other stop on the Formula One trail. The locals call it “la pista magica” — the magic race track. You may opt for a simpler term: awesome.

These days in Italy at Lake Como may be better as a hang out for George Clooney, but each September everyone’s attention is focused on this 3.585-mile road course – where drivers attack the Grand Prix and spit in face of the grim reaper.

There may be no other sport in history where the unspoken desire is to see if the drivers will make it through the course in one piece. They’ll be jubilation if they escape death and hushed tones of despair if the worst occurs. And believe me, there have been some tremendous accidents during the Monza weekend.

Up until the mid 1950’s, Monza is the place where racing’s worst accident had occurred, Emilio Materassi crashed his Talbot opposite the pits in 1928, killing himself and 27 spectators. In 1961, Wolfgang von Trips cart wheeled into the crowd after a brush with Jim Clark killing himself and 13 others. In 1933, top drivers Giuseppe Campari, his protege Baconin Borzacchini and the Czech aristocrat Stanislas Czaykowski all died on the same weekend.

And each year the stories grow.

The Monza track has been rebuilt on several occasions, but the basic design is much as it was in the course’s heyday in the 1920’s. The original flat banking has replaced by the not-to-be-believed high banking that can still be seen today. While standing on that banking you will know why some of the most fearless drivers in the world lost their nerve.

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The cars, the drivers, and their ever-present dance-with-death.

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