The period is that of the rise of Italian Fascism and Italian people are slowly getting their own cars. Fiat ‘Balilla’ is born in 1932. Its name reminds the youth organization of government, Mussolini takes advantage of the period of growth and literally ‘orders’ the Company of Turin to manufacture FIAT 500, a popular car, better known as ‘ Topolino’.
There is a technological challenge on top of car industry, on international field : Hitler appeals to the nationalistic feeling and urges Mercedes and Auto Union to strengthen the prestige of the emerging ‘Big Germany’ in the sports cars field. The challenge greatly involves the Italian car industry and both Alfa Romeo and Maserati get excellent international results. Italian fans are shared between the two Companies and between two big rivals: Tazio Nuvolari, a determined and brave popular hero, follower of the Regime and Achille Varzi, a champion of style and dignity. The challenge gets burning when Varzi goes over to the ‘enemy’.
On that background Bergamo is in the limelight of high level sport motor racing and organizes the first race in a circuit in the Venetian Walls thanks to the spur of Sir Maurizio Reich and the Noble Angelo Zineroni, chairman and director of Automobil Club supported by Commendator Renzo Castagneto from Brescia, who, thanks to Mille Miglia Race has proved to be a reliable and skilful organizer.
The City of Bergamo Cup is soon successful so Ferrari Company enters four Alfa Romeo cars and Maserati five cars, two of which are official cars, and two cars from Subalpina Company. The preparation proceeds quickly: the road track is entirely covered with a bitumen layer, the event is largely advertised. Streets and shopwindows are covered with posters showing a sketched racing car over the outline of Porta San Giacomo reading ‘ leaps and roars around the silent acropolis’, so the race on the Walls circuit is the first speed race to be played in 1935.
The money prizes are considerable: the total amount is 45,000 Lire, 14,550 of which will be given to the winner together with the imposing ‘City of Bergamo ‘ Cup and the Gold Medal of the ‘Duce’. A cannon shot invites the drivers to start the engines, meanwhile a corps of motorcyclist soldiers loudly pours onto the starting point square: it’s the escort of His Royal Highness the Duke of Bergamo; the notes of the ‘Royal March’ and ‘Youth’ can be heard on the background, the Duke, holding a light blue flag, is going to start the competition.
The accounts of the time write: “the competition starts and the formation shows Nuvolari and Farina in the first row, in front of Comotti from Bergamo, Soffietti and Siena. The circuit winds along the ‘Walls perimeter: Piazzale S.Agostino, Mura della Fara, Piazzale S.Agostino for a length of 2.920 Km, 70 laps to drive for a total distance of 204.400 Km. The public is large, in spite of the payment of the entrance ticket. They say a crowd of 20 thousand people is there and 1,500 cars are parked everywhere”.
Tazio Nuvolari springs and is in the lead, followed by Nino Farina, the only one able to keep with him, even if his Maserati has got the disadvantage of a smaller and less powerful engine. ‘Nivola’ thrills the 20,000 fans crowded along the course and drives recklessly lapping all the rivals, he reaches the finishing line all alone. He is rewarded by the Duke of Bergamo with the Trophy prize, and he rewards the people of Bergamo saying : “ You’ve got a sublime circuit, it’s even better than the Montecarlo one “.
Bergamo, on May 2011, the magic happens again and the ancient Venetian Walls enjoy watching the beauty of the cars speeding in front of them.
Bergamo Historic Gran Prix
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