Be it Formula 1, the touring car series or other motorsport ventures, Alfa Romeo has a sporting heritage that spans the brand's first centenary. Here are some key highlights.
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The "Corsa" version of the 24 HP made its debut at Targa Florio 1911 with brilliant results. Nino Franchini's exploit stood out although he was forced to withdraw from the race when he was in the lead because of a trivial accident (he was blinded by a splash of mud in the eyes).
For the 1921 racing season, the power of the 1914 Grand Prix engine was upgraded from 88 to 102 HP. At the 1921 Gentlemen di Brescia GP, Campari, who led the race from the 11th to 24th lap was forced to withdraw near the finish line because water was leaking from his radiator. 1921 also marked the racing debut of the 20-30 HP in an ES Sport version. Victory was immediate: driven by Ascari and Sivocci at the Parma-Poggio Berceto (1st and 2nd place) in the 4.5 L category.
A memorable year. The red racing RLs reaped one success after the next: Masetti won at Mugello and Sivocci, Ascari and Masetti came in first, second and fourth in the prestigious Sicilian Targa Florio race. Sivocci's RL was the first to sport the four-leaf clover emblem, the symbol of Alfa racing cars. Ascari won again in Cremona, Sivocci came first in a Turismo race at Monza. The more accessibly priced RM, which used many parts of the RL, was introduced to the public one year later.
Designed by Jano, the Tipo B, subsequently named the P3 in homage to the P2, was slender, graceful and packed with technical innovations. The most original were a differential on the gearbox output and two propeller shafts arranged in a V-shape that transmitted drive to the rear wheels with the divers cockpit located in the middle. Its debut at Monza marked yet another triumph for Alfa Romeo: Nuvolari's car came in first at 167.52 km/h. Six units were produced.
Good looking and unbeatable. The 158 "Alfetta", the legendary single-seater designed by Gioacchino Colombo in 1937. It maintains the classical Alfa mechanical configuration with the addition of an idler gear in the rear axle unit to lower the car's centre of gravity. Compared with cars offering capacities greater than 4500 cc, the 158, with its 1500 cc, looked like a very slender but extremely agile small car that made it lively for its adversaries. It made a triumphant debut in Livorno and after the war it resumed its triumphant progress, eventually winning the first world Formula One title in1950.
In 1950, the Alfetta changed its name to the 159 with the few changes: suspension system with De Dion rear axle, chassis with the addition of tubular elements and a more powerful engine. In 1951, it won the second world championship. The long life of the Alfetta, a state-of-the-art model was the result of contiguous tweaking of the engine while leaving the original constructional shape unchanged. The power increases were continual, up to 425 HP in 1951.
The Giulia's racing career got underway in 1964 when Andrea De Adamich made his debut aboard a “Giulia TI Super” owned by the Jolly Club. The Giulia's success had created a climate of optimism, work was proceeding apace on the car that would become the Alfetta, while the Tipo 33/2 litre also made its winning debut (Fléron uphill race in Belgium). The GTA driven by Andrea De Adamich was again European Champion. GTAs won in Zolder (Belgium), the Tourist Trophy in the UK, in Budapest and the 6 Hours of Nürburgring.
The Alfa 33 TT 12was equipped with a 12-cylinder boxer engine delivering a power of 500 HP fitting in a tubular frame ("telaio tubolare", hence the Italian acronym “TT”). Its boxer engine proved to be indestructible and the car won 7 races out of 8. In 1975 it allowed Alfa Romeo to win the World Cup makes Championship, trouncing all competition with its evident superiority.
This was the best F1 season for the combination Brabham-Alfa Romeo with Lauda and Watson. In the meantime, new Alfa Manager Ettore Massacesi gave the go-ahead for a company reorganisation to help it adapt effectively to the new financial and market situation.
With the Alfa 155 in the sporting versions 155 GTA and 155 V6 TI, Alfa Romeo's winning streak went on and on. The Alfa 155 GTA, driven by Nicola Larini, won the Italian Superturismo title.