90 Years Ago - The 1932 Monaco GP

On the 17th of April 1932, the streets of the Monte Carlo district played host to the fourth Monaco Grand Prix. It was Alfa Romeo’s first appearance as a works team in Monaco, where they faced the teams from Bugatti and Maserati. Racing for the outfit from Portello, all in red Monzas, were the Italian trio of Nuvolari, Giuseppe Campari and Mario Umberto Borzacchini. There was a fourth car, a white Monza, for the German Rudolf Caracciola, who was not yet part of the official factory team.

The entry list was by invitation only and just 17 cars appeared on the grid, after two of the original 19 failed to start. Even though all the cars had been timed throughout practice, the order of the starting grid was still determined by ballot, Nuvolari being handed eleventh on the grid. The Italian started fantastically, passing seven cars within the first five laps, and settling into second position after just ten laps. Nuvolari set a new fastest time of two minutes and four seconds on lap 12 but, despite his speed, he was unable to gain ground on the fast-starting Bugatti of Louis Chiron who had opened an early lead. The leading trio of Chrion, Nuvolari and the Bugatti of Achille Varzi, just five seconds behind the Alfa, started to pull away from the main pack. 

After thirty laps, Nuvolari started to apply pressure and gain ground on the leading Bugatti. Chiron rushed to pass one of the backmarkers and grazed the sandbags on the corner at the Quai de Plaisance, propelling the car into the air and turning it over, throwing Chiron into the road. Fortunately, Chiron was uninjured by the fall from his vehicle, except for some cuts and bruises, and recovered quickly, but this had wrecked Bugatti’s best chance for the win and handed the lead over to Alfa Romeo. It was a lead Nuvolari would not relinquish. He crossed the line to ensure he and Alfa Romeo would be the first Italians to win the Monaco Grand Prix.

Though Monaco was a non-Championship race, it laid a marker to the dominance of Alfa Romeo for the 1932 season. The 8C 2300 'Monza' would also emerge victorious at the Nürburgring, Péronne, Lviv, Nancy, Saint-Gaudens, Monza, Miramas and Helsinki, and at the Targa Florio in the hands of Nuvolari. The Italian was dominant, winning the Championship for the Alfa Corse works team behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo P3. The other title contenders, Bugatti and Maserati, were rarely a match for the Alfa Romeo with its combination of high speed and light weight.

Tazio Nuvolari

The Flying Man from Mantua

Some names in motor racing history are immortal, and one of those is Tazio Nuvolari. It was not the number of victories he took, but his style, credited with inventing the four-wheel drift, and his achievements against the odds; it was an audacious night-time manoeuvre with his headlights off to overtake Achille Varzi on his debut for Alfa Romeo during the 1930 Mille Miglia that sealed the Italian daredevil's mythical reputation. It was this utter disregard for personal safety, and a determination unlike any other, that made him one of the greatest racers to have ever lived. Five wins at the Coppa Ciano, two at the Mille Miglia, two victories at the Targa Florio, two RAC Tourist Trophies, a 24 Hours of Le Mans victory and a European Championship in Grand Prix racing, as well as the 1925 350cc European Championship on a motorcycle, are a testament to a true great. He emerged victorious in 150 races, but perhaps his greatest was the "impossible victory" against the German giants of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union at the Nürburgring in an underpowered Alfa Romeo Tipo B. Nuvolari was not simply a racing driver, to Italians he became a demi-god, even idolised by the other icons of the sport.

Alfa Romeo 8C 2300

The epitome of the spirit of racing

Seldom has there been a more convincing claimant to the title of the complete car than Vittorio Jano’s masterpiece, the Alfa Romeo 8C. The epitome of the spirit of racing in the glamorous 1930s era, with victories in Grand Prix racing, at Le Mans four years in succession, and in no less than seven editions of the Mille Miglia, its competition credentials are beyond reproach and, yet they only tell part of the 8C story. The chassis, available in both long chassis Lungo and short chassis Corto form, underpinned some of the finest and most elegant touring cars of the day, featuring timeless coachwork from contemporary Carrozzerie, including Zagato, Touring, Castagna, and Brianza. This said, it is in the renowned ‘Monza’ form that the 8C is perhaps most admired.

This fine 1:8 scale model is of the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 as it was raced to victory by Tazio Nuvolari at the 1932 Monaco Grand Prix on the 17th of April 1932. Models are available to order now. 

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