Friday, October 8, 2010

Nuvolari in heaven

I hope this doesn't come as a shock to you, but Tazio Nuvolari, the greatest driver of them all, is in heaven (that's him pictured above in the header image for this blog, back in 1938). Matter of fact, this isn't actually news, as Tazio, 'The Flying Mantuan', flew up to heaven on August 11, 1953, aged 60. If you want to read a bit more about his incredible racing career on two wheels and four, Wikipedia does a good job of summarising it. It's worth reading about him, too. However, as one new model car in particular arrived here yesterday, I thought I'd take a different tack and imagine what he's doing right now, up there in heaven (and try out a new way of photographing model cars while I'm at it).

For starters, this is a metal poster I have hanging
up in my shed. So I'm a Nuvolari fan. Yep! And
it's that 1930 Alfa, the Mille Miglia winning
car in the poster, which arrived in the mail
yesterday and got me thinking about how heaven
ought to be, if the Lord is just, fair and loving.
Heaven has a pleasant climate, almost tropical down at the coast, but up in
the mountains it's cool enough to grow grapes. Here's the perfect runabout
for those trips up to the Heavenly Mountains. The Alfa 6C 1750, with which
Nuvolari and co-driver Battista Guidotti won the 1930 Mille Miglia
('thousand mile') race around Italy, at an average speed of over 100km/h.
Here is a race report, from a very informative motoring history blog.
Tazio's Alfa is also great fun to drive down from his house in the foothills
to the shops on weekend mornings to pick up the papers, some bread and
wine. This is a Brumm model, in 1:43 scale, as are all the other cars here.
Tazio's heavenly house is modest, but his garage is quite big. While he doesn't
often take the Bugatti Type 59 (which he drove in several Grands Prix during
the mid 1930s) for a spin, he does enter it in local hill climbs, which he
invariably wins. Brumm have also done a nice job with this model.
Ditto the Auto Union Type D, which he drove in 1938 to win the British Grand
Prix at Donington. He doesn't take it out much, but there is an 'Around the Bay'
race every year which consists of four laps around the picturesque tropical
bay which you can see in the background here. The big Auto Union loves
to drift on the long sweeping corners, of which there are many here. The
model pictured here is by Minichamps, very nicely made.
If he doesn't feel like taking the 1750cc Alfa up to the winery in the hills to
cool off, there's always the little Cisitalia waiting in the garage ready to go.
This amazing little car featured a lightweight 'space frame' chassis and was
powered by a modest 1089cc four-cylinder engine. It won its class in the
1947 Mille Miglia with Tazio at the wheel, and it came second overall,missing
out on the main prize by 16 minutes. You can read the race report here.
This model of Cisitalia became known as the 202 SMM 'Nuvolari'.
The 1:43 model here is by Starline is a pretty little thing.
However, as I think I mentioned earlier. Tazio has a big garage and up here in Heaven he can drive what he likes. And so to cruise around town, talk to the pretty girls, visit the cafes and just take it easy on sunny days, where the cooling sea breezes waft in very reliably over the bay, Tazio put in an order for something he had never raced, and which he had no intention of ever racing (although driving everything fast is a habit he'll never kick).

The purists were horrified at first. A Cadillac! How could he? But after a
lifetime of working tiny engines very very hard to make them go fast
he just thought cruising with a big V8 under the hood, with the top down
and the sun shining is a very nice way to get from A to B up here in
Heaven. This is my first Yatming model, and it's nicely made.
I think two bits of You Tube fun might be a good way to conclude, but unfortunately with Tazio Nuvolari's era, the quality of the action footage is generally inferior to the stills photography. There are several annoying videos in tribute to Nuvolari accompanied by cheesy songs, but this video has unobtrusive acoustic guitar music, plus a great slide show of stills.

And finally, some action. The 1948 Mille Miglia, when Nuvolari was 56 years old and still very, very fast indeed.

And PS: my thanks to Mudflap over at Diecast Central, whose excellent diorama-style photos of his own model car collection in the 'Collections' thread at the forum there inspired me to mimic his methods in my own amateurish way. Thank you Mudflap!

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