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The Brambilla brothers


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#1 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 11:09

Reading a lot of topics, I feel a strange opinion about Brambilla posted by many TNFers . About Vittorio particularly, but also about his brother Tino.

I feel ironical references about his look (the Gorilla, the Monza's Gorilla) I know those were usual nicknames Vittorio had during his long career. He was a gladiator, he was a big man (he seems to me always Victor McLaglen... against John Wayne in the great John Ford's movie "The quiet man", do you remember? :lol: ), very very different as the small jockey-drivers we know at the time...

But I feel also hard references about his trait, his kind of driving or his racing behaviour, often written with ironical smiles or wink faces...
I don't understand if this is only pleasantness or simply contempt.

I didn't have the luck of personally know Mr. Vittorio, I remember only the emotions and the palpitations that his poor, rough, simple, pugnacious driving style gave me: he was first a mechanic and then a driver, he became a professional driver about 35 y. o . when the others stop their career, or reorganize their targets. He went at the circuit driving his van, he tuned his car and then he drove (and sometime he won, or was simply in the scrum...)
I remember the Monaco F. 3 Grand Prix in 1971 (or 1970? :confused: ) Vittorio Brambilla and his problematic red Birel-Alfa Romeo during practice on Thursday: the car didn't go! no one lap! So he loaded all the stuff on the van and went in hurry to Hockenheim (perhaps driving personally again his van... :) ) for a non-championship F. 3 race (and he won, if I remember well...).

He won an Italian F. 3 Championship in 1972, he was second after JP Jarier in the European F.2 Championshin in 1973, he won a wet GP at Osterreichring 1975 (and went off the road after the finish line... :cat: ), and didn't win ...) three or four other F. 1 GP (Japan 1976, Sweden 1975) he won with Arturo Merzario and the Alfa Romeo 33SC12 a couple of World Endurance Championship and a lot of races at the end of the 70s.

I remember his orange Beta-March 751 (simply an inflated F. 2 chassis...;) ): I think he was exciting, an extraordinary fighter, a quite man and a good good guy.

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#2 Keir

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 16:28

Nanni,

We all enjoyed Brambilla "The Race Driver", he was a rare breed, a last of his kind.

That he may have been unpolished in direct comparisson with his rivals certainly didn't detract from the enjoyment one felt while watching him race.

"Hey, here comes Brambilla with a big tire mark on the side of his car, Go Vittorio!!"

#3 ensign14

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 16:36

Originally posted by Nanni Dietrich
But I feel also hard references about his trait, his kind of driving or his racing behaviour, often written with ironical smiles or wink faces...
I don't understand if this is only pleasantness or simply contempt.

I think the former. I have only seen him driving in videos but he seemed to be wildly exciting and a real character on track.

Of course the aftermath of his GP win only added to his reputation...but of course on a sopping wet track he kept it on the island when it mattered where others could not. And there was the fairytale of someone who had taken so long to get to F1 getting a totally unexpected win for a winless team.

#4 Barry Boor

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 16:59

Probably due to my never-ending tendency to support the underdog, I was a BIG Brambilla fan.

To that we must add that he drove for March, who were struggling and the car was ORANGE. I always loved orange cars. And finally, of course, the guy just never knew when he was beaten!!!

For me, Austria '75 was a real tear-in-the-eye moment.

#5 Frank de Jong

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 18:42

I was a Brambilla supporter too, always good for exitement. Boy did he crash some Marches in 1976...
And don't forget Brambilla was an allround driver, great in sports- and touring cars (like Monza 4h 1973) too.

#6 D-Type

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 18:53

Had his name not sort of rhymed with gorilla, he would never have earned the nickname.

As to his ability - he is one of the rare breed of men who can claim the title 'grand prix winner'

#7 David Lawson

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 19:34

Originally posted by Barry Boor
To that we must add that he drove for March, who were struggling and the car was ORANGE.


A born racer, always one of my favourites my photo of him at Druids, Brands Hatch 1976.

Posted Image

David

#8 MCS

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 19:58

Nobody has mentioned Tino yet...

The pair of them used to come to Thruxton every Easter for their annual assault on the Thruxton chicane...

...anybody got any pictures of these particular efforts ?

Please don't take this the wrong way. I was a big fan of both the brothers.

Incidentally, wasn't Tino known as the "Monza Gorilla" long before Vittorio - or I am dreaming?


Edited by MCS, 15 October 2010 - 08:01.


#9 Frank de Jong

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 20:41

Okay, okay - Tino could race a Schnitzer BMW CSL around Monza competitive too :stoned:

#10 angst

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 21:44

Unfortunately I missed out on his March days, but from the brief clips that I've seen he looked to be quite spectacular. I liked his story, starting late as he did and winning unexpectedly, and being competitive almost everywhere in'75/'76. Even then he seemed to be a driver from another era. I got the impression from everything I read that he was a 'good guy'. The same goes for Tino - didn't John Surtees have some very complimentary things to say about his driving abilities?

All out never-say die racers, all rounders and characters. They were everything I admire in a driver.

#11 chofar

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 21:50

Does anybody has some recollection of the1977 Sportscar season, when Brambilla and Merzario were so-called team-mates and tried every race to outperform the other... by any mean ??
I read a report where Merzario says 'Next time I come with a lawyer, this guy has tried to kill me !!'
I think it was during the Paul Ricard 500. The cars were AlfaRomeo 33SC12 of course.

#12 LittleChris

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 21:54

Originally posted by MCS
The pair of them used to come to Thruxton every Easter to continue their annual assault on the Thruxton chicane...


To this day, probably my most treasured autograph is that of Vittorio collected in the paddock following the 1975 Thruxton F2 race. I remember someone yelling something about spaghetti at him, his response being the 1 fingered salute to the person concerned !!

#13 neville mackay

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Posted 02 August 2004 - 21:14

Ah, the gruesome twosome! What thrills they provided! They were truly hard racers - in all senses of the term - as they plied their trade across Europe in the late 1960's and early 1970s.

Vittorio's career is of course well documented. But Tino was also a driver of no little ability - albeit one for whom the phrase "accident waiting to happen" could have been invented. Looking back over his varied career - from successful motorcycle racer (with a third place in the 1959 German 500cc motorcycle grand prix to his name) to formula 2 hotshot with Ferrari one can only marvel at his supernatural ability to walk away from the most spectacular shunts completely unscathed.

I recall how at Thruxton in 1973 the crowd at the chicane held its breath with barely surpressed anticipation as, lap after lap, Tino's orange projectle hoved into view in an ever alarming set of slides, wreathed in tyre smoke and seemingly defying the laws of physics as it explored every inch of the track - and more! Finaly the inevitable happened and Tino emerged from the steaming wreckage perched atop the chicane armco to rapturous applause from the assembled masses!

Earlier in the day I had taken a picture of the duo as they prepared their vehicles in the paddock. Some months later I asked Vittorio to sign a copy of the photo. Recognising the venue, he proceeded to wave his arms around excitedly in a graphic display of imaginary opposite lock, concluding a stream of Italian with the words "Tino.....bang!!"

Great characters and not bad drivers either. I have a very warm regard for them both!

#14 petefenelon

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Posted 02 August 2004 - 21:37

Brambilla was genuinely popular in Britain, I think most of the fans here recognised in him a real racing enthusiast. He worked bloody hard to get into F1 comparatively late in life - 37 or so (which makes me feel old, I'm only 36 ;)) - and was clearly although not the most polished driver one good enough to score points and even win for March, never the most financially lavish team in the paddock.

I think he was recognised and loved for what he was -- a big man with a big character, a genuine love of racing, and enough (albeit wild) talent to do well at the top level. An enthusiast, and not one of the colourless corporate men who started to invade racing in the 80s - Vittorio was someone doing it 'cos he loved it, not because he thought he'd make millions out of it or because his dad was determined to have a son who was a world champion.


#15 Twin Window

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 00:27

My favourite shot of Vitt...

Posted Image

...which I took in the Brands pitlane during the 1974 GP.

Twinny :wave: :up:

#16 Mallory Dan

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 12:26

Originally posted by Twin Window
My favourite shot of Vitt...

Posted Image

...which I took in the Brands pitlane during the 1974 GP.

Vitt's car pictures is presumably the '761' Williams later had for Neve then...


Twinny :wave: :up:



#17 Keir

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 13:24

Now what's strange about David Lawson's pic of Vitt??

No tire marks on the side of the car!!

Let's see a real "Vitt shot."

GO VITTORIO

#18 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 14:04

There is a book (in italian language, I don't know if it was translated in english) written by Marco Pastonesi and Giorgio Terruzzi, "Il bello del gas" is the title: a fine novel about two brothers in a small town near Milan, at the end of the 50s... one, the greatest is skinny, nervous, hard... the youngest is robust, rough, tender... they work in a garage, both good mechanics... they always challenge themselves in incredible races in oper roads, from the garage to the bar... from the bar to home... from home to garage, around the small town, with bycicles, motorbikes, three-wheeler vans :rolleyes: , cars... and one day the greatest brother try to drive in a circuit near Milan... and his brother obviously pursue him...

A good novel: it seems the authors drew an inspiration from two real brothers from Monza, we know very well... the greatest very skinny, nervous, hard... the youngest more robust, rough, tender... both very good drivers...;)
:p

#19 Paul Taylor

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 14:09

Unfortunately, I didn't know very much about Brambilla in the way of personality, but I know he was a great racer and I was very shocked to hear of his untimely death a few years ago.

I suppose the most famous point of his career was winning the 1975 Austrian GP and promptly crashing into the armco barrier soon afterwards :lol:

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#20 Twin Window

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 16:13

Originally posted by Keir


Let's see a real "Vitt shot."

GO VITTORIO

Is the sort you mean, Keir?!

Posted Image
(Source: Autosprint)

Long live VITT...

Twinny :) :up:

#21 SEdward

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 16:40

The front of JPB's 210 doesn't look much better than the front of Vitt's March. It's not quite, errrr... straight.

Edward.

#22 Twin Window

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 16:51

Yes, but Belty was driving a BRM. They were simply soooo fast that the bodywork couldn't stay on. Look closely and you might spot flames behind the car as it sets the tarmac alight with it's sheer speed...

Anyway, I'm back off to the Home For Derranged ex-BRM fans. :wave:

Twinny :)

#23 Keir

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 16:57

A wee bit of late braking right there!!

#24 SEdward

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 17:12

Keir,

Surely, you're not suggesting that, in 1974, the BRMs needed brakes?

Edward

#25 Muzza

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 18:16

Originally posted by petefenelon
(...)
(which makes me feel old, I'm only 36 ;))
(...)


Funny thing, Pete: reading your postings, and maybe also because of your avatar, I always took you as a much older fellow!

(take it as a compliment)

#26 fines

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 18:20

Surprising that both made it that far, especially JPB with the deranged rear suspension. I have never seen images of that crash, only ever read about it - in my imagination there were nine cars out on the spot and per force pretty much blocking the track, so I could never understand how they could have kept the race going like that. Perhaps others continued also for a mile or two?

#27 Keir

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 18:41

SEdward,
That BRM 201 went quite well on a number of occasions! Amon had it Q'ed up in 12th place at Watkins Glen! .........and you really needed a bit of grunt to go fast there!!

I did speak to Chis that weekend and strangely enough, he never mentioned the Brakes!! :eek:

My braking comment was directed at Vitt, who I believe got a little too close to someone that day!!

As evidenced by the telltale markings on the front of the MARCH!

The tire marks I was looking for in one of my earlier Vitt posts refers to the side tire marks often left on Vitt and Stuck's cars as they pushed the barrier envelope a little too far!!

#28 SEdward

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 19:23

Kier,

My fondest memory of the 201 with JPB at the wheel was in South Africa in 1974, when he wound it up into second place. Heaven knows how!

Edward

#29 Keir

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 19:59

Some fine driving from Jean-Pierre, he was no slouch by any means, he just couldn't do it week in and week out!

#30 Muzza

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 20:05

Originally posted by Keir
Some fine driving from Jean-Pierre, he was no slouch by any means, he just couldn't do it week in and week out!


Keir, do you mean lap in and lap out? Was there, ever, a more irregular Formula 1 driver than Jean-Pierre Jarier?

#31 Keir

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 20:20

Muzza,

Now we have a "jumper" tangent??

This thread is about Brambilla.

The last two posts prior to yours were about Jean-Pierre Beltoise!

Captain, I think we've been hijacked!!

#32 Muzza

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 20:36

Ok, ok... :lol:

I am a Brambilla fan too - who isn't?

One aspect that many people forget about Vittorio is that he was seriously hurt in the accident that killed Ronnie Peterson. Brambilla was hit in the head by a flying tyre (I have heard accounts that he actually banged his head against the wheel of another car - that means, that another vehicle would have rammed his helmet - but I cannot confirm that), losing consciousness and suffering a serious concussion.

I read reports that the doctors were initially more concerned about him that with Peterson - who was conscious, talking and whose burns were less serious that they had first seemed (I guess when they unzipped Peterson's overalls and took his boots off they suddenly changed opinion). Fittipaldi and Jody Scheckter were amongst those that feared for Brambilla's life. It was believed that Vittorio would suffer from permanent damage from the accident, but the Gorilla fought his way through it.

My apologies from bringing a rather unpleasant aspect of his biography to the thread, but I think his recovery was emblematic of the man he was.

Regards,


Muzza

#33 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 06 August 2004 - 07:51

Muzza, you are correct.
Two days ago, at the italian Tv there was a program dedicated to Gilles V. We saw a lot of famous images, interview and reports. And also images from Monza 1978, the accident, the flames etc. There was Jean Pierre Jabouille talking he was involved in the accident with his Renault: he said that after the accident Ronnie told him some words, he had suffering for his legs but he was perfectly awake, and that marchals and doctors were all around Brambilla, anxious for him because he losed consciousness after the knock of the flying tyre.

If I remember well Vittorio come back in racing after one and half year, with the Alfa Romeo F.1, thanks to Mr. Carlo Chiti. But honestly he wasn't more the same, and in 1981 he retired from sport. At the time he was 44.

#34 Dave Ware

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Posted 06 August 2004 - 18:00

I am a Brambilla fan. I suspect that the ironic smiles and wink faces are done with humor and respect.

I saw him at Canada in the Surtees, I think in '75. After Andretti deposited the oil from his blown Cosworth in turn 9, first Rupert Keegan then Brambilla went off and into the guardrail. Brambilla was running fourth at the time. It would have been his best finish of the year, perhaps his only points-paying finish. After exiting the car, his orange helmet was justifiably thrown to the ground.

In the garages afterwards, his mechanics were selling Brambilla's busted-up and dirt-encrusted Surtees nose for $35.00. I wanted it, but in a rare moment of stupidity, decided that the purchase would be too friviolus. So I passed, something I've regretted ever since.

I think we all like the underdogs.

Dave

#35 Hank the Deuce

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Posted 07 August 2004 - 12:37

Having discovered F1 too late to know of Brambilla whilst he was racing, from the tributes here I can only assume that he represents a type of driver whose absence from today's F1 spectacle is lamented in the "A fans desire for a drivers return..." thread...

#36 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 15:03

I don't know if this thing is known in the "Test-drivers topics" of TNF...

I've read that Vittorio Brambilla drove in private test the Tecno Martini PA123B F. 1 in July 1973 at Misano. The Allan McCall designed Tecno, the car of Chris Amon 6th at Belgian GP.
In the same days Chris Amon and (half) team Tecno were in an other circuit (Silverstone ? ) testing the Gordon Fowell designed Tecno Martini.

This was, I think, the first drive for Vittorio at the wheel of a F.1. In 1973 he partecipated the European F. 2 Championship with his orange Beta-March 732-Bmw.

#37 bigears

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 18:02

This is my current and favourite desktop. Really I am a big Nordschleife fan!

http://img.photobuck...enBrambilla.jpg

Unfortunately I can't remember where I got this desktop image from, I think I obtained it from a old Russian F1 website long ago.

The photograph is so beautiful. The orange March car stands out very well from the "Green Hell" background. Plus I love photographs of F1 cars getting the full droop at the Nordschleife!

#38 Pedro 917

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 10:41

Zolder, Belgian GP 1975 : I'll never forget the end of the first lap when the whole pack came storming towards the Jacky Ickx chicane just before the start/finish line. Vittorio came out of Lauda's slip stream and side by side they were entering the chicane. I can remember thinking that it had to go wrong but miraculously Brambilla got through and took the lead. Over the howling of the engines, you could hear the crowd cheering! One of my favorite memories. After the race I told Vittorio about the manoeuvre and he showed me that oh so typical grin on his face. If Hulme was called "the bear", well Vittorio was "the teddybear". A great guy, a legend.

#39 SEdward

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 13:13

Does anyone out there have the positions at the end of the first lap after the first start of the 1976 British GP?

I was standing at the exit of Druids and had a great view of Top Straight and Paddock Bend. After witnessing the carambolage at Paddock after the start, I am pretty sure that Vittorio crossed the line in 3rd place at the end of the first lap behind Lauda and Depailler. Memory may be playing tricks here, but I remember being well impressed and pleased by the the position of that Orange Missile.

Vittorio would not have a place in today's F1. If he were ever in a press conference and faced with an awkward question, then I think that he would just tell all and sundry to eff off.

Well appreciated and much missed.

Edward.

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#40 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 13:41

An italian friend once told me the story that Vittorio had picked up a stranded driver after finishing an F3 race. The driver climbed on and held on to the roll bar. But Vittorio (still used to the high velocity during the race, mind you Monza) didn't drive too slow on his parade lap. He came back in the pits and wondered where this guy had gone without thanking him for the lift.

Those were the days.

#41 philippe7

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 14:33

I have read something like that too......If I remember well the story was that it was during a private test at Monza , and that the unfortunate fellow was in fact a mechanic who had walked from the pits to come and repair the car which had stopped somewhere on the track , and that Vittorio did offer to give him a lift back....and indeed lost him at the first curve...

#42 Mark Bennett

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 17:27

I think that was a story that happened to his elder brother Tino. Vittorio was mechanic for Tino whilst he was in F3, and another friend Pino(?) was helping.

Tino was testing at Monza, and ran out of fuel at about the 2nd Lesmo. Vittorio heard the car stop and said to Pino to take a can of fuel around to Tino.
On arriving at the car, Tino was sat on the car, and as Vittorio sumised, was out of fuel. So they filled the car and Tino said "Hop on the back, I'll give you a ride back to the pits"
So with Pino clutching the roll bar (presumably with one hand holding an empty can), Tino set off, from the Lesmo in 1st, then 2nd, 3rd... He's forgotten Pino! Through the kink and then the Ascari Chicane...

Back at the pits Tino arrives in the car.
"It was fuel then?"
"Yes"
"Where's Pino?"

They found him an hour later face down in the grass on the outside of Parabolica! (no gravel in those days). By the late 80's when I heard this story, Pino was still working for the Brambilla brothers.

That's the story I heard anyway!

#43 Tim Murray

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 17:38

Originally posted by SEdward
Does anyone out there have the positions at the end of the first lap after the first start of the 1976 British GP?

I was standing at the exit of Druids . . .

Good lord, so was I. Did you by any chance see, between the first and second race starts, a group of so-called 'Hunt supporters' threatening and jostling an innocent spectator who just happened to be wearing a Ferrari t-shirt? I managed to avoid having it physically torn off my back by pretending that I spoke no English.

Autosport says that Lauda was leading Depailler and Andretti at the end of that first lap - no mention of Vittorio, unfortunately.

There must be many good Brambilla stories out there. The one which sticks in my mind appeared in Autosport in the '70s, and (IIRC) relates to when the brothers were in their teens, working at their uncle's factory, which was on a dual carriageway. They used to arrive for work on their motorbikes, full tilt down the dual carriageway, peeling off through the gates of the factory at high speed and broadsiding to a halt in the factory yard. This apparently worked fine until one day the employee whose job it was to open the factory gates failed to report for duty . . .

It's always struck me as somewhat ironic that a man such as Vittorio should have died while mowing his lawn. I really feel he would have wanted a more - dramatic - exit.

#44 SEdward

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 17:42

Lawn mowing can sometimes be a dramatic experience. May he rest in peace...

Edward

#45 Pedro 917

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 19:34

Here's a great picture my brother took at Monza in 1981 :

Posted Image

#46 Twin Window

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Posted 03 September 2004 - 11:27

Originally posted by Tim Murray

Good lord, so was I.

Me too!! :eek:

Twinny :)

#47 SEdward

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Posted 03 September 2004 - 13:01

Forgive me but this has nothing to do with Vitt, but with a couple of earlier posts about the 1976 British GP.

Astonishing! So much grey matter in so small a space...

I recently saw a photo of the first lap (first start or restart, I can't remember) that showed the field driving out of Druids and into Bottom Bend, or whatever it's called now... It may have been in Motor Sport, but I'm not sure. After carefully scrutinising the picture with a magnifying glass, I found a small and blurred red blotch that is probably me. I still look the same...

Edward.

#48 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 07 September 2004 - 10:28

Vittorio and Tino Brambilla had the same colours of their helmets: orange with three white balls.
I think Tino has never put on a full faced helmet but only a jet type.
Also Vittorio's son Carlo had the same helmet during his short racing career.

The colour orange are inspired to the helmet of Omobono Tenni, one of the greatest italian motorcycle racers in the 30s and 40s (he won the 1937 Tourist Trophy).

#49 Twin Window

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Posted 07 September 2004 - 11:15

Not that it's of any great importance, Nanni, but I happened to see a photo in Autosprint the other day of both the Brambilla brothers almost side-by-side in their March 732s (both orange, but Tino's with white Beta logos, and Vittorio with black!) and both were wearing full-face Bells.

Twinny :)

#50 Twin Window

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Posted 07 September 2004 - 23:25

I'll put that pic of the brothers Brambilla on here when I find it again!

In the meantime, here's one which reminds us that VITT was a real attacker...

Posted Image
(Source: Autosprint)

:eek:

Twinny :)