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Bruno Giacomelli


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#1 watkins

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 05:55

Thought you F1 and race fans would love this story from the Star Gazette (Elmira,N.Y. by Ron Levanduski)
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Copyright © 2006 Star Gazette


Italian driver relives career highlight at Glen
Ron Levanduski
August 24, 2006

Bruno Giacomelli will forever have his name enshrined in the record books at Watkins Glen International. The Italian Grand Prix driver captured his first and only pole position of his career in the last U.S. Grand Prix to take place at the Glen in 1980.

In the process, he set a lap record on the 3.377-mile circuit that stood for a quarter of a century. Helio Castroneves bettered his mark in an IndyCar on a revised 3.4-mile circuit during last year's Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix.

That final Glen Grand Prix meant much more to Giacomelli, who had the race of his life there -- one that ended, unfortunately, in disappointment.

Twenty-six years later, Giacomelli, now 53, made a surprise visit to the Glen on an early evening at the end of July. The farmer's son from Brescia, near Milan, arrived at the circuit with his family as they were traveling from a vacation in Niagara Falls and heading back to New York.

Giacomelli had hoped to share with his wife and two daughters the memory of the site where he had achieved his greatest moment in an otherwise unspectacular Grand Prix career.

Giacomelli told a gate security guard that he had raced there once before and asked if he and his family could ride around the circuit. The unsuspecting guard granted his request and took them out on the circuit in his Toyota SUV.

The track would have normally been closed at that hour, around 7 p.m., but remained open for Watkins Glen sign painter Tony Vickio, who was lettering a Tissot logo on the guardrail under the start-finish stand in preparation for the AMD at the Glen NASCAR Nextel Cup race.

As Vickio recalled this week, on the second or third lap, the guard stopped along the pit straight, where Vickio was working, to see if he remembered the race driver who the security person had not heard off.

Vickio said Giacomelli approached him and said in broken English, "I used to race here, I had (the) pole position in Formula One here. My name is Giacomelli."

"Bruno?" asked Vickio, who grew up on the original Watkins Glen street course and had attended almost every Grand Prix ever run there. "Si! exclaimed an excited Giacomelli, who was surprised Vickio knew his name.

Vickio, who remembered Giacomelli's accomplishment, said they reminisced about that fall weekend in October 1980 for nearly 45 minutes.

"The thing I remember most was the look on his face when I said, 'Bruno.' His eyes lit up like I was his long-lost friend," Vickio said.

Vickio said Giacomelli related the story, in Italian, to his family. His daughters, ages 16 and 21, had not been born when Giacomelli had his weekend to remember at the Glen.

"It was my day," Giacomelli told Vickio, who afterwards autographed an old U.S. Grand Prix ticket Vickio had stashed away in his pickup truck. In return, Vickio gave him another old race ticket from the 1974 U.S. Grand Prix.

Not many fans would recall Giacommelli, who in six years of Formula One scored just one podium finish, a third at the 1981 U.S. Grand Prix West in Las Vegas.

"This was the closest I ever got to win," Giacomelli said to Vickio.

Before entering Formula One in 1978, Giacomelli had a successful junior career, winning championships in Formula 3 and Formula 2 in 1976 and 1978, respectively. He also won the prestigious Monaco F3 street race in 1976.

The Glen was Giacomelli's one moment in the spotlight as a Grand Prix driver.

Driving an Alfa Romeo 179, decked in the red and white livery of sponsor Marlboro, Giacomelli dominated the weekend. His pole lap of 1 minute, 33.291 seconds was considerably faster than the rest of the field. Soon-to-be world champion Nelson Piquet took the second spot, eight-tenths of a second slower in a Brabham BT-49.

Giacomelli's mastery continued in the race, where he had built up a 12-second lead over Alan Jones. It marked the first time an Alfa Romeo had led a Grand Prix in more than two decades.

Giacomelli seemed to have the race under control, but as he was extending his lead, hard luck struck on the 32nd lap of the 59-lap race. The mighty scream of the V-12 Alfa engine suddenly went silent. An ignition coil had failed, and Giacomelli coasted his car to a standstill on the side of the track as Jones sped to victory.

It was a bittersweet day for Giacomelli, but one he recalls fondly and is proud off. Proud enough to return and share that memory with his family and the fan he never knew he had.

•SAD GLEN MILESTONE: It was 25 years ago on the Sunday of the AMD at the Glen (Aug. 13) that the original Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corp., which ran the Glen from its inception, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In May 1981, the tentatively scheduled U.S. Grand Prix was removed from the Formula One calendar because of nonpayment of funds to the Formula One Constructors Association that dated back to the 1980 event. In October of that year, while under bankruptcy protection, the Grand Prix Crop. had its last professional race, an event for CART Champ Cars. Rick Mears won the Watkins Glen 200, which originally had been scheduled for August.

The Bank of New York, who put the track into foreclosure in 1982, purchased it at auction.

The track was eventually purchased by Corning Enterprises in July 1983, and pro racing resumed in 1984. It has continued unabated since then.

The track is currently owned by International Speedway Corp. of Daytona, Fla.

Copyright © 2006 Star Gazette

=================END OF Star Gazette story....

I've got to give the Watkins Glen gate guy some credit...At least he let Bruno on the track, but I'm not suprise he didn't know him or recognize his name. Hell...They threw out the rich history of Watkins Glen with the garbage years ago when International Speedway Corp. took over...Hoping it would all go away and never return. And that's sad...But there's still a few of us around like that painter, Tony Vickio, that'll never forget the "Glory Days"at the Glen.

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#2 David M. Kane

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 15:26

Didn't McLaren call him Jacko?

#3 Pedro 917

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 17:40

I believe it was "Jack O' Malley"

#4 caneparo

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 20:02

Bruno! :clap:
Thanks for this story. Bruno is doing well and I often see in a Milan television talking - when Palazzoli or Gabbiani let him finish his speech :D - about Formula 1. Giacomelli was a good driver that made a record season in Formula 2, 1978 and was really doing good with Alfa in 1980. Unfortunatelly Depailler died and I think it was a major struck to the team as the French had much more experience than Bruno and was a great tester. That Glen pole was a "what could have been" for him. His career would have change a lot with a win with Alfa Romeo, I can't blame him.
Hilarious the episode in Montreal in which Rosberg gave him a lift on his Williams after the end of the GP and the finn started pushing forgetting Bruno was on top of his car...well he flew of at the first chicane. Bruno is a very funny man and he hasn't lost his good sense of humor. Many jokes have been made about him.

#5 Dennis Currington

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 22:29

Originally posted by caneparo
Bruno! :clap:
Thanks for this story. Bruno is doing well and I often see in a Milan television talking - when Palazzoli or Gabbiani let him finish his speech :D - about Formula 1. Giacomelli was a good driver that made a record season in Formula 2, 1978 and was really doing good with Alfa in 1980. .



Here is a shot of Bruno I took at the 1980 LBGP. Somewhere?? in my files I have an 8x10 of this shot that I had him sign when he was running in CART at Phoenix.


http://classicracing...80-LBGP/Scan228

#6 Michael Clark

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 22:56

What a wonderful story - thank you for sharing.

I liked Bruno (but he was my wife's no.1) and wonder what impact the quiet year of 1979 had on his F1 career.

Was the momentum of 1978 (and 76-77 for that matter) lost a bit in '79?

#7 Pedro 917

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 23:15

Great story indeed!
Here's a picture from Zolder 1980 :

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#8 Fiorentina 1

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 00:32

I was always a fan of Giacomelli. It's too bad he didn't have his day, he surely earned it. But, it was cool to see him get that podium in Vegas. I also never understood why he never got a ride in F1 in 84 or continue in CART. :

Good driver, that will always be remembered as #23.

#9 MCS

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 09:34

What a lovely story. :up:

Never once heard a bad word about Bruno "Jack O'Malley" - he was a favourite for a lot of people.

#10 caneparo

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 10:10

Originally posted by Fiorentina 1
I was always a fan of Giacomelli. It's too bad he didn't have his day, he surely earned it. But, it was cool to see him get that podium in Vegas. I also never understood why he never got a ride in F1 in 84 or continue in CART. :

Good driver, that will always be remembered as #23.


Could have Gethin dropped him for Senna? :stoned:

#11 turbos4ever

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 04:06

I don't think so, Senna started 1984 in the Toleman, and I believe jumped ship in mid-season to Lotus, run by Peter Warr.

#12 Le Castellet

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 12:11

Does anyone know what were the opportunities for Bruno in formula one for 1984 ?

Ciao.

#13 Thodore33

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 21:45

Originally posted by Le Castellet
Does anyone know what were the opportunities for Bruno in formula one for 1984 ?

Ciao.


I am still interested in the 1984 Giaco F1 future ?
He seemed to have no more support from "Candy" and "Benetton" ?

:confused:

#14 Twin Window

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 22:21

Originally posted by turbos4ever

I don't think so, Senna started 1984 in the Toleman, and I believe jumped ship in mid-season to Lotus, run by Peter Warr.

He signed for Lotus, if that's what you mean, prior to Monza, and was 'dropped' by the team for that race as *punishment* and subbed-for by Pierluigi Martini. Senna duly returned to the fold, and complted the season prior to joining Lotus for 1985.

Originally posted by Théodore33

He seemed to have no more support from "Candy" and "Benetton" ?

They were team sponsors, and not ones attached to 'The Panda'...

Pics I took of the man in question; I had reason to spend time with him on a couple of occasions over the years, and - as far as I'm concerned - he's a top fella.


British GP, 1981

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Monaco, 1981

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Las Vegas, 1981

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:up:

#15 Nikos Spagnol

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 23:01

I've never understood why Bruno signed to race (or, at least, trying to race) for Life in '90...

#16 p6owner

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 21:46

I think Bruno may have suffered, as many have , from being 'too nice'. I got his autograph at the FoS and he was very pleasant and unaassuming. Which makes me wonder (and perhaps this ought to be a topic of its own) why it is that although I am (though Mrs p6owner periodically disgarees) a nice guy, I am addicted to a sport where nice guys, especially in modern times, tend not to succeed.

#17 Thodore33

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 14:24

Some pics of Bruno :

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Copyright unknown or on the pic

:wave:

#18 David M. Kane

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 15:28

What kind of car is the bottom shot? Minardi?

#19 FLB

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 15:31

Originally posted by David M. Kane
What kind of car is the bottom shot? Minardi?

Life, F1, 1990

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#20 Spaceframe

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 20:42

Originally posted by Fiorentina 1
I was always a fan of Giacomelli. It's too bad he didn't have his day, he surely earned it. But, it was cool to see him get that podium in Vegas. I also never understood why he never got a ride in F1 in 84 or continue in CART. :

Good driver, that will always be remembered as #23.

He did get a drive in CART in 1984, but the Theodore-team folded quickly - I can't remember the details right now, though. I might be able to dig up something in the basement.

#21 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 20:42

Originally posted by FLB

Life, F1, 1990


Wasn't that the car that broke down on Bruno during his out-lap for his pre qualification lap at Hockenheim...? Must have been soo frustrating for him.

#22 SEdward

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 14:31

Bruno is one of those enigmatic drivers who were totally dominant in highly competitive junior formulae (F3 and F2 in Bruno's case) but failed to achieve much at the very top in F1. There are many other examples.

On the other hand, drivers like Lauda or Damon Hill hardly set the world on fire in the lower echelons, but went on to become world champions.

Why? Circumstances? Luck? Lack of business acumen?

Discuss.

Edward

#23 Bondurand

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 10:19

Originally posted by Pedro 917
I believe it was "Jack O' Malley"


I remember reading in AutoHebdo, that he earned this nickname because he (untipically for an Italian driver) came from British F3 Championship before F1

#24 Paolo

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 17:22

Originally posted by David M. Kane
What kind of car is the bottom shot?


"Car" is a big word, in this case.

#25 stevewf1

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 18:58

Originally posted by David M. Kane
What kind of car is the bottom shot? Minardi?


The Minardi was a FAR better car than the Life... :lol:

#26 Fiorentina 1

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 05:49

I remember him saying that driving the Life was fun because he got to see how the tracks have changed over the years. :eek: It didn't do him any good, but then again every knew there was nothing he could do to get that thing up to speed.

#27 nigel5

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 18:31

What were the links betwenne Bruno Giacomelli and the Leyton House company ???, because he was the Leyton House March test driver in 1989 and 90, wore stickers "Leyton House" during is Life préqualifying and drove a Brun Porsche 962 "Leyton House" ???

#28 fausto

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 10:43

Bruno Giacomelli was higly regarded by Robin Herd (involved with March/Leyton House), and also drove for Kremer in Gp. C racing, the german team had cars racing in Europe and Japan, sometimes with Leyton House sponsorship, add to this the fact that Leyton House man in Europe was Cesare Gariboldi (Ivan Capelli team manager since F.3000), and Gariboldi himself knew very well Giacomelli....