Here’s a translation of the complete article, mainly courtesy of Google Translate but with a few changes made by me after consulting my Italian dictionary. No guarantees as to accuracy:
The life and exploits of the great champion from Galliate, from his debut on bikes to his triumphs with cars.
Achille Varzi was born on 8 August 1904, the third son of Menotti Varzi and Giuseppina Colli Lanzi. Menotti was the brother of Ercole, industrialist and later a senator, founder of Manifattura Rossari e Varzi.
Achille's first sporting love was the motorbike that he used first for pleasure, going to school and running errands for the company, and soon for competitive sport.
"You may question why I started with motorcycles when I had such passion for cars. Simply, the motorcycle happened to be the first - how to say? - motorized transport in my hands. We had to go to school, my two brothers and I, as fast as possible according to my father. So it was that we began to ... do it quickly, that is, to race ”. - Achille Varzi
From 1922 onwards he became one of the leading contenders in motorcycle sport. He raced a "Garelli 350", smoked "Macedonia" blond tobacco and projected his own image: crew-neck sweater, knickerbocker pants and leather boots.
In 1923 he had his first successes in the Italian championships and, immediately, his first Italian title. In 1924 he moved into the 500 class. He raced a Frera, then switched to Norton and then to a "Sunbeam". His first clashes on track with Tazio Nuvolari began.
The years which followed were years of national and international victories where Varzi and Nuvolari took turns on the podium.
Tazio Nuvolari was born in Castel d’Ario (Mantova) in 1892. He was a legend of motorcycling and motor racing in the pioneering era, known for his exceptional courage and great ability to get his vehicle to the finish in every kind of adverse situation.
In 1926 the automotive saga of Achille Varzi began, with one of the legendary "Bugatti 1500, four cylinder" cars. The legendary rivalry began between Varzi and Nuvolari on the Monza track, in the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio and other international circuits. Varzi and Nuvolari would become team mates at Alfa Romeo, under the direction of Enzo Ferrari.
"This racing driver was a real man: intelligent, calculating, aggressive when necessary, quick to take advantage of the first weakness, the first error, the first problem for the opponent. I would say ruthless and not easy to understand ... stubborn as few people are ... ".
1933 should be remembered as the official birth of what we now call the Lottery Race. For the first time a lottery was combined with a car race: the Tripoli Lottery that in that year was won by Varzi followed by Nuvolari.
In the mid-1930s he switched to Auto Union and began a relationship with the charming Ilse Hubach, wife of driver Paul Pietsch. With the competitive season underway he began suffering serious pain caused by appendicitis. He didn’t want to interrupt his racing, so Ilse suggested he soothe the pain with morphine. This had a devastating effect that jeopardised his growing sporting career.
Achille Varzi had a renaissance after the war. In May 1945 drivers, engineers and journalists combined to form a committee to revive motor racing. Varzi appeared transformed and started to race again, with new successes in Buenos Aires, Rosario, Interlagos. He got to know the "Argentinian Equipe" and its drivers, in particular Juan Manuel Fangio, son of Italians who emigrated to Argentina.
On Thursday 1 July 1948 he was in Switzerland practising on the Bremgarten circuit. In the late afternoon steady rain was falling. Varzi was at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 158. After a few laps the car hit a stream of water. Suddenly, near the Jordenrampe curve, the car skidded on the wet asphalt at more than 170kmh and began to spin, striking the barrier. After a bend it left the road along the embankment that ran along the spur and slowly turned over, trapping the driver. The rescuers found Varzi already lifeless, crushed by the weight of the car. He died that afternoon. The tragedy, triggered by Varzi's first real mistake, cost him his life.
At the funeral, in Galliate, all the champions of the time were present except for Tazio Nuvolari, whose health was rapidly declining: the previous year he had collapsed at the finish of the Mille Miglia. The Equipo Argentino drivers moved to Galliate, first in the Villa Varzi, then in Via Carducci, giving life to the team that, led by Fangio, picked up Varzi's sporting legacy.
On August 11, 1953, Tazio Nuvolari died. His had been a slow but inexorable decline. His lungs, which had breathed gasoline fumes for years and years, had finally given way.
The Formula One was upon us.