Alfa Romeo: The Rise and Fall of the Racing Team

The name Alfa Romeo is associated with high performance and elegance. Few know that Alfa Romeo was the “mother” of Ferrari.

Without a doubt the first cars built by Alfa were excellent examples of advanced auto-engineering and innovative design. This winning combination appealed to the Italian market enabling the company to expand, soon becoming the leading reference for other car manufactures.

Alfa entered its first racing team into the famous Sicilian Targa Florio competition in 1910 with the 24 HP model. The car was a sensation not only for winning the race but it demonstrated Alfa’s ability to create cars that were robust, technically advanced but moreover powerful, reaching a top speed of 100km/h which was unheard of at that time.

Soon after its explosive start onto the racing scene, many victories came to Alfa on racing tracks all over Europe. It continued to dominate motor racing for the next 5 decades.

In the autumn of 1929 Enzo Ferrari made an agreement with Alfa to provide cars for his newly founded Scuderia Ferrari, an association which was created to enable its members the opportunity to compete in motor racing. This agreement was made possible because Ferrari had worked within Alfa for many years in various important roles. Ferrari left the company as director of Alfa Racing Team in 1939.

The Grand Prix of Great Britain in 1951 started the decline of the Alfa. The company was in financial trouble so decided to quit motor racing. Incidentally, this was the same Grand Prix race in which the Scuderia Ferrari team first won with its own cars.
Enzo Ferrari is quoted after the race saying ‘Gonzales on a Ferrari, for the first time in our history,we left behind the Alfa 159 and the entire Team Alfa, I cried tears of happiness, but mixed were some tears of enthusiasm with some of pain, since I thought that day “I killed my mother”’(Enzo Ferrari, Ferrari 80, Off. Grafiche Arbe, 1981)

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Photography: Nadine Andrews

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