A few days ago, the film “Ferrari,” directed by Michael Mann and starring Adam Driver, was released in Italian cinemas. The movie revisits tragic, intense, and intimate moments in the life of Enzo Ferrari, also delving into the competitive aspect. It covers difficult years when the death of drivers was almost a daily occurrence, portraying men as heroes burning with a passion for competition that knew no limits. Building on this theme, Giorgio Terruzzi dedicated his latest article in Autosprint to the dark side of motorsport.
“So, my emotion, my feeling, watching ‘Ferrari’ was triggered by those guys. The racers from the 1950s. In 1957, Eugenio Castellotti died during a test in Modena. He was considered the natural heir to Alberto Ascari, who had mysteriously disappeared at Monza while testing Castellotti’s Ferrari (even though he had switched to Lancia). Also in 1957, the tragic end of the Mille Miglia (first edition in 1927) occurred with the accident that took away Alfonso de Portago, his ‘second’ Edmund Gunnar Nelson, and nine spectators in Cavriana, near Guidizzolo, Mantua. Both accidents appear in the film, as well as other Ferrari drivers. Collins, Taruffi, who won that last Mille Miglia by deciding to stop immediately, keeping the promise made to his wife Isabella. They are portrayed, all of them, as young men endowed with carefree recklessness, vital energy destined for the brutal violence of those competitions. Young men in love—with speed and the women who accompanied them into a fate of extremely high risk, to whom they left farewell letters before a race, uncertain if they would return from those curves, straights, and that inferno,” wrote the journalist.
“The meaning to give to life”
60 years have passed, but certain questions, certain doubts, still linger today. News of deaths in motorsport, now much safer, still makes one reflect, especially when it involves young people. A few months ago, Dilano Van’t Hoff, an 18-year-old competing in FRECA, passed away, while earlier in the season, other riders in the lower categories of MotoGP had fatal accidents. One may wonder why they do it, and they respond that it’s a passion within them. Perhaps, more than simple enthusiasm, it’s a way to discover what makes them feel alive.
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“They smiled, joked, faced their time with a courage that is impressive and moving because, in this motorsport junction, there is a knot of our existence. There is the price of intensity, vitality, to be paid according to choice, attitude, intimate desire. The charm of motorsport lies here. It lies in a dramatic yet sports story. Where the risk is understood, deliberate, hence spectacular. Deaths from racing accidents, nothing to do with the ‘dark side.’ Deaths for the joy of living. And for this, they are ready to immerse themselves in a universe that, seen today, is frightening, awe-inspiring. I believe it would be awe-inspiring even for those who are pilots today, in conditions of greater safety. Where men like us, take, go, accelerate, challenge, showing something mysterious and, at the same time, magnificent. The possible meaning to give to life, putting life in supreme danger. Until losing it, what does it matter? Sooner or later, it will end anyway. So, let me be, let me go into my magnificent, absurd, legendary enjoyment,” Giorgio Terruzzi concluded.