By: Jeremy McMullen
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By: Jeremy McMullen
|Grand pix racers like to go it alone; there is no room for anybody else in a single-seater. When it comes to starting teams, grand prix racers like to go it alone; no ego struggle concerning who knows best how to run the team. Competitive juices lead to individual racers shying away from joining forces with other racers to create a team. However, when racers apparently believe in something higher than themselves it is quite possible a union could be forged. And in the case of Giovanni Lurano, Luigi Villoresi and Franco Cortese, their apparent belief in something higher led to the creation of Scuderia Ambrosiana.
Named after the patron saint of Milan, Saint Ambrose, Lurano, Villoresi and Cortese were placing their trust in the patron saint to deliver supernatural results. However, life and the lure of self interests attack unions and can reduce what could have been supernatural to nothing more than just average. And it's these occurrences, when there seems to be so much unfulfilled promise, that a person is left always asking the question, 'What could have been?'
Born in 1905, Giovanni Lurano became an engineer and a racer. Lurano competed in the Mille Miglia almost a dozen times and won three times. After taking part in the second Italo-Abyssinian War, Giovanno started Scuderia Ambrosiana with Villoresi and Cortese in 1937. While racing a Maserati 4CM at Crystal Palace in 1938, Lurano suffered a hip injury which led to his retirement from single-seat competition.
Villoresi, nicknamed 'Gigi', was born in 1909 and was the older brother of the talented Emilio Villoresi. The brothers would compete in races together during the early parts of their careers. In 1936, the brothers, who were from a rather wealthy family, ended up purchasing a Maserati that the two of them would take turns racing in different events. Emilio would end up being signed by Scuderia Ferrari, but while testing the Alfa Romeo chassis Emilio crashed and it ended up costing him his life. In 1937, Luigi joined forces with Lurano and Cortese driving a Maserati chassis. At the time, the main competition was the German Silver Arrows. Luigi would end up winning the South African Grand Prix in 1939, just prior to the outbreak of World War II. After the war, Villoresi went back to racing. He would continue driving Maserati cars, but would end up switching to Ferrari come 1949. He would end up taking part in Formula One's first season, but not for the team he helped found.
Cortese, another Italian born racer, was born in 1903 near Turin. Franco started racing in 1926 with Itala and would end up competing in the Mille Miglia a record 14 times. Cortese drove for some of the most famous teams, as well as, drove some of the most famous chassis in racing history. Franco drove for Scuderia Ferrari in 1930, but also had the privilege of driving cars from Alfa Romeo and Bugatti. Then, in 1937, Cortese began voiturette racing with Maserati. Cortese, however, is most remembered for his years with Ferrari, which produced several victories, including the 1947 Grand Prix of Rome and the 1950 Grand Prix of Naples.
Despite the force these drivers, together, represented, none of them were with the very team they founded when Formula One came into existence. In fact, on a team founded by Italian drivers, by 1950 and the start of Formula One, Scuderia Ambrosiana was comprised totally of United Kingdom drivers. Reg Parnell and David Hampshire were from Derby, England. David Murray was from Edinburgh, Scotland.
Reg Parnell would start out the season driving for Alfa Romeo but would switch to Scuderia Ambrosiana after Indianapolis. David Murray saw limited action throughout Formula One's first season, racing only the first and the last race on the F1 calendar. Travel to and from events was much more difficult in those days and few teams made it to every event and with the same drivers. Only those those truly fighting it out for the first ever driver's championship were the exception.