Teams Scuderia Milano
|By Jeremy McMullen|
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Synonymous with grand prix racing are names like Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault, but it is the inclusion of names like Williams, Lotus, McLaren, Tyrell and others that makes grand prix racing so special. Each team and each engine is different, but all separately vying for the same thing—to be world champion. In Formula One, there isn't a common car and engine package, performance is widely varied, and yet, still in pursuit of the same goal. Many drivers, cars and teams disappear into the dusty pages of grand prix history, but all help to form the strong and indelible foundation of Formula One. Part of the mystique of Formula One is the many instances where fact and fiction are almost the same. Scuderia Milano is one of those known 'mysteries' of Formula One history. Their technical contributions are known, and yet, the team itself seems lost in the past.
Scuderia Milano, itself, was started by the Ruggeri brothers. Scuderia Milano has to be considered to actually start before the second world war. However, the story of Scuderia Milano immediately blends into the inconspicuous almost from the beginning. It is vague who the brothers names were, and if others with similar last names were their brothers as well. What is known is that before the war, Arialdo Ruggeri was racing and was one of the influential brothers that led to the formation of the 'Stable Milano'.
Arialdo started his racing career in 1938, but it was a difficult start. He took part in five races. However, in three out of the five races, Ruggeri suffered did not finishes (DNFs). One of the two races in which Arialdo was able to achieve a result was the Coppa Ciano in August of '38.
Ruggeri started the race from the third row in a Maserati 6CM (see Maserati article). This wasn't just a debut for Ruggeri at the Coppa Ciano, it was also the venue for the debut of the Alfa Romeo 158. In its debut, the 158 dominated throughout practice, qualifying and the race. The Alfas of Emilio Villoresi and Clemente Biondetti took 1st and 2nd. Arialdo ended up finishing the race 6th, one lap down.
In between a DNF at the Coppa Acerbo and the voiturette Milan Grand Prix, Ruggeri scored his only other good result in his first year of racing. At the Coppa Edda Ciano, in Lucca, Italy, Arialda and his Maserati 6CM was but one of a gaggle of Maseratis. In fact, the entire starting grid was made up of Maseratis. Villoresi scored the victory in a Maserati 6CM, while Ruggeri finished the race 8th.
If 1938 was a difficult debut, then '39 was a nightmare sophomore season for Arialda. Arialda entered three races in 1939. The Italian suffered DNFs in all three events. Ruggeri was then entered to take part in a fourth race for Scuderia Ambrosiana at the Swiss Grand Prix, but the team did not arrive for the race.
About the time of the Tripoli Grand Prix in May of 1940, the attack by Germany on Western Europe had begun. This meant grand prix racing on the European continent was drawing to a close. In a similar fashion, Ruggeri's difficult first few years as a racing driver were drawing to an end. But he had to suffer from at least one more DNF before the war. Unfortunately, his 6CM and the Tripoli Grand Prix obliged. His race for Scuderia Ambrosiana came to an end after the 16 laps.
Fortunately for Ruggeri, he was able to take part in one more race in 1940. He had one more chance to face the war holding his head up high. While he would not go on to win, Arialda would achieve a decent result; which was a victory compared to the DNFs he had been experiencing. The last race on European soil took place at the Targa Florio in Palermo, Italy. Given the effects of the war up to this point already, the race was mostly comprised of Italian drivers and car manufacturers. Twelve of the sixteen starters were driving Maserati 6CMs. The other four were driving 4CMs. Ruggeri, driving a 6CM for Scuderia Ambrosiana, started the race from the middle of the 3rd row. Villoresi took the pole in a 4CL and disappeared into the distance during the race. Villoresi won the race handily. Ruggeri was able to finish the race 5th, two laps down.
After the war, organizers were interested in attracting spectators back to grand prix races. One of the ways they had devised to do that was to offer attractive amounts of money to teams, besides the well-known and well-funded ones, who could create brand-new cars for competition. This was an important step since teams and drivers would return to car designs that were almost a decade old, or older, after the end of the war. If such incentives weren't offered grand prix racing would have limped out of the war as bad as some of the worst areas of war-torn Europe. These incentives gave birth to the technical legend Scuderia Milano is remembered.
It is always nice if one is able to come back after a time off from anything and have a successful return. Well, Scuderia Milano and Arialdo Ruggeri had been dormant throughout the time World War II raged on the European continent. When grand prix racing resumed for Ruggeri and Milano, a good result was the plan. Whether that plan came to fruition or not was the question. Scuderia Milano would get there good result, and then some. In 1946, Scuderia Milano, well and truly, exploded onto the scene.
The Grand Prix of Nice took place barely a year after the surrender of Germany, in April of 1946. It was the first grand prix race of the season. The street circuit in Nice was 2 miles in length. The race would consist of 65 laps. For the race, Milano was able to secure the drive of Luigi Villoresi. This proved to be a very good acquisition. Luigi went out and took the pole for the race in the team's Maserati 4CL. Arialdo started the race not too far back. Ruggeri started from 3rd. During the race, Ruggeri slipped back in the pack. Raymond Sommer, who started the race from 17th was on an absolute tear up through the field, and even led 9 of the 65 laps. Eugene Chaboud and Georges Grignard were also making their way up through the field after starting the race 8th and 9th respectively. Otherwise, Villoresi was gone and untouchable. Luigi would end up leading 56 of the 65 lap race and would lap the field before crossing the finish line 1st. Ruggeri finished rather well in 5th, some seven laps down to Luigi.
After the successful race at Nice, Ruggeri followed up the team's good result with another at the Coupe de la Resistance, which took place in Boulogne, France in May of '46. Despite taking the pole for the race, Raymond Sommer could not match the pace of others during the race and slipped back in the pack with his Maserati 6CM. Arialdo had a good race in his 4CL. Despite finishing a lap down to winner Wimille at the end of the 47 lap event, Ruggeri still managed to finish 3rd.
Then, in the early part of June, and only three days after the two year anniversary of D-Day, Ruggeri barely missed out on another podium finish, but Raymond Sommer, who was driving for Scuderia Milano at the event, was in a league of his own. At the Grand Prix de St. Cloud, 23 drivers were to take the green flag for the start of the race. Jean Lucas, in a privately entered Alfa Romeo 8C was unable to make the start. But of the 23 starters, only 12 were entries of teams. The remaining entrants were all privateers. So it was a large and varied field. Raymond Sommer had the pole in one of Milano's Maserati 4CLs. Sommer dominated the 30 lap event. He started from the pole and won the race. Henri Louveau, who drove a third 4CL for Scuderia Milano almost made it to half-way through the race before he had to retire due to shock absorber problems. Ruggeri ended up being lapped by Sommer but finished the race 4th.
At the end of June, Louveau was entered in a Scuderia Milano Maserati for the Roussillon Grand Prix in Perpignan, France. Though the event was 68 laps, the street course in Perpignan was rather short. At only 1.3 miles in length, the distance covered by the race in total would only be about 94 miles. Jean-Pierre Wimille took the pole for the race in an Alfa Romeo 308. When the cars were lined up on the grid before the start of the race, were someone to have taken a picture of it, it would have been the closest any other car would have been seen near Wimille for the rest of the day. When the race started, Wimille brought it to an end. He was gone. It was as if Jean-Pierre was driving a car and the rest were riding bicycles. Wimille won the race with a margin of 12 laps over 2nd place finisher Louveau. Though on paper this would seem like a good result for Milano, in reality it was an embarrassment.
The embarrassment at Perpignan didn't deter the team from appearing a month later at the Grand Prix d'Albi and the circuit des Planques. Louveau finished the race the same as in Perpignan, but the overall result was much better. Tazio Nuvolari scored his last victory, and did so by lapping the field on the 5.5 mile street course. Henri finished the 32 lap event one lap down in 2nd. Ruggeri also took part in the race, and was running at the end, albeit 17 laps down in 9th place.
Then, in August of '46, there was the Trois Villes Grand Prix in Marc-en-Baroeul, France. The team entered an 8CL for Raymond Sommer. Raymond promptly took pole for the 48 lap event. The course was a 3.2 mile street course and Sommer dominated it and the field. Sommer left everybody behind when the race began. In the end, Raymond would end up lapping the field. Pierre Levegh and Eugene Chaboud followed Sommer home in 2nd and 3rd, but it was as if Sommer was out on the track all by himself.
Back in the home country in September of 1946, Scuderia Milano was looking for a homecoming present, but was stiffed. Ruggeri entered the race along with Louveau. Ruggeri's race came to an end after 17 laps after his Maserati suffered from supercharger problems. Louveau made it to lap 30, halfway of the 60 lap event, before he was involved in an accident, which ruined his day.
Arialdo failed to qualify for the Circuito de Milano in September of '46, and then, suffered from supercharger problems again and was forced to retire from the Grand Prix du Salon, which took place in October. Henri's Grand Prix du Salon fared quite a bit better than Ruggeri's. Sommer took the win, completing the 80 laps in a little over two hours. Louveau finished 4th. Henri was six laps down.
Scuderia Milano looked to cap off what had been a rather amazing year. The team travelled to Barcelona, Spain to take part in the Grand Prix of Penya Rhin. The team wouldn't be disappointed about making the trip. The Pedralbes circuit was a 2.78 mile road course and the race distance was 80 laps. The team had a new driver for the race, Giorgio Pelassa, but he fit right in and got comfortable in the car even quicker. Pelassa was the class of the field in the team's 4CL. He would end up lapping the field up to 3rd place. Giorgio would go on to score the team's 4th victory for 1946.
Milano started out 1946 with a bang, scoring a victory in the first event they took part that year. They would follow that up with another bang to start out 1947.Page: 1 2 next >>