Luigi Musso he made his debut in 1953 at the Italian Grand Prix driving a Maserati. The following year he still remained in the Italian team, with which he obtained a second place in Spain. In 1955 he continued with the house of the trident, but the victory still did not come. This was won at the 1956 Argentine Grand Prix with Ferrari, paired with Fangio.
In 1957 he achieved his best career result finishing third in the drivers’ standings. In 1958 he still remained at the Red team, with which he won two second places in the first two races, temporarily taking the lead in the championship.
Musso’s rise ended tragically during the French Grand Prix on 6 July 1958, where he did not survive the injuries sustained in an accident in the famous Curva del Calvaire of the Reims circuit. The world title was won by team mate Mike Hawthorn.
(Rome July 29, 1924 – Reims July 6, 1958) was an eclectic character. Difficult to interpret, obscure in his unpredictable reactions, fearless if he woke up in the right mood, childish and unreliable on bad days.
We decided to define it “leone“Because on the track he really knew how to be a king, fierce and courageous, and because in everyday life he was indolent, like the ruler of the savannah and… it depended on the women who were next to him. Unfortunately, he was a victim of his own vices: he smoked until the last second available before the start of each race, he squandered money in casinos, he never knew how to be satisfied. But speed ran through his veins and his opponents knew it.
Luigi Musso was born in Rome in 1924 from an extremely wealthy family: his father Giuseppe was an enterprising diplomat and businessman, who had built his fortune in China, and upon his return, he had founded ICI, a film production company of success. Luigi was the last born, the most pampered, raised in a wonderful villa near Via Veneto, between luxury and opulence, revered by waiters and butlers. Unfortunately at the age of 16 he lost his father, losing not only an important figure in the family, but also a guide who made him understand the value of money, sacrifice and the importance of work. He had two brothers, Luciano and Giuseppe and two sisters Elena and Matilde.
In 1945 he bought his first car, a Fiat Topolino, despite not having a driving license yet. In 1947 his brother Giuseppe started racing with Alfa Romeo, but it was Luigi who had motoring in his blood. Tall, thin, always very elegant, he seemed to many unsuitable for the life of a pilot. Too moody, too spoiled. They thought he was the usual rich man who wanted to take off the whim of competing and then end up in the magazines and bask in his ephemeral success. Luigi, on the other hand, really wanted to run.
He began to prepare for his future career by studying, analyzing the circuits, the trajectories, trying to understand the fundamental physical laws, in short, a truly theoretical approach, but which will then allow him to become a precise and very attentive driver. He was not a reckless one: he knew very well that with those cars you died, and he was determined to win without too many risks. He was not one who spared himself, but he preferred to calculate rather than risk. It will in fact be a gamble to take it away. In everyday life, on the other hand, the head shots were continuous: casinos were his Achilles heel. He played incredible and lost figures, he really lost a lot, but always with elegance.
He never gave up on anything, luxury was necessary for him … on the other hand he was born in luxury, it was in his DNA. He often invested in bad deals, but he never took too long to think about it. Things slipped on him. When he seriously started running he struck success after success.
The beginnings were aboard a Maserati, the only truly profitable investment, he raced on all the most important occasions, often winning rich prizes and gradually making a name for himself in the racing world. In 1953 he won the title of Italian Absolute Sport Champion. In 1954 he finished second in the Targa Florio on Maserati A6GCS and third in the Mille Miglia on Maserati A6GCS number 500 with Augusta Zocca, in 1954 he was first at the Pescara GP (not titled), in 1953 he became Italian Sport Champion class 2000 and two years later Champion Italian Sport class over 2000. Formula 1 was still his real goal. He wanted to get high.
In 1954 he began his short, but incisive, adventure in the F1 circus, as an official driver of the Maserati team. Despite some important successes (in 1955 he finished third at the Dutch GP, behind Fangio and Moss and beating his closest friend-enemy: Eugenio Castellotti, who raced for the Scuderia di Maranello, but knew that to reach his the right Scuderia was only one: Enzo’s Rossa. On April 30, 1955, he took part in the Mille Miglia with the number 651 Maserati A6GCS but was unable to complete the race.
Relations with the Drake were never completely serene, Musso often felt neglected to the advantage of his teammates and Ferrari did not like the Roman’s vices and delusions of grandeur … However, his debut with Ferrari is dated 1956, the year in which he obtained his most beautiful victory at the Argentine GP.
Also in 1956 Musso raced the Mille Miglia in a Ferrari 850 Monza number 556, finishing 3rd. At the end of the same year, the team’s drivers were presented: Luigi Musso, Eugenio Castellotti, Alfonso de Portago, Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins. A host of champions with a sad fate already sealed. Musso knew that, in addition to competing with his opponents, the first to beat were his teammates.
In 1957 he won the 1000 miles of Buenos Aires. His notoriety was at the highest level, and the Italian public praised him. The death of Castellotti (Modena 14 March 1957), however, marked him deeply, and he was so impressed that he also changed in character. Alfonso de Portago also died in May.
In 1958, despite being the only Italian to compete for the world title, he was demoted to third driver behind Hawthorn and Collins, because the previous year at the Monza GP, he had refused to sell his car to Fangio. His desire for redemption is great. And the best opportunity for him was to conquer the top step of the podium in Reims. Victory also meant a prize of 15 million, a sum necessary for him to solve his enormous financial problems.
Unfortunately he hadn’t come to terms with that damned curve that everyone called the Calvaire. On 6 July 1958 Luigi was second behind Hawthorn on lap 10. Al Calvaire Luigi decides not to lift his foot off the accelerator to pass the opponent at the corner exit. But no one could do the Calvaire in flood, everyone knew that. For Luigi it is the end.
He died at the age of 34 and joined his friend Eugenio Castellotti. That day for the first time he had not respected his superstitious ritual: the last person to talk to him before the race was not his partner Fiamma …
Collins died a month later. And in 1959 it was Hawthorn’s turn. Two years of mourning that deeply marked the history of F1.