WHEN INTER RACED IN FORMULA ONE
This is a story few Interisti know about. Mainly because few racing fans know about it either. But, once upon a time, Inter (unofficially) had a racing team, which competed for a brief period in Formula One. This is the story of Scuderia Ambrosiania.
Scuderia Ambrosiana was founded by a group of Italian racers in 1937. Giovanni Lurani, Franco Cortese and Luigi Villoresi decided to pool together their resources as privateer drivers to make their racing operations more efficient, and the result was Scuderia Ambrosiana. The most prominent member of this trio was Villoresi, who secured new Maseratis for the new organsiation as one of the manufacturer's factory drivers.
Luigi Villoresi waiting for racing to get underway at Crystal Palace, with the team's logo brandished on his Maserati.
Lurani's role as a driver was brief however, a bad accident at Crystal Palace causing him injuries meaning he was no longer able to race. He turned to managing the team full-time afterwards. After WWII, Cortese left to join Enzo Ferrari's small organsiation, who were working on their own new car for 1949. A few years later Villoresi followed him, and the driving staff was now comprised entirely of Brits; Englishman David Hampshire and Scottish wheelman David Murray. In 1950, they finally secured their first major victory, the Nottingham Trophy. This inspired the team to enter Formula One's first ever World Championship GP at Silverstone, but the results were bad; 9th for Hampshire and a DNF for Murray. They also entered the French and Italian GPs that year, but Hampshire and Reg Parnell both retired at Reims, and Murray parked his broken Maserati at Monza.
The two Scuderia Ambrosiana cars line up 16th and 18th for the first ever Formula One race at Silverstone. David Murray (#5) lines up just behind team-mate David Hampshire (#6).
1951 would see the return of founder Franco Cortese, taking the team's biggest win in their brief history. At the wheel of a Frazer-Nash, he won the legendary Targa Florio race. But back in F1, their sporadic appearances continued to yield little results. It was just Murray in the top tier of motorsport this time, and another DNF in his home race was followed by a DNS in Germany, damaging his car in qualifying and unable to repair the damage for the race.
David Murray rolls out his Scuderia Ambrosiana Maserati 4CLT/48 F2 car from his own transporter at the 1951 Scottish Grand Prix, held at the disused RAF Winfield airfield. He was in the lead before a fuel pump failure on Lap 40 ended his race.
1952 saw yet more change. Cortese retired from driving and partnered Lurani in running the team, while Murray left and set-up his own Ecurie Ecosse team. For the next two years they stayed only in Formula Two Championship and non-championship F1 races, again with Hampshire and Parnell. However, by the end of '53, there was a chronic lack of money in the team, and they had no choice but to swap from Maserati to the cheaper and older Ferrari chassis.
In 1954, Reg Parnell was the only Ambrosiana driver left in Formula One, and once again, his car wouldn't go the distance at Silverstone. His partnership with Hampshire in F2 continued for another year, but the end was nigh. The team had run out of money, and closed its doors forever.
Parnell would continue racing for a while yet in non-championship F1, but his drive with SA in Britiain '54 was his last World Championship appearance as a driver. After his retirement from driving he founded Reg Parnell Racing, who would visit the podium twice with John Surtees under the Yeoman Credit Racing banner. As for Murray, his Ecurie Ecosse team would find success away from F1, winning the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours race twice. David Hampshire's career ended with the Scuderia Ambrosiana team, retiring at the end of the '54 season. Cortese left motor racing behind forever by 1956, but the other team owner, Lurani, would become an FIA official later on.
The team's greatest success; founding partner Franco Cortese wins the 1951 Targa Florio driving a Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica.
While the team itself may have not had much success, it did achieve something that took almost 70 years to happen again. It intertwined motor racing and football. The blue and black of the team's logo was because the founders were Interisti, a team founded on the values of the team. Back in a time where for the most part, drivers and teams of the same nation would stick together, that every entry the Milan-based team made to Formula One was with a Brit at the wheel, goes to show they reflected Internazionale Milano in more ways than just the colours.
Although, it's just as well they never hired Toni Branca. That would have been too scary a coincidence to have just been by accident.