Giannino Marzotto, nicknamed ‘The Flying Count’, was one of the most famous gentleman drivers, but his real job was in the textile industry. However, he was certainly made of the right material – so to speak – to race as a professional.
He went down in history for his race gear – donning a jacket, shirt and tie for every race, but they were his everyday clothes and it was normal for him to drive dressed like that. Marzotto’s victories included the Mille Miglia in 1950 and 1953 with the Ferrari 195 S and 340 MM. 1953 was also the same year that he came fifth in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with his brother Paolo in a 340 MM converted into a 375 MM Berlinetta but still with 3-litre engine. This result, and those achieved in the other races by the crews with the new 4,500 cc 375 MM helped Ferrari win the first World Sportscar Championship in 1953. The story of Matzotto and Ferrari started in 1948, when the driver met Enzo Ferrari at the factory to buy a 166 Inter Touring 2-litre. At that time a car could be customised from scratch, so Marzotto went to Maranello to do precisely that. The Marzotto family were excellent Ferrari customers, and Gianni, when racing with the Lancia Aprilia, demonstrated his speed. There he developed a frank relationship marked by mutual respect, although with no shortage of disagreements. To understand what sort of driver Marzotto was, suffice it to say that he used to change gears without the clutch, by ear, listening to the rising rev count. In October 1949 Ferrari tested him in the Vermicino-Rocca di Papa time trial, which Marzotto won. The following year, four members of the Marzotto family started the Mille Miglia with four Ferraris paid in cash – two 195 S models entered by Scuderia Ferrari for Giannino and his brother Vittorio, and two 166 MMs of Scuderia Marzotto for Paolo and Umberto.
The fans’ eyes were on the official cars of the more famous Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi, but at the end of a rain-soaked edition with 375 starters, Giannino Marzotto and Marco Crosara won in the 195 S Berlinetta Touring. They were followed by the sister car of motorcycle champion Dorino Serafini and Ettore Salani and the Alfa Romeo of Juan Manuel Fangio and Augusto Zanardi.
Vittorio Marzotto and Paolo Fontana finished in ninth position with the 195 S Barchetta, with coachwork by Fontana himself. However, the other two brothers had to retire. After 13 hours and 40 minutes of driving, at 22-years-old, Giannino Marzotto was the youngest winner of the Mille Miglia. There is an anecdote related to the pre-race – when Marzotto tested the car, he realised that it wasn’t running like the one he had driven before and sought guidance from Ferrari. He was told that the chief mechanic Luigi Bazzi had ‘strangled’ the engine to protect the safety of the young driver, and it was restored to full power for the race. This triumphal year for Marzotto also saw him in first place in the 3 hours of Rome and the Dolomites Gold Cup, again with the Ferrari 195 S and 166 MM