Perhaps not everybody knows that the Monaco Grand Prix was not always a Formula 1 affair. Before it became one of the key F1 races, between 1929 and 1952 other categories and sports cars competed in the famous race. That last year holds a special place in the history of the Prancing Horse, because on 2 June 1952 a Maranello car claimed its first victory in the Principality.
Vittorio Marzotto triumphed at the wheel of the 225 S Spyder Vignale, followed by four more 225 S cars, with Eugenio Castellotti, Antonio Stagnoli, paired with, Clemente Biondetti, Jean Lucas and “Pagnibon”, the pseudonym of Pierre Boncompagni – a Frenchman of Italian descent. The race for sports cars of 2 litres and above was squeezed between the Mille Miglia and the 24 Hours of Le Mans and, while some drivers didn’t attend, others did so to prepare for Le Mans. Not all teams had the budget to handle all three events. However, 20 cars were nevertheless enrolled, with Ferraris, Jaguars, Aston Martins, Gordon’s and Talbot-Lagos supervised directly by the manufacturers. The Ferraris bore the colours of the Marzotto and Guastalla teams, and the four 225 S cars entered were powered by V12 2,715 cc engines, with an output of 210 hp, with the body by Vignale either the closed or open version. There was also a 340 America, with bodywork by Paolo Fontana, entered for Piero Carini.
Unfortunately, Luigi Fagioli was involved in what appeared a minor accident during practice, but died of his injuries a month later. Exiting a tunnel, Fagioli’s Lancia Aurelia skidded violently into the wall. The driver was saved by his helmet, but three weeks later suddenly deteriorated and died just after his 54th birthday. Several accidents during the race knocked out several other drivers, including Stirling Moss. Marzotto crossed the line first after 100 laps, in a time of 3 hours and 21 minutes, covering a distance of 314 km! More than just a Grand Prix, it had evolved into an endurance race.
Vittorio was the oldest of the four Marzotto brothers, all drivers, and he raced between 1948 and 1955 almost exclusively with Ferrari – notching up strong results and a win in the 1952 Giro di Sicilia. However, Monaco was his most important victory and one that cemented his name in racing history, providing Ferrari with the first of its nine wins to date on the famous street circuit.