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GP della Toscana Ferrari 1000 - A bit of history

Maranello 10 July 2020

On 3 February 1900 the ‘Club Automobilisti Fiorentini’ (Florence Motoring Club) was founded in Florence – the fourth such organisation in Italy after similar clubs in Milan, Turin and Padua. The first race organised by the association was the Pontassieve-Passo della Consuma, which later became known as the Coppa della Consuma, which was first held on 15 June 1902. In 1914 it was decided to organise a much more demanding race: the “Circuito Automobilistico Toscano” to be held on the Mugello loop: 67.5km of ups and downs around the province of Florence – which was completed four times by 36 cars in the first race on 21 June 1914. The first winner was Milan’s Eugenio Silvani in a Diatto. One week later Europe sank into the nightmare of the First World War and no further motor races took place until 1920, when the “Circuit of Mugello” was defined for the first time.

From that year onwards the best drivers of the age took to the 66 dusty kilometres that led from Scarperia to Firenzuola before turning back from Futa to San Piero a Sieve and finally returning to Scarperia: Giuseppe Campari, Gastone Brilli Peri, Antonio Ascari, Baconin Borzacchini plus, naturally, local idol Emilio Materassi. Among the winners in 1921 was a certain Enzo Ferrari, who prevailed at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo in the class of cars of 4.5 litres and less. Living in the shadow of the prestigious Mille Miglia, the circuit was finally abandoned after the 1929 edition. It wasn’t until 1955 that an attempt was made to bring it back to life, using a 19km course to host a race that was won by the Ferrari 750 Monza driven by Italy’s Umberto Maglioli.

The original circuit returned to action in the Sixties with a reasonable following of fans, but in 1970 a fatal accident forced the organisers to suspend competition on Mugello’s street circuit. In order not to abandon the tradition of motoring that had taken root in the region, the Firenze Automobile Club decided to invest and build a purpose-built circuit on an area of about 170 hectares. Work began in 1972 and the task of leading the new track project and all the associated works was assigned to the engineer Gianfranco Agnoletto. The first race on the new track took place in 1974: the ninth round of the European Formula 5000 Championship which was won by Britain’s David Hobbs, already a Formula 1 driver, at the wheel of a Lola.

In 1988 the circuit was bought by Ferrari, which began a major programme of restructuring, including the best existing infrastructure and continually adding to it while keeping the original design of the circuit unchanged – and very demanding for the drivers. The track became a temple of motorcycling but it also hosted many car races, both for tin-tops and for open-wheeled cars.

Starting in the Nineties Scuderia Ferrari used Mugello for long sessions of testing that had a major contribution to making the cars extremely successful during the era of Jean Todt and Michael Schumacher. The circuit also hosted various editions of the Ferrari World Finals, the date that marks the end of the Maranello company’s sporting season. This is a party featuring the stars of the Scuderia that sees the 5,245 metres of the Mugello circuit swarming with historic Formula 1 cars, prototypes from the XX programmes and cars from the three continental series of the Ferrari Challenge, the Prancing Horse’s single-make championships. For Ferrari the Mugello Circuit is a kind of second home, so there could not be a better track on which to race for the thousandth grand prix of Scuderia Ferrari’s time in Formula 1.