The longest Formula 1 circuit in history is Italian – Computerized cars, regulations studied to the thousandth and safety at the center. Today’s Formula 1 looks like a robot sport, but that wasn’t always the case.

A few years ago, F1 was raced on dusty roads, the single-seaters had wide wheels like those of a motorcycle and safety was practically non-existent. On Sunday the 72nd Formula 1 world championship will start on the Bahrain circuit, a futuristic track designed to host the racing cars of Hamilton and his teammates. It looks like another sport when compared to the Grand Prix that took place in in 1957.

The Abruzzo track still boasts a double F1 record: it was the longest track on which a race has ever been held (26 km, 3 km more than the famous Nurburgring); and to this day it is the only street circuit in Italy where a race valid for the world championship has been held.


Initially it was not planned to compete in, but the cancellation of the GP of Belgium and the Netherlands, opened the doors to the Italian track that had already hosted one of the most important car events of the time since 1924: the Coppa Acerbo.

The Grand Prix comes in the wake of a series of safety-related controversies. In fact, 1957 had been a fatal year for motoring: in March Eugenio Castellotti died in a tragic accident while testing his Ferrari on the Modena circuit; and in May, during the Mille Miglia di Guidizzolo, in Alto Mantovano, Alfonso de Portago had lost his life, always driving a red from Maranello. The judiciary, on the event, opened an investigation and Enzo Ferrari, in protest, had decided to boycott the GP. 16 drivers take part in the race and the only Ferrari to take to the track is the private one of Luigi Musso.

On Saturday the pole position was signed by the multiple world champion Juan Manuel Fangio on Maserati, followed by the English Stirling Moss on Vanwall and by Musso. Fangio is particularly keen to do well in, given its origins in Abruzzo.
Sixty-four years ago, on 18 August, race day, the sun shines and makes the air muggy. The starting grid is in the city, in Piazza Duca, along the National Adriatic.

The first curve is on the right and leads to the west, where the single-seaters whiz past dusty country roads, full of holes, which alternate with the narrow streets of villages such as Villa Raspa, Spoltore and Cappelle. Then turn left to go towards Montesilvano, towards the sea, along a very long straight with an evocative name: the kilometer launched. Here Fangio, a few years earlier, had set a record speed of 310 km / h. The circuit then turns left again and from Montesilvano returns to, on the National Adriatic, where the tour ends. At the start Musso immediately took the lead, putting both Fangio and Moss on.

The Englishman, however, has the most powerful car in the circus and overtakes the Argentine ace first and then the Italian. On lap 10, Ferrari betrayed Musso, who had to retire. Fangio climbs to second position, but doesn’t have the speed to go for Moss’ more powerful Vanwall. In the end the Englishman will win ahead of the Argentine and Harry Schell on Maserati, but it is not enough to stop Fangio’s race, who is crowned F1 world champion for the fifth and last time.

The Acerbo Cup, on the other hand, survived until 1961, when the last edition, valid for the Prototype Sports World Championship, was held under the name of ‘4 hours of’. It will be the swan song of the glorious race, which will disappear above all for safety reasons: a track in which the houses of a few centimeters are touched and the country roads have a non-existent asphalt, where thousands of people crowd along the track, had the its great charm but was no longer tolerable for modern racing.



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