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Carlo Salamano was a professional racing driver in an era when most of his contemporaries were amateur. A Fiat man through-and-through, he joined the company as a mechanic before becoming a test driver in what was Europe’s leading racing team of the early 1920s.
Fiat entered the voiturette race at the inaugural Monza meeting in September 1922. Salamano was included in the race team for the first time and finished fourth as Fiats filled the top four.
Grand Prix winner for Fiat
The new supercharged Fiat 805 was developed for the 1923 Grand Prix season in complete secrecy. It was introduced at the French GP in Tours and immediately outpaced the field. However, one-by-one the Fiats were forced to retire with dust in their superchargers. Salamano was leading comfortably when he was the last Fiat to retire in the closing stages.
Fiat switched to Rootes superchargers for the Italian GP and Pietro Bordino dominated in heroic style – steering one handed after his arm had been injured in the practice accident that had cost his riding mechanic his life. Eventually Bordino retired in exhaustion and when veteran team-mate Felice Nazzaro pitted with 10 laps to go, Salamano was left to claim victory.
Salamano travelled to Brooklands a month later to represent Fiat in the Junior Car Club 200 and dominated the early stages with team-mate Malcolm Campbell before both retired.
Targa Florio accident and later life
He was entered for the 1924 Targa Florio but crashed his type 805 down a 20ft embankment after a puncture during practice. He was injured and thus unable to start. Salamano only raced occasionally thereafter but did win his class in the 1929 Alpine Cup. He worked as Fiat’s director of testing until his retirement. Married late in life, he remained a keen observer of the sport and developments in the motor industry until his death in 1969.
Carlo Salamano only raced at the highest level for one season but his GP win ratio (50 per cent) compares favourably with any driver of the modern era.