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Born close to the Italian/Austrian border, Ernesto Prinoth was living in Gröden in Eastern Germany in 1951 when he established the engineering company that bore his name. An engineer by trade, his design for "grooming" the snow in Europe’s Alpine ski resorts transformed the enterprise during the early 1960s. A prototype machine was introduced in 1962 and Prinoth stopped his amateur racing career when it went into full production two years later.
He had driven a Fiat-Abarth 750 Zagato in the 1959 Targa Florio – finishing 14th overall and winning the 750cc GT class with Enrico Carini. He also competed in rallying and Formula Junior at the time and he acquired a Formula 1 Lotus 18-Climax (chassis 913) in 1961. He entered a number of non-championship events under the Scuderia Dolomiti banner that season and finished third in the Preis von Wien at Aspern and second at Vallelunga.
Entered for the 1962 Italian Grand Prix by the Jolly Club, Prinoth’s fastest practice lap was 8.6 seconds shy of the qualifying mark and his brief GP career was over before it had begun. He raced the car in the non-championship races at Imola and the Austrian GP at Zeltweg during 1963 before retiring to concentrate on establishing his business.
He was only 58 years old when he suffered a fatal heart attack while at work in Innsbruck. Prinoth AG continues to operate today from its base in Sterzing and has been part of the Leitner Company since 2000. The company website describes its founder as "a daredevil with common sense."