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Nino Vaccarella

4th March 1933 (Age 87)
Palermo, Sicily
Most recent race (in database):

Nino Vaccarella only make four Grand Prix starts and it was on the roads of his native Sicily that he was a living legend.

Background and early racing career

He was a law graduate who started to compete in local hillclimbs during 1956 driving his late father’s Fiat. He switched to a Lancia Aurelia and made his Targa Florio debut in 1957. His 14 starts on the event included three victories and two third place finishes.

He acquired a Maserati 200SI in 1959 and won a national sports car race at Enna-Pergusa. He joined Count Volpi's Scuderia Serenissima for 1961 with whom he enhanced his reputation in sports cars and made his Formula 1 debut. Fourth in the Targa Florio with the team’s Maserati T63 and third in Montlhéry’s Paris 1000Kms driving a Ferrari 250GT, he retired a De Tomaso-Alfa Romeo from his world championship debut in the Italian GP. He ended the season by finishing third in the minor Coppa Italia at Vallelunga with the team’s Cooper T51-Maserati.

For 1962, Vaccarella drove a selection of F1 machinery for the exotically named Scuderia SSS Republica di Venezia – Volpi having temporarily ceased using the Serenissima team name. That included GP starts in Germany (when 15th in a Porsche 718) and Italy (ninth, Lotus 24-Climax). He also finished third in that year’s Targa Florio with a Porsche 718 GTR.

Works Ferrari driver

Vaccarella had all-but turned his back on single-seater racing when he was offered a works Ferrari contract for the 1963 sports car season. Second place finishes at Sebring in 1963 and 1964 followed before his Ferrari 275P won both the 1964 Nürburgring 1000Kms and Le Mans 24 Hours when sharing with Ludovico Scarfiotti and Jean Guichet respectively.

Out of luck so far in Sicily, Vaccarella finally tasted victory in the Targa Florio in 1965 when he and Lorenzo Bandini beat a phalanx of Porsches by four minutes. Vaccarella also made a one-off and final return to the F1 World Championship when he drove a Ferrari 158 in that year’s Italian GP – classified 12th after his engine blew late in the race.

Sports cars with Alfa Romeo and Ferrari

There was a change of direction in 1968 for Vaccarella joined Alfa Romeo. He won national events at Mugello and Imola that year, and at Enna-Pergusa in 1969. He returned to Ferrari in 1970 and won a race in the World Sportscar Championship once more. He shared a Ferrari 512S with Mario Andretti and Ignazio Giunti in the 1970 Sebring 12 Hours and they outran the Steve McQueen/Peter Revson Porsche.

Regularly in the top four (including third on the Targa Florio) that year, he returned to Alfa Romeo for 1971. The highlight of that campaign was a second victory in the Targa but the 40 year old Vaccarella decided to retire from racing during 1973.

He did return on one occasion to win the 1975 Targa Florio sharing an Alfa Romeo T33/TT/12 with Arturo Merzario although the race had lost world championship status by then and only attracted a mediocre field. However, that was the third victory in what was truly "his" race.