Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born in Milan, Italy, Ascari had racing in his blood, as his father Antonio Ascari was a talented Grand Prix motor racing star in the 1920s, racing Alfa Romeos. Antonio was killed while leading the French Grand Prix in 1925 but the younger Ascari had an interest in racing in spite of it. He raced motorcycles in his earlier years; it was after he entered the prestigious Mille Miglia in a Ferrari sports car that he eventually started racing on four wheels regularly.
His racing career was interrupted by World War II, after which he began racing in Grand Prix with Maserati. His team-mate was Luigi Villoresi, who would become a mentor and friend of Alberto's. He won his first Grand Prix race in San Remo, Italy in 1948 and won another race with the team the following year. His biggest success came after he joined Villoresi on the Ferrari team; he won three more races that year with them.
Formula One career
The first official Formula One season took place in 1950, and the Ferrari team made its debut at Monte Carlo with Ascari, Villoresi, and the popular French driver Raymond Sommer on the team. Ascari finished 2nd in the race and later in the year shared a 2nd place at F1's first race in Monza. He was only 5th in the championship standings however. He won his first F1 race the following season on the Nurburgring circuit and added a win at Monza, finishing runner up to Juan Manuel Fangio.
With success in Europe, Enzo Ferrari supplied a car for Alberto in the Indianapolis 500, at the time an F1 event, in 1952. Ascari was the only European driver to race at Indy in its 11 years on the F1 schedule, but his day ended after 40 laps. That was the only time he didn't win an F1 race that season. Ascari's Ferrari dominated 1952, winning all six races in Europe that season and recording the fastest lap in each race. He nearly scored the maximum amount of points a driver could earn, but drivers were given points for fastest laps at the time, and he had to share a half point with another driver in one race.
He won three more consecutive races to start the 1953 season, giving him nine straight wins (not couting Indy) before his streak ended when he finished 4th in France, although it was a close 4th as the race was highly competitive. He earned two more wins later in the year to give himself a second consecutive World Championship. Ascari did not continue his dominance in 1954 as he failed to finish a race in his four attempts at F1, although he made up for it by winning the Mille Miglia.
His 1955 season started similarly, retiring twice more, the latter of which was a spectacular incident in Monaco where he crashed into a harbour after missing a chicane. A week later, on May 26, he went to Monza to test a Ferrari sports car and crashed on one of the track's tight corners. He was killed in the accident, a death which is still somewhat mysterious. The corner where the accident happened now bears his name, the Variante Ascari.
Alberto Ascari is interred next to his father in the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan.
- Grand Prix History - Hall of Fame, Alberto Ascari
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