The Giro d’Italia car race, “Domenica del Corriere”, 12 May 1901.

An automobile reconnaissance for the Giro d’Italia

We have spoken several times about the largest automotive event of the year, the Giro d’Italia race, which will be held from the 27th of April to the 13th of May, in which the most famous drivers from Italy and abroad will participate. This journey of 1,742 kilometers will begin in Turin.
Cav. Agnelli, active and meritorious secretary of the Automobile Club of Turin, wanted to make a kind of reconnaissance of the entire route, and departed Thursday, 25th January, in a 8-horsepower vehicle produced by F.I.A.T. (Fabbrica Italiana d’Automobili Torino, or Italian Car Factory of Turin), along with the well-known F.I.A.T. mechanic, Felice Nazzaro.
Cav. Agnelli, nearly always impeded by bad weather in the form of snow, ice and rain, with the added challenge of many newly-graveled roads, followed the following itinerary: 25th-26th January: Turin-Viareggio, 372 km; 27th Jan: Viareggio-Poggibonsi, 146 km; 28th Jan: Poggibonsi-Rome, 309 km; 29th Jan: rest stop in Rome; 30th Jan: Rome-Perugia, 192 km; 31st Jan: Perugia-Fossombrone, km 98; 1st February: Fossombrone-Bologna, 185 km; 2nd Feb: Bologna-Vicenza, 155 km; 3rd Feb: Vicenza-Milan, km 219. In all, with the return to Turin, 1900 km.
Despite the bad weather and the state of the roads, Cav. Agnelli did not have any mishaps on his trip, except for a minor skid into a ditch near Ferrara, which resulted in no harm to the occupants or the vehicle.
In this way, he could check the ascents, curves and all those other details that are important for the Giro d’Italia participants to know.
Wherever Cav. Agnelli went, he was enthusiastically welcomed by the drivers from the various cities he crossed, and returned very satisfied from his trip. This test drive, so successfully accomplished, also brings honor to the factory that produced the vehicle.
Friends of Cav. Agnelli are organizing a congratulatory lunch in his honor.

“La Stampa”, 6 February 1901

Giovanni Agnelli with Felice Nazzaro driving the Fiat 8 HP for the trial run of the Giro d’Italia, 1901.
Team Fiat after winning the Emperor’s Cup on the Taunus circuit. On the right, next to the car: Giovanni Agnelli. Standing, on the left: Ludovico Scarfiotti; at the steering wheel: Bugatti; next to Bugatti, Felice Nazzaro; behind and above Nazzaro: Vincenzo Lancia; Louis Wagner with flag, 1907.

Vanderbilt Cup race, 1905

On the fifth lap, Lancia was 15 minutes ahead. He had gone over the straightaway parts of the course at a speed as high as eighty miles an hour, it was said in the grandstand.
His friends feared that he would meet with disaster, and as he passed at the beginning of the fifth lap, they shouted at him to slow down. He paid no heed to them.
There was a terrible, set expression on his face. He crouched low in his big 100-horsepower Fiat, his hand tightly gripping the wheel. As he flashed over the tape past the grandstand the men and women there went wild.
Fast as the winning cars proved themselves, they seemed slow beside Lancia, in his flyng Fiat car, which for two hundred miles averaged between seventy and seventy-two miles an hour, when an unfortunate collision with the Christie car in next to the last lap ruined its chances, thought at that Lancia managed to finish fourth, only two minutes behind Tracy.
Lancia gave what was probably the most wonderful exhibition of speed ever seen in motor race.

“The Washington Times”, 14-15 October 1905

Vincenzo Lancia (left) and his Fiat n. 4 at the Vanderbilt Cup race, 1905, Library of Congress.

The President thanked the Board on behalf of Agnelli and acknowledged the valuable help of his colleagues Weill-Schott and the Count of Groppello during the Vanderbilt race. He briefly mentioned the impression that the splendid but unfortunate Lancia race had made on the American public.
He explained that the four members [Scarfiotti, Agnelli, Weill-Schott, Groppello] of the trip had spent 24,000 lire on their journey, but that only a quarter of that sum would be charged to the factory.

Minutes of the Board of Directors meeting,
13 November 1905


Ted Tetzlaff’s Fiat S 61 at the start of the race in Tacoma, 1912.
Santa Monica speed race, California, 1912. Tetzlaff (“Terrible Teddy”) and his Fiat S 61 during a pit stop.