1955-1971 THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE HIGH SPEED TRACK
 
In 1955 it was decided to undertake works which would transform the entire installation, making it more functional. A circuit with total lenght of 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) was put back m use including, like the original 1922 plan, a road section and a high-speed section meeting the new competition requirements and suitable for record attempts. A loop with two banked curves was built following the 1922 plan except that the track was set back on the south side to allow for an underpass and there was an intersection with the road circuit similar to the original one.
Concerning the road course, lenght was reduced by shortening the central straight and the grandstand straight and building on the south a curve with a single. pitch and a slight cross slope. This curve had an increasing radius toward the exit and was called the "parabolic" for this reason. It replaced the two porphy- paved curves. The lenght of this course was 5,750 metres (3.57 mi). The new high-speed track was 4,250 metres (2.64 mi) long and was built on reinforced concrete structures instead of an earth embankment as originally. The two big banked curves with radii of 320 metres and superelevation with slope increasing progressively to 80% in the top band were calculated for theoretical top speeds of approximately 285 kilometres per hour (177 mph).
A view of Curva Sud on the high speed track during 1955 Italian GP.
 

Other improvements to the facilities were the construction of two large towers with luminous scoreboards set at the sides of the central grandstand and fourteen steel towers (seven along the road circuit and seven along the high speed track) to give the race positions along the track, new race control offices, thirty-nine promotion stands, a two-storey press pavilion, and removal of the stand that had stood outside the now obsolete "porphyry" curves.

The full 10-kilometre circuit was used for the Italian automobile Grand Prix races in 1955, 1956 1960 and 1961. The high-speed track, in addition to numerous record attempts by cars and motorcycles, was used in 1957 and 1958 for the Monza 500 Mile races open to Indianapolis Formula cars and counting for award of the Two Worlds Trophy offered as prize by the Monza City Administration, a first experiment in bringing to Europe the famous American champions with their powerful single-seaters.

Junior track was realised in 1959 and supplied with illumination plant for nightly races in 1965.
 
The 1957 event was practically deserted by European constructors, and particularly the Italians. Jimmy Brian with his Dean Van Lines Special won two heats out of three and won the competition with a general average of 257.594 km/h (160 mph) and fastest lap of 282.809 km/h (175 mph). Italian car constructors showed some interest the following year and entered against the Indianapolis specialists two Ferraris (a 4,000 cc and a 3,000 cc) driven respectively by Luigi Musso and Harry Shell, and a very special Maserati sponsored by the Eldorado icecream company and driven by Stirling Moss.
Presenting small F.Monza 875 cars,
which competed at the first edition of Trofeo Cadetti in 1965.
 
Musso achieved the best time in practice with an average of 281 km/h and, with the collaboration of Mike Hawthorn and Phil Hill, the car placed third in the final classification, Moss with the Maserati-Eldorado taking seventh. Jim Rathmann won with his Zink Leader Gard Spl. at over 268 km/h average. The lack of experience of the Italian cars was expected, but the American single-seaters had only some tire problems on the extremely fast track with its high banked curves. Their stout frames absorbed without difficulty the severe stresses caused by centrifugal forces. But developments were different for the Formula 1 single-seaters, new construction techniques imported from England such as rear engine, monocoque or in any case very light bodies, which were unable to resist the stresses of the banked curves, began to gain acceptance in those very years.

The tragic 1961 Italian Grand Prix run on the full 10-kilometre circuit and saddened by the fatal accident that cost the life, at the entrance to the 'parabolic" curve, of Von Trips in a Ferrari and eleven spectators, marked the end of the use of the high speed track for Grand Prix single-seaters. But it was used for the Monza 1,000 Kilometre, reserved for the Sports, Prototype and Grand Touring categories, from 1965 to 1969. The first of these races run on the track without chicanes was won by Parkes-Guichet in a Ferrari 330 P2.

Starting in 1966 there were two permanent chicanes at the entrance to the banked curves and the course was 100 metres longer. Winners of those races were Surtees-Parkes in a Ferrari 330 P2 in 1966, Bandini-Amon in a Ferrari 330 P4 in 1967, Hawkins-Hobbs in a Ford GT 40 in 1968, and Siffert-Redman in a Porsche 908 in 1969. In 1970 the 1,000 Kilometre was moved to the 5,750-metre road circuit and the first edition was won by Rodriguez at the wheel of the Porsche 917. To make better use of the circuit, in 1959, following the growing number of entrants in the junior training formula, which used single-seaters powered by stock 1,100 cc engines (usually Fiat 1100 or Lancia Appia), a track link was created connecting the grandstand straight with the central straight on the north. This weaving link gave rise to a course which included the parabolic curve and originally measured 2,405 metres. On this short track were run Junior Formula races and other automobile and motorcycle competitive events.

Porsche 917 (n° 8) and Ferrari 512 (n° 1)
entering Curva Parabolica during warm up of 1000KM in 1970.
 
In 1961 a vast safety works plan was put into effect, involving the entire 10-kilometre combined circuit and including modern protective systems using carefully designed and built reinforced fences as well as guard rails. In 1963 the pit area was entirely rebuilt, tearing down the existing building which contained twenty-four refuelling pits and twenty-two promotion pits. The works included the building of a service lane protected by a low wall in front, the rebuilding further back of thirty refuelling pits and eight others for industries while a 3-storey building with bathrooms was built for race control officials.

Meanwhile in 1962, at the request of the Italian Period Car Federation, a pavilion was built behind the garage fence to house motor cars and vehicles of historical interest. This is a modern building with original architecture, with a rhombus-shaped floor plan and a roof consisting of two domical vaults with a triangular plan. This pavilion occupies an area of 850 square metres and contains numerous standard and competition models including some rare items which are witnesses to the evolution of vehicle engineering from its beginnings.
A group of Fiat 128 of tourism category entering Parabolica at the beginning of Coppa Carri in 1971.
 

On the initiative of the Autodrome, starting in 1964 a new training formula began to take shape, the Monza Formula reserved for midget single-seaters powered by flat-twin Fiat 500 engines. Starting in 1965 a trophy was set up for these cars with a series of races which took place mainly at night. To make these races possible the Junior course was equipped with a lighting installation with 218 tungsten floodlights mounted on fifty supporting poles spaced approximately fifty metres apart and beamed in such a way as to avoid blinding.

In this same period works were completed to improve safety condition on the "parabolic" curve, where the embankment which had caused the fatal accident of which the Swiss driver Spychiger was the victim in the 1965 1,000 Kilometre was set back twenty-five metres, while the area between the track and the new, embankment was converted into a deceleration zone with a sand bed. In addition to events for all categories of cars and motorcycles, a large variety of activities had been carried on at the Autodrome for years. Starting in 1950, when the track was not being used for races, official practice or exclusive engagements, it had been opened for unrestricted driving by the public for a small fee. In the internal area were created a camping ground, an olympic swimming pool with auxiliary facilities, a circular track for model cars, all of which offered a considerable attraction to the public.

On the track, in addition to the normal racing activity and numerous record attempts, new models of automobiles were presented, and there were fuel economy runs and technical tryouts of many kinds. In the large hall under the central grandstand several sports fashion shows were held. An event inaugurated in 1966 and still very lively, held at the beginning of September at the same time as the major Italian motor events, is the Autodrome Festival. Its most significant expression is the sports vehicle and accessory show, which is housed in a special pavilion made of demountable structures erected on the lawn between the two main straights, behind the Autodrome village.



Races contested on the high speed track.
 

Each year, this pavilion is host to cars intended for the practice of motor sports and included in the price list of their respective builders, but single items of particular interest are also on view; at the first Festival was presented the famous Lotus Ford with which Jim Clark won the Indianapolis 500 in 1965, and later there appeared the Hawk Special with which Andretti won the same American classic in 1969. Racing cars by Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, McLaren, Matra, Ligier and Porsche - to mention only some of the most prestigious names - have been exhibited at this very popular show. The exhibition of sports vehicles and their accessories was accompanied by other attractions such as a fun-fair, gastronomic shows, production car tests reserved for the public and organised on the track by the manufacturers dragster races and stuntcar events.

Great enthusiasm was raised at the Italian Grand Prix races, by the spectacular exhibitions put on by the Tricolour Arrows, the Italian Air Force's acrobatic team. The 5,750-metre road circuit inaugurated in 1955 has been the most used in the history of the Monza Autodrome, thirteen times up to 1971 for the automobile Grand Prix races and seventeen times up to 1972 for the motorcycle Grand Prix. Due to the rather frequent technical formula changes in the cars a reliable comparison of performances and development can only be made for the single-seaters as from 1966, the year the 3,000 cc engine formula was started.

The fastest lap average that year (Scarfiotti-Ferrari) was 224 kilometres per hour, then going to 233.96 in 1967 (Clark-Lotus), 239.3 m 1968 (Oliver-Lotus), 242.95 in 1969 and '70 (Beltoise-Matra and Regazzoni-Ferrari respectively), and finally 247 km/h in 1971 (Pescarolo-March). The same year 1971 Chris Amon and Matra had exceeded 251 km/h in practice. The fastest, most powerful 500 cc motorcycles had done the lap at over 180 km/h in 1955 (Duke-Gilera), 190 km/h in 1957 (Liberati-Gilera), and 200 km/h in 1970 (Agostini-MV Agusta). Agostini also holds the overall motorcycle record for the track with an average of 204.545 km/h in 1971.

In the spring of the same year work was begun to improve accomodation and visibility for the public; there was the construction of a covered reinforced concrete stand with 2,000 seats financed by a Shell contribution outside the entrance to the "parabolic" curve, and the erection of an embankment along the straight preceding the stand and along the entire periphery of the area inside the same curve, with reinforced concrete bleachers providing over 10,000 seats.



Races contested on the high speed track.
 
Changes during the years  Back to Top
1922/1928 Construction and first races on the original tracks.
1929/1939 In consequence of the Materassi's accident, races are run on the alternative tracks
1940/1954 After the war interruption, the activity starts again in 1948
1955/1971 Construction of the high speed track and other important works
1972/1978 Chicane and variants to reduce the high speed
1979/1988 New works to update the circuit
1989/1997 New pit complex and the interventions for the security
1998/OGGI New hospitality buildings and the technological modernizations
 
 
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