100 years

Nuvolari in the 8CM

Nuvolari in the Maserati 8CM at the 1933 Belgian Grand Prix

The story that led to Tazio Nuvolari’s victory in the fourth Belgian Grand Prix, held on the Spa Francorchamps circuit on 9 July 1933, is fairly complex and proves Maserati’s absolute technical and technological dominance of racing in the early Thirties.

The 1933 Belgian Grand Prix

The fourth edition of the Belgian Grand Prix was held on 9 July 1933 on the Spa Francorchamps circuit, which was then no less than 14,915 metres long and ran along roads around the town of Spa. The drivers had to face forty laps of the track, for a total of 596.6 kilometres, with rather sunny, hot weather. There were eighteen drivers at the wheels of nine Alfa Romeo Monzas, some of them belonging to Scuderia Ferrari, six Bugattis including T51, T59 and T35B cars, and three Maserati 8CMs.

Nuvolari chooses the Maserati 8CM

Giuseppe Campari won the 1933 French Grand Prix on board his two-seater Maserati 8C which, like all racing cars of the time, was also able to accommodate a mechanic for repairs during the event. However, the driver was unhappy with the rigidity of his car’s chassis, and during the next few days Maserati finished building the single-seater Maserati 8CM. In the meantime Ferruccio Testi, a shareholder in Scuderia Ferrari, informed Tazio Nuvolari of the arrival of the new Maserati 8CM, so Testi put Ernesto Maserati in touch with the Flying Mantuan. Enzo Ferrari found out about this, so he gave a verbal order for two Maserati 8CM cars to reassure Nuvolari, who maintained that with the Alfa Romeo P2 cars of the time, Scuderia Ferrari would be completely outclassed by Maserati. However, Enzo Ferrari never paid for the two Maserati 8CM he had verbally ordered, and he never took delivery of them. So Ernesto Maserati, using Ferruccio Testi as go-between in contacts with Tazio Nuvolari, suggested that he should send a Maserati 8CM to Belgium, accompanied by a mechanic. At the same time Ernesto Maserati forbade Decimo Compagnoni, Tazio Nuvolari’s mechanic, to touch the Maserati 8CM. Nuvolari paid no attention to Maserati and modified the car, adding some stiffening braces and reducing the steering ratio; this meant that he missed qualifying and started last on the grid.

Nuvolari’s win

Nuvolari started the 1933 Belgian Grand Prix on the fifth row, in last position, but at the end of the first lap he had already taken the lead thanks to his skill and the performance of the Maserati 8CM. Behind him were his team-mate Baconin Borzacchini, the Alfa Romeo of Louis Chiron, who had started in pole position, and the Bugattis of René Dreyfus and Achille Varzi. Nuvolari continued to impose a relentlessly fast pace, extending his lead lap after lap, and at the end of the seventh he had a 17 second advantage over Chiron and Borzacchini. At the fifteenth lap his lead had doubled, and Nuvolari looked invulnerable until he had to stop to change his tyres and refuel, rejoining the race in fourth place. This gave Chiron the lead, with a one minute advantage over the Maserati 8CM number 22. However, the differential of the Frenchman’s Alfa Romeo failed a few kilometres later. Seven laps from the end Tazio Nuvolari’s Maserati 8CM was two minutes and fifteen seconds ahead of Baconin Borzacchini’s Alfa Romeo Monza, and he continued to extend his lead, finishing almost four minutes before Achille Varzi’s Bugatti in second place.

The Maserati Typo 8CM was Maserati’s first single-seater racing car and was built from 1933 to 1935. The chassis consisted of two longitudinal members with steel section cross-braces. It had a wheelbase of 2,560 millimetres and weighed a total of 785 kilograms. The car had a top speed of 220 kilometres an hour in its original configuration thanks to the powerful straight 8 engine of 2,991.4 cubic centimetres, with a Roots supercharger generating 220 horsepower at 5,500 rpm.