Bench & Loom Background

Dr. Ferdinand Porsche called him "The greatest driver of the past, the present and the future," though most referred to him simply as "The Flying Mantuan."

Tazio Nuvolari was one of the most gifted racers the world has ever known. Daring, handsome, charismatic and stylish, the diminutive Italian was loved by all for his amazing prowess, his zest for life and his reputation as a bon vivant.

His celebrity status was well earned and based on success as well as heroic deeds. For instance, in 1925, wearing a plaster cast on his leg as a result of a car crash the previous week, Nuvolari raced his Bianchi motorcycle, from the back of the heat where he started, to not only victory but to a speed record! He was utterly unassailable.


Nuvolari raced for the grandest names in history – Alfa Romeo, Scuderia Ferrari, Maserati, Bugatti and Auto Union, and won the most prestigious championships of his time, sometimes multiple times – Monaco Grand Prix, Targa Florio, Vanderbilt Cup, Mille Miglia, Monza, Milano-Taranto, and more.

As the fastest man on earth his emblem was the ironic-now-iconic turtle, and his exploits on both two and four wheels made him the hero of everyone from common folk to glitterati. Men admired him, women swooned over him and politicians curried his favor. Nuvolari’s triumphs and near-fatal crashes made headlines around the globe and when he raced the world held its breath.

Miraculously, Nuvolari passed away quietly in his bed – not on the track as most has expected – just three years after his last race, testament to his enduring skill. More than 50,000 people attended the funeral, including Enzo Ferrari who, when he stopped to ask a local shopkeeper for directions, the man – not recognizing Ferrari – said, "Thank you for coming. A man like Nuvolari won’t be born again."


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The Men of Character features are strictly editorial. In no way does this article imply association with or endorsement from the Estate of Tazio Nuvolari.