Emilio Giuseppe Farina better known to the F1 fraternity as “Nino” Farina was born in Turin Italy on the 30th of October 1906. He grew up to become a passionate racer who loved to compete and defied death on more occasions than one, to enjoy the thrills of racing.Legend has it that Farina’s fashion mogul wife Elsa Giaretto who thought that racing was a silly and dangerous activity, once tried to coax her husband to quit the sport, but three days after his wedding, the stubborn Italian flew to race in Argentina!
Farina spent his early days racing for teams like Maserati and Alfa Romeo, but his big break came in 1950 when earned himself a drive in the formidable Alfa Romeo outfit for the inaugural Formula One World Championship season. Driving a supercharged Alfa Romeo 158, Nino won the British, Swiss and Italian GPs that year. He topped the Drivers’ table at the end of the season with 30 points and became the first ever Formula One World Champion at the age of 43.
In the following five seasons that he raced in F1 “The Gentleman of Turin” was outperformed by talented teammates like Juan-Manuel Fangio and Alberto Ascari. He won just two more races, the Belgium Grand Prix in 1952 for Alfa Romeo and the German race the following year (after he switched to Ferrari). Having said that it is prudent to note that the remainder of his career was marred by a series of life-threatening accidents despite which he continued to race.
The Italian was known for his extrodinary bravery on the race track, in an era when accidents and death were common in the sport. He had been involved in countless crashes and had survived every single one of them during his career. Farina did well to escape those collisions unscathed, including an accident in which he broke his collar bone and another in which he was burnt severely. Thus, in some sense, Nino Farina was unbreakable on the race track. Ironically though, well after his retirement from racing, Farina lost his life in a road car accident while driving to watch the French Grand Prix of 1966.
Giuseppe Farina will always be remembered for his straight-arm driving style that was imitated by many racers who followed him. He will also be fondly remembered for his intelligence as a racer. Very few people who raced with him and knew him would forget his Italian arrogance. And although he wasn’t the most popular guy on the race track, he has and will always be remembered as the first ever Formula One World Champion.