Vincenzo Lancia

 In Drivers

Vincenzo Lancia was born on August 24, 1881 at Fobello, Italy, a few kilometers from the Swiss border. He was the youngest of four children. His father had made his money in Argentina with patented food preservation solutions.
Lancia received his formal education at the Turin Technical School studying bookkeeping, but dropped out when he was just 17. His family rented a portion of their winter estate to Matteo Ceirano who owned a mechanical shop and would eventually produce automobiles under the Itala brand. Vincenzo was fascinated by Ceirano’s work and convinced his father to let him take a job as the shop’s bookkeeper. Immediately, Lancia set about absorbing everything his eyes could take in about the craft of mechanics and the art of design. Only a teenager, his aptitude for engineering astonished Ceirano and his chief engineer, Faccioli. His relentless work ethic earned him opportunities with mechanical design projects far afield from bookkeeping. When Ceirano’s firm was acquired in 1899 by F.I.A.T. the 18-year old Lancia’s reputation was so well established that he was appointed chief inspector at the new factory.
Lancia was also invited to join the F.I.A.T. race team. Lancia looked the part of a pioneer racing driver. He was a dark, burly young man with fierce eyes and a bristling black moustache. Drivers of the day needed daring, willpower, strong nerves, strong arms and a heavy right boot, and Lancia soon showed he had those too.
His racing career spanned 10 years. During that time he was frequently very fast but would almost as frequently fail to finish through mechanical breakdowns or accidents.
One event he did win for F.I.A.T was the 1904 Florio Cup, a two-lap road race between Brescia, Cremona and Mantua starting and finishing at Brescia, later to become well known as the Start/Finish of the Mille Miglia. The two laps involved 370 Km, which Vincenzo covered in 3 hours, 9 minutes and 56 seconds, recording an average speed of 115.7 KPH, or 71.88 MPH.
He eventually started his own business and set up his own factory in Turin in 1906. However he was still retained by his former employer as a driver of their racing team for two more years, scoring second places in the 1906 American Vanderbilt Cup and the 1907 Targa Florio.
His last race was in 1910.
Vincenzo Lancia continued to pursue automotive perfection until his untimely death of a heart attack, on 15 February 1937, at the age of 55.

 

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