Excerpt from «Sicilian Motors» September 1995

It was the smell of burnt oil, or the roar of the shining racing cars at the «3 ore notturne di Siracusa», or even the raids on my father’s Abarth 1000 dual driveshaft (already because then, with racing cars, you could drive on the streets and it was enough to find a winding road to practice). The fact is that it was always impossible for me to imagine my life without competition with anything with a motor. My father retired from racing in 1963, when I was only 5 years old. Therefore, the thrill that I am describing I experienced when I was still very young, and yet, my fascination with my father’s accomplishments was so great that I still have vivid flashbacks. One such flashback was when my mother was sitting in the stands with her hands hiding her eyes, so as not to watch my father’s vicissitudes, in the midst of a ferocious come-from behind race, after lethargic response from the car during a «Le Mans-type» start.
le_mans.jpg - 8335,0 KTherefore, it’s only logical that my biggest dream was to be a professional race car driver and it is perfectly reasonable that the words that keep coming back to me are «who knows what it would be like to race in Formula 1!» What’s more, my biggest aspiration was to race in Formula 3, that already was an unattainable goal to reach. Despite this, I wasn’t impressed by my first Formula 1 Grand Prix race at Hockenheim, or the subsequent ones, or the first test drive at Silverstone, where I respected and revered the car and the atmosphere that were unfamiliar to me. For sure, I was more impressed when I did 3 or 4 laps behind Senna at Estoril in 1992 when I was the test driver for March and it seemed far and virtually unattainable, the day I would race in Formula 1.

It’s hard to explain how an event that you hope for so much can be experienced with such coolness, but I think, in my case, it’s not reaching the goal that is impressive, but more likely, what goes with it. When, for the first time, I sat behind the wheel of a Formula 3, in Varano at the end of the 1984 season, reaching my long term goal in just under a year’s racing, I realized that what I thought was my objective, was merely the beginning, and that my heroes were not Supermen, but mere mortals like me, and what they could do, I could do too So with the same determination, I started setting goals higher and higher, one after the other (step by step), convinced that there is always a higher level to reach. But, at the same time, conscious of the fact that whatever level I reached, I would be satisfied.

march.jpg - 6383,0 K
In fact, I was aware of the difficulty of a man who begins a career as a professional driver at 26 years old. «He’s fast, but he’s already old». I heard the same comment about me over and over. So, no one felt comfortable betting on me and I found myself not only trying to be a driver, but a manager, press secretary and agent. It was a race against time, perform miracles with limited resources accepting, at times, situations that are less competitive, just to advance to the next category. It was hard, but the fact is, I made it to Formula 1, despite the scepticism of many (but not those who followed me closely) and above all, thanks to my determination.
firma2.gif - 2687,0 K