This wonderful book, number 10 in the Exceptional Cars series by Porter Press, details the remarkable story of the Alfa Romeo T33/TT/3 that was produced by Alfa’s Autodelta racing department to compete in the 1972 World Championship for Makes.
Although the Alfas achieved regular podium positions, they struggled to take on the might of Ferrari, however perhaps their most memorable race was coming second in the epic Targa Florio Sicilian road race, where driver Helmut Marko put in a stirring drive to come within seconds of victory. As author Ian Wagstaff says in his opening introduction:
“It was one of the finest laps ever witnessed on Sicily’s 72km (45-mile) Piccolo Circuit. The pride of Alfa Romeo was at stake and an inspired, possessed even, Helmut Marko had given his all.”
Marko was driving chassis 115.72.002, one of the tubular-framed developments of the Tipo 33 concept that Autodelta raced for only one season but was the most successful of the T33/TT/3 chassis, which was to enjoy a second career on the race circuits and hillclimbs of Greece, before its eventual return to Europe, where it is still a frequent competitor in historic events.
This particular car went on to become an important historic racing car, competing in Japan and South Africa, owned by Andrew Fletcher and Willie Tucket. The car then became a regular competitor at European race events, initially at the hands of Franco Meiners and then with its current owner, Martin Halusa.
Author Ian Wagstaff, started putting together motor racing reports back in the early 1970s, having started work with Motor Sport magazine. A freelance journalist since 1986, he has been writing for automotive and business publications as well as the motor racing press and has won multiple awards for his previous books.
Wagstaff starts off the story of this car in Part 1 of the book when an Alfa Romeo T33/TT/3 was first seen in public in 1971 driven by German driver Rolf Stommelen.
We then step back in time in Chapter 1 as the book looks at Alfa Romeo’s heritage when the manufacturer took part in its first Targa Florio before World War 1 prior to production being halted due to the war. The company then returned to producing cars at the end of the war and became Alfa Romeo in 1920 with the aim of creating a sporting legend and attracting the notorious designer Vittorio Jano away from Fiat.
In 1935, Tazio Nuvolari beat the dominant Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union teams in a Scuderia Ferrari-entered Alfa Romeo. The Alfa’s win at the German Grand Prix went down in history as one of the greatest days of motorsport.
In Chapter 2, Wagstaff looks at the birth of the Tipo 33 when in 1966 there were rumours circulating that Alfa Romeo were thinking of building an endurance prototype with a V8 engine in order to get Alfa back into mainstream international motor racing once again.
The Alfa Romeo engineers under Autodelta’s Carlo Chiti, produced a barchetta which featured a light alloy Lucas fuel-injected 1,995cc, 90-degree V8 engine, giving out 260bhp at 9,000rpm, making the car extremely competitive.
The 1968 Le Mans saw six 2-litre Alfa Romeos entered with Carlo Facetti and Mario Casoni finishing the race fifth and sixth, respectively.
By the end of 1969, Chiti believed that the majority of the T33/3’s teething problems had been sorted as well as the bodywork being cleaned up. So, Chapter 3, entitled ‘Enter the T33/TT/3’, opens with the 1971 season, by which time Carlo Chiti had sorted out the team management and the cars were proving to be not only quick but also reliable. This combination began to show with a victory at Brands Hatch at the BOAC 1,000Kms race at the hands of Andrea de Adamich and Henri Pescarolo. And perhaps even more importantly, Nino Vaccarella and Toine Hezemans won the Targa Florio, Alfa Romeo’s first victory there since 1935, giving the Porsche 908s a run for their money. Following the Sicilian race, Motor Sport’s Denis Jenkinson wrote:
“It is becoming more and more evident that, whereas Autodelta used to be a separate concern form Alfa Romeo, the Milan racing department is getting much more involved in the Tipo 33/3 project.”
In part 2 of the book, Wagstaff takes a look at the factory car with Chapter 4 heading to ‘The Americas’ when on 9th January 1972, Vic Elford and Helmut Marko came fourth in the Buenos Aires 1,000Kms in Argentina. The chapter also has a section on Englishman Vic Elford, who is considered to be one of endurance racing greats. However, it was in rallying that he first made a name for himself.
There is of course also a section on Austrian Helmut Marko, who was a great friend of Jochen Rindt, and had 10 grand prix under his belt driving a BRM before he was unfortunately blinded in his left eye by a flying stone from Emerson Fittipaldi’s Lotus, which pierced his visor at the 1972 French Grand Prix, sadly putting an end to his Formula 1 racing career. He will perhaps be best remembered though for his race a few weeks earlier when he drove his Alfa Romeo T33/TT/3 002 around the Targa Florio circuit, chasing the lead Ferrari, and narrowly missing out on victory.
The Alfa Romeo T33/TT/3 (002) came third at The Daytona 24 in Florida on 6th February, again driven by Vic Elford and Helmut Marko before moving onto The Florida International 12-Hours of Endurance at Sebring, where the Alfa again finished third with Nino Vaccarella at the wheel.
It was then over to Europe (Chapter 5) for the Alfa Romeo and Brands Hatch on 16th April 1972 for the BOAC 1,000Kms, where Nanni Galli and Helmut Marko came sixth. On 1st May the Alfa finished fourth at the Coppa d’Oro Shell in Imola, once again driven by Galli. On 21st May, Galli and Marko famously came second at the Targa Florio in Sicily with that amazing drive by Marko that we have already referred to.
The Chapter also takes a look at Italian Nanni Galli, who tried to hide his racing from his wealthy Bolognese family, starting his racing career in the mid-60s driving a Mini Cooper S before he joined Alfa Romeo in 1967 to race both touring and sportscars. In 1967 me moved into single-seater racing, driving a Formula 2 Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT23 and then into Formula 1 the following year.
The Alfa then came third at the ADAC-1,000Kms-Rennen at the Nürburgring in Germany at the hands of Helmut Marko and Andrea de Adamich. The next race in the calendar, was the famous Le Mans 24 Hours on 11th June, where the Matra of Graham Hill dominated Alfa, and where Hill became the only man to win the Triple Crown of the Formula 1 World Championship, Indianapolis and Le Mans. The Alfa Romeo T33/TT/3 finished the race fourth with Adamich and Vaccarella driving.
Chapter 6 is entitled ‘The Alfas race on’ as by the mid-1970s the World Championship for Makes was not what it used to be, and a new World Sports Car Championship was introduced in 1976. As a result, the Alfa Romeo T33/TT/12s won every round of the 1977 championship.
Part 3 of the book takes a look at chassis 002’s life after Autodelta, with Chapter 7 talking about the car’s eclectic career, competing in the hill roads of Greece, a brief appearance in Japan and racing in South Africa when Andrew Fletcher finished runner up at Kyalami in 1989. The car then became a regular in the European historic car racing scene.
In May 2011, Alfa Romeo T33/TT/3 002 became the property of Monaco-based Meiners. The car was then sent to historic race specialist Hall and Hall in Bourne, Lincolnshire to give the car the once over before it began racing again. The car was raced on a number of occasions at the 2012 and 2014 Le Mans Classic. It then travelled back to Italy in October 2014 to be used in a promotional event for energy-drink brand and Formula 1 manufacturer Red Bull. Franco Meiners drove the car in the morning before Daniel Ricciardo took over in the afternoon, who at the time was driving for Red Bull Racing.
Today, Alfa Romeo T33/TT/3 002 is owned by Martin Halusa, who believes that the 1970s was when the most interesting cars were created. Hulusa said of his new car:
“We are not just collectors, but we also want to race our cars, and it seemed that the Alfa was an attractive balance between collectability and raceability. We like the Alfa brand anyway. So we went on a search.”
The final chapter of the book, Chapter 11, is filled with 18 pages of fabulous studio quality colour photographs showing the car beautifully restored in all its fascinating detail, photographed by John Colley, taken in Tim Samway’s Oxfordshire workshop.
The book itself is lavishly illustrated throughout with a mix of period and contemporary images, many of which have never been published and is book any Alfa Romeo and motorsport enthusiast should have in their collection.
Publication date: October 2020
UK Price: £30.00
Format: 240 x 280 mm in landscape format, Jacketed hardback
Illustration: over 130 colour and black & white photographs
Exceptional Cars Series No. 10
Alfa Romeo T33/TT/3 – The Remarkable Story of 115.72.002
By Ian Wagstaff
Published by Porter Press International
For more information and to purchase your own copy of the book, please visit the Porter Press website: https://porterpress.co.uk
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a member of The Guild of Motoring Writers, professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Illustrations courtesy of Porter Press International