#0005 - Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza, Zagato Body, Franco Cortese, 1933
This car is currently part of the Simeone Foundation Museum in Philadelphia.
Photographed: Radnor Hunt Concours d'Elegance, 2007.
The Meaning of Quintessence: On three counts the Monza remains a benchmark of classic era motorsport. In the first place, the Monza did its part to build the Alfa Romeo legend, winning both Grand Prix and sports car races with, among others, the great Tazio Nuvolari. These victories include the 1931 Italian Grand Prix, from which it takes its name, the Monaco Grand Prix, and of course, numerous wins in both the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio. The full account of these victories is minutiae, as it applies to the body of 8C 2300 cars of which the Monza is the superlative version, and to which is appended the bored out 2600 variant. So, to press further into lore, in the second place the Monza embodies the first coming of Vittorio Jano's incredible class of classic era competition Alfas—followed immediately by the P3 Grand Prix car and the 8C 2900 sport cars. And in the third place, flying on the heels of that acknowledgement, the Monza represents the last (and greatest) interpretation of the bi-place, dual purpose racing car. The Monza spelled a final huzzah for driver-mechanic racing pairs—from the P3 on, the monoposto was on strong order for supreme Grand Prix competition, while the sports car became its own practical form—and a single model would never again succeed on both competitive fronts to the same degree.
As for configurations, the 8C 2300 was a sympathetic platform produced in long and short wheelbase and bodied in all manners depending on the application. The famous 8C 2300 Le Mans car, for example, is a long wheelbase French blue car with skirts and endurance kit, while the Monza were short wheelbase cars that often ran without skirts and headlamps, or in some cases reversed the headlamps for better airflow. Once again, this sort of versatility was of a period fast expiring, and while the Monza was perhaps best at changing its colors, the era of dedicated machinery was fast approaching.
The Simeone Car: Taking second place in the 1933 Mille Miglia, this Monza was one of six Alfas to fill the top six spots in that year's contest. Tazio Nuvolari was the winner, alongside Decimo Compagnoni, finishing in 15 hours, 11 minutes, 50 seconds, while this car piloted by Franco Cortese arrived 27 minutes, 48 seconds after. Cortese, who finished more Mille Miglia than any other racer, drove most of the race himself, though in the official time tables Carlo Castelbarco appears as the lead driver, as this was his car. Castelbarco purchased this Monza for the Mille Miglia, likely anticipating a fruitful partnership with Cortese, but suffered immediate adversity as the car caught fire on the eve of the race. Much of the damage was located at the rear, with the fuel tank, tyres, and electronics melting sufficiently.
As writen in historic racing, "By canibalising another car and with all hands to the pumps the car was back together with an hour to spare. Then a mechanic put water in the fuel tank and the car had to be returned to the workshop for further work. Eventually they took the start only a few minutes late, having driven across Brescia at an alarming rate." Suffice to say, the present condition of Dr. Simeone's Monza far exceeds its original racing condition, as is normal, but perhaps more so for its eventful christening.
The Victory by Design series, by Tony Maylam and Alain de Cadenet.
Historic Racing offers a wealth of information on the racers who piloted these wonderful machines.
Dennis David, with information on every Mille Miglia
As per usual, Ultimatecarpage.com has a nice feature on the 8C 2300 Monza
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