The Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti , which took place ten times (1947 to 1956), was an instant success because of the spectacular landscapes of the Dolomites, mountains that change colour as the hands move round the clock (and a Unesco Heritage area since 2009). The race was launched by Ferruccio Gidoni, president of AC Belluno, and its most famous testimonial was the legendary Tazio Nuvolari, who was guest of honour at the first races.It was a very useful testing ground for the top drivers of the major car makers of the time, who found themselves up against “perfect strangers”, as was customary in those days, amateurs who were no less motivated than the big names in the sport and put up very stiff opposition.

The course has always been the same: 303.8 km (as reproduced at AC Belluno).
Starting out from Cortina, it took in Passo Falzarego, Agordino, Arabba, Passo Pordoi, Val di Fassa, Passo Rolle, San Martino di Castrozza, Fiera di Primiero, Feltre, Belluno, Longarone, Pieve di Cadore, Auronzo, Misurina and Passo Cimabanche. And back to the town known all over the world as the "Queen of the Dolomites", Cortina d’Ampezzo.

1947 | Alfa Romeo takes the first victory
Inspired by the great road races of the past – thrilling events that took place on ordinary roads lined by fans – and thanks to financial and organizational backing from various public and private bodies (including local hotels), AC Belluno managed to launch a competition that was to play a major role in Italian motor racing. Despite all the difficulties of the immediate post-war period, 118 drivers turned up for the start but only 74, little over half, actually made a finish. The favourites were Giovanni Bracco and Piero Dusio, while the winner was Salvatore Ammendola, in a 1939 Alfa Romeo C 2500, with a time of just under four hours and an average speed of 76.49 km/h. According to the newspapers, he got out of his car as cool and relaxed as if he'd been out for a pre-lunch spin, an exaggeration probably. Second was Dusio, driver-entrepreneur, in a car of his own production, a Cisitalia 202 MM (aka "Rocket"), and third was Alberto Gidoni, son of the president of AC Belluno, in a Fiat Gidoni 1100 S. A major role was played by Automobile Clubs in the Triveneto regions: Belluno, Bolzano, Padova, Rovigo, Trento, Treviso, Trieste, Udine, Venice, Verona and Vicenza. Gorizia joined in the following year.
1948 | Maserati double
The second edition, a race full of spectacular action and surprises, was won by Giovanni Bracco in a Maserati A6 GCS, in 3 hours 40' 27", with an average of 82.56 km/h. Finishing ahead of team mate Gigi Villoresi, who crossed the finishing line with a tyre down, he thus secured his standing as overall Italian champion for '48. Ferrari, whose official driver in the race was Clemente Biondetti, had to content itself with 3rd place. It wasn't Biondetti who made the podium however, but the "private" driver Soave Besana, in an 166 Inter. 4th overall, for the second year, in a Fiat 1100, were the husband-wife team of Alberto Comirato and Lia Dumas Comirato, who had recently come 2nd overall at that year's Mille Miglia. Three young Marzotto brothers debuted this year: Giannino (21) finished 12th in a Lancia Aprilia 1500, Paolo (17) was 14th in a Lancia Aprilia 1500 and Umberto (22) was 26th in a Cisitalia 202.
1949 | Ferrari double
Challenged by the previous year's result, Ferrari took the first two places on the podium. Roberto Vallone won in a Ferrari 166 Inter in 3 hours 45' 2", an average of 81.00 km/h. 2nd was Franco Cornacchia in a Ferrari 166 MM, while 3rd overall was taken by Franco Rol in an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione, having been held back by a closed level crossing. The '49 race is also remembered for its debuts: Maria Teresa De Filippis (first woman driver in Formula 1 in the following year) in a Urania BMW 750, and Berardo Taraschi, who was also the founder of Giaur. The famous bodywork specialist "Nuccio" Bertone took part in a Fiat 1100, while champion driver Tazio Nuvolari attended as a guest. The 12th Rallye des Alpes was run over the same course the day before, thus boosting interest in the race.
1950 | Ferrari-Maserati-Ferrari
The Marzotto brothers begin to shine in the Coppa. The overall winner was Giannino, partnered by the trusty Marco Crosara, in a splendid Ferrari 195 S, clocking 3 hours 41' 31", an average of 84.97 km/h. In his wake, after a long duel ending in a gap of only 14 seconds, came Giovanni Bracco, winner at Cortina in '48, in a Maserati A6 GCS. In 3rd place was Franco Cornacchia (2nd the previous year) in the twin of Marzotto's car. Racing in the Coppa for the first time was the talented Luigi Fagioli, already an official driver for Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Mercedes, and here in an Osca Mt 4, finishing 5th overall behind Sergio Sighinolfi in a Fiat Stanguellini 1100. The Turin constructor also saw a massive contingent of its 500 Topolino model (versions B and C): 32 registered and 25 of them made the finish.
1951 | Lancia double
Another great Italian car maker puts two drivers on the podium. Lancia returned to racing in '51, the year the race changed its name to Coppa d'Oro delle Dolomiti, and took 1st and 2nd places with the same model, the Aurelia B 20. The winner was Enrico Anselmi, in 3 hours 45' 7", an average of 80.97 km/h, ahead of Umberto Castiglioni, aka "Ippocampo". In 3rd place was the winner of the Sport category, a driver who was to be highly successful in future editions, Giulio Cabianca, from Verona, in an Osca Mt4. Another big name in the race was that of internationally famous bodywork specialist Elio Zagato, who won the Gran Turismo category in a Fiat Zagato 750. Lancia also took 4th place, yet another Aurelia B 20, driven by Salvatore Ammendola, winner of the first edition.
1952 | Four Ferraris for four Marzottos
The 6th Coppa d'Oro delle Dolomiti can be summed up by a family photo. Four Marzotto brothers finished in the top 7 (at Falzarego they took the top four places). Paolo won the race in a Ferrari 225 S in 3 hours, 22'25"3/5 (average 89.840 km/h). Giannino finished 2nd, 3' 22" behind him, in a Ferrari 340 America. To split the list of brothers it took two seasoned champions of this race: in 3rd place Giulio Cabianca, with the Italian champion's tricolore band on his helmet, in an Osca Mt 4 1100, followed by Salvatore Ammendola in a Lancia Aurelia B 20 Corsa. The third brother to cross the line was Vittorio, in the same model as the winner, followed in 6th place by "Ippocampo" (Umberto Castiglioni), while Umberto, the youngest scion of the famous textiles family, finished 7th in a Ferrari 212 Export. Ammendola won the over-1500 cc class of the Gran Turismo category, as well as taking home the first Coppa d'Oro delle Dolomiti for the fastest time recorded over three consecutive years (1950-1952).
1953 | Paolo Marzotto again
Sporting an elegant tie, Paolo Marzotto managed to repeat his success of the previous year, and in the process broke the psychological barrier of 90 km/h (average speed), at 91.913 km/h to be precise. In a Ferrari 250 MM this time, he clocked 3 hours 18' 19". He was challenged in a long and thrilling duel by the Roman driver Piero Taruffi, nicknamed "silver fox" on account of his grey hair, experience and cunning , who finished 2nd in a Lancia D 20. In 3rd place was Umberto Maglioli in a Ferrari 735 S, the car that Enzo Ferrari decided not to assign to Paolo Marzotto despite predicting his win and even the exact finishing order. Paolo thus got his own back on Giannino, who had beaten him a few months before to win the Mille Miglia. Once again, Giulio Cabianca in an Osca Mt 4 was the only driver able to hold his own amidst the battle between the Ferraris and Lancias that characterized the top 10 in the overall rankings.
1954 | One Maserati, one win
The 8th edition of the race was staged in conjunction with the Rallye des Alpes, now called the Criterium des Alpes. More and more of the course was now tarmac but this didn't increase speeds very much. The most exciting duel this year was between the outsider Sergio Mantovani, winner in a Maserati A6 GCS in 3 hours 19' 36", average 91.31 km/h, and one of the great stars of the race, Giulio Cabianca, in an Osca Mt 4 1500. In 3rd place, in a Ferrari 250 Monza, was the favourite Gerino Gerini, noble and reckless, who led for much of the race but then suffered a fault that slowed him down and even threatened to force his withdrawal. Finishing 4th yet again in the history of this race was Salvatore Ammendola in a Ferrari 3000. In the overall rankings, more than halfway down the table, we find the name of Mario Poltronieri, future journalist and TV commentator who was to be the voice of Italian motor racing for many years.
1955 | First and last foreign victory
The penultimate race was extremely hard fought and eventful, with only half the field managing to finish. In the early stages of his international career, the German Olivier Gendebien, future Ferrari driver, won this Coppa d'Oro in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (nicknamed 'gull-wing" because of its upward opening doors). He won in 3 hours 22' 1", at an average speed of 89.77 km/h, 20 seconds ahead of a frustrated Eugenio Castellotti, who was misled by a mistaken signalling of advantage by his mechanics, in a Ferrari 500 Mondial. In 3rd place, in an Osca Mt 1500, was Giulio Cabianca, who thus took the second Coppa d'Oro delle Dolomiti having clocked the fastest time over the three-year period '53 – '55. In 4th place, Elio Zagato, the bodywork designer who produced numerous cars for the Coppa d'Oro, in a Fiat Zagato 8V.
1956 | Osca – Ferrari – Osca
The last Coppa d'Oro was won, at last, by Osca, the sports car constructor owned by the Maserati brothers and which played a major role in the history of the race. The winner, in an Osca Mt 4 1500, was the top driver of decade, Giulio Cabianca, who also broke the average speed record set by Paolo Marzotto in '53 and the 100 km/h barrier. His time was 3 hours 1' 31", with an average of 100,417 km/h. 2nd was Olivier Gendebien, winner the previous year, now in a Ferrari 290 MM, having changed team. 3rd was Umberto Maglioli, driving the twin of the winning car. 4th was Francesco Giardini in a Maserati A6 GCS. Speeds had increased significantly: 5th place Camillo Luglio, in a Ferrari 250 GT, clocked a time that would have won him all nine of the previous editions of the Coppa d'Oro.
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