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CHITI THE GREAT

Carlo Chiti was one of the main figures of the Italian motoring world. And he was great in all senses, for his genius, for his pleasant personality, for his humanity and also for his size, almost two metres tall and well over a hundred kilograms.

chiti   Alfa Romeo, early Fifties : Carlo Chiti in his Portello office.

He arrived at Alfa Romeo in the early Fifties, after having just graduated in aeronautic engineering, Chiti, a brilliant extrovert from Pistoia, moved to Ferrari, working as technical director from 1957 to 1961 (see note).

chiti   1953 Merano : Juan Manuel Fangio wins the Gran Premio Supercortemaggiore on Alfa Romeo 3000 CM Spider.

See note

He then went back to his first love, Alfa Romeo. In 1963, in Udine, together with the engineer Ludovico Chizzola he founded Autodelta which at the time assembled the legendary Giulietta TZ1. Shortly after Autodelta was moved to Settimo Milanese, becoming a sort of racing department of Alfa Romeo.  Autodelta was everything for Chiti: a highly specialized workshop, a sort of second home, a kennel, a place for fun.

chiti   A photo which symbolizes Autodelta’s activity in the 1970s: the official GTAs Junior (centre and right) lined up before the start of the Spa (Belgium) 24 Hours 1972.

Chiti was also a great lover and protector of animals. Wherever he went he would pick up sick dogs,  curing them and taking them to Autodelta where –devoted to their master- they could often be found in his office, on his desk, chairs and armchairs. "Please, take a seat, but don’t touch my dog”. Another time two journalists outside his office door overheard a lively discussion in his office. Then, suddenly a gunshot  rang out. The two journalists rushed in to find Chiti and the person he was talking to laughing and looking at a hole in the ceiling . Good old Chiti was like that,  he took everything cheerfully. Even at the races and also in Formula one, where he brought Alfa Romeo back with alternate fortune.

chiti   1979 Season: Niki Lauda’s Brabham-Alfa during a trial session.

At first fitting engines on the Brabhams of his great friend and admirer Bernie Ecclestone. Then also building the chassis. They were golden years, with great enthusiasm for Italy’s second racing team. But also the years in which Alfa Romeo’s problems slowly started to appear, leading the famous brand to its ruin.

chiti   1979: Bruno Giacomelli’s Alfa-Alfa tipo 179 in the debut season.

AUTODELTA was dragged down by Alfa Romeo and Chiti moved forward to new projects. At Motori Moderni he built F.1 engines and a 12 cylinder boxer engine for the Japanese Subaru. For Alfa Romeo he contributed to the realization of the 6 cylinder racing engine for the 155 DTM of the early  1990s. He worked until the end. Tireless and passionate, he could never have done without his work, his engines. "When you come to Milan –he always said on the phone- let me know, we’ll go out for lunch together...". He always loved good food and lots of cheerful company at meals. He was probably the first to bring his own food to the races, disgusted by crude hot-dogs, which at the time were Formula One’s only available food, together with bananas.

It was in those circumstances that that he willingly opened the “volumes” of his encyclopedic memory to tell the story of a life spent in car racing. Anecdotes about anything and anybody, episodes still officially unknown on this or that race, spitefulness and retaliation, love and hatred. Through his voice Formula One became a thrilling TV serial on the world of sports,  a never ending Dallas or Beautiful. Human stories about mechanics, VIPs, drivers, women, adventurers. Technical accounts of real and fake inventions, small scams, tricks, great achievements
He died in Milan in 1994 at the age of 70. With him died the last Gentleman of the world of engines which is increasingly bad tempered,  as poor in spirit as it is rich in money.

CARLO MARINCOVICH - La Repubblica –July 1994
By Luigi Giuliani  





NOTE: He grew professionally at Alfa Romeo, where he arrived in 1952 as a trainee engineer . The following year he joined the Reparto Esperienze Speciali, the racing department of the Milan brand, where he acquired precious lessons in an atmosphere which was still that of the World titles of 1950-51. He worked on the   “Disco Volante” and met Juan Manuel Fangio. He then worked on the Giulietta Sprint Veloce, forerunner of the Giulia Gta. Thanks to his great credentials, Enzo Ferrari called him to Maranello as he had previously done with other great technicians such as Gioachino Colombo and Giuseppe Busso


 
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