Since 1977

Since 1977, I have written more than 300 000 kilometers of words, that is to say put end to end, one way trip from Earth to the Moon. Or a second to light for this trip. A second light words in 30 years, some 3 billion signs.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


The Mille Miglia shot is from the Raticosa or Futa pass; the Marquis’ wreck was on one of the long flat tree-lined sections heading back to Brescia.

I discovered this image on the web and found it rather poignant. This is one of the last photos taken of Alfonso De Portago in his Ferrari at the 1957 Mille Miglia.  Not long after this photo was taken, a sudden tire deflation caused him to lose control of his car resulting in one of the worst racing accidents in history. Portago and his co-driver Edmund Nelson were both killed in a gruesome fashion, along with 10 spectators, including 5 children.  It was a dark day in Italian motor racing history, and ultimately led to the banning of the Mille Miglia race.
I am fascinated by this photograph because it is eerily quiet despite all the people and activity in the image. The naive madness of this type of road racing is made so clear in this photograph. The impending tragedy is almost palpable.  I particularly love the photographer crouching right on the edge of the wall, flirting with disaster.

He and his co-driver Edmund Nelson were killed in a crash (on May 12) in the 1957 Mille Miglia  about forty miles (68 km) from Brescia , the starting and finishing point of the 1,000 mile (1609 km) race. They were in third place at the time. The accident also claimed the lives of ten spectators, among them five children. Portago blew a tire on his Ferrari, causing the car to go into the crowd lining the highway. He was travelling at 150 mph (241 km/h) when the tire went flat. The Ferrari hurtled over a canal on the left side of the road, killing five spectators, then veered back across the canal, and caused the deaths of five other onlookers on the right side of the road. Two of the dead children were hit by a concrete highway milestone that was ripped from the ground by Portago's car and thrown into the crowd. The bodies of Portago and Nelson were badly disfigured beneath the Ferrari, which was upside down. Portago's body was in two sections.This resulted in a long trial for Ferrari team owner Enzo Ferrari .
As T.C. Browne wrote: The inevitable happened when Alfonso [...] de Portago stopped alongside the course, ran to the fence, kissed Linda Christian, ran back to his Ferrari and drove on to his destiny, killing himself, his co-driver, 10 spectators, and the Mille Miglia.

Once Portago commented: "I won't die in an accident. I'll die of old age or be executed in some gross miscarriage of justice". However Nelson countered this assertion by saying that Portago would not live to be 30. According to Nelson, "every time Portago comes in from a race the front of his car is wrinkled where he has been nudging people out of the way at 130 mph (210 km/h)".

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