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1922 Italy
1927 Milan


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The Complete History of Grand Prix Motor Racing by Adriano Cimarosti
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Great Auto Races  by Peter Helck
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Pietro BordinoGeorges Boillot Bordino was born in Turin, November 22, 1887. The son of a Fiat caretaker he would spend his early years around the factory before he was given a job as a mechanic. In 1904 he would become a racing mechanic to the works drivers, Vincenzo Lancia and Felice Nazzaro. In 1908 he took the wheel himself at the Chateau Thierry hill-climb in France, winning on his first attempt. He would travel to England in 1911 for a series speed record attempts in an airship-engined Fiat but to know avail as the car was next to impossible to drive.

World War I would intercede just as his career was starting to take off. He Rejoined Fiat when the company decided to go racing again in 1921. In the first Italian Grand Prix on the old Montichiari circuit just outside of Brescia he set fastest lap at nearly 100 mph he failed to finish the race with a broken oil pipe after leading the early stages of the race. This would prove to be a pattern throughout his career. Described by none other but H. O. D. Segrave as "the finest road race driver in the world", his results never matched his abilities.

Pietro Bordino After a brief trip to the United States for a series of races on every kind of track including the infamous board tracks he returned to Europe. If anyone doubted his speed, those doubts were erased when he put up an electrifying performance in the French Grand Prix, leading in a 2-litre 6-cylinder Fiat in treacherous conditions from the 2nd lap to 2 laps before the end when all was brought to naught when his rear axle broke. His teammate Felice Nazzaro would go onto victory in a race tainted by the death of their teammate and Felice's nephew Biaggo.

Two months later and with great fanfare the new track at Monza was completed and a series of races were held including a Voiturette race and later the Italian Grand Prix. Both were won by the 34-year old Bordino in dominating fashion setting fastest laps in both. The following year he again led the French Grand Prix only to be put out by supercharger trouble.

Pietro BordinoIn 1924, driving a 1.5-litre Fiat he maintained 3rd place at the Targa Florio behind a 2-litre Mercedes and a 4.5-litre Alfa. Replaced by Nazzario after being struck by heat exhaustion and suffering a roll-over the two Fiat drivers still managed a remarkable 4th place. The French Grand Prix of that year saw another early lead disolve when his brakes began to fail. Fiat would close down their factory team at the end of the year and thier activities were limited to supporting the efforts of their current and past cars.

Bordino decided to try his luck in America again with an 8-cylinder 1.5-liter supercharged Fiat Grand Prix car. He finished sixth in it at Culver City in March, 1925, and was back in April to win a 25-mile sprint with a 133 mph race average. Bordino then entered the former Grand Prix car in the 1925 Indianapolis 500, qualifying at 107.661 mph, which earned him eighth place on the grid behind a solid wall of supercharged Duesenbergs and Millers. Suffering a hand injury during a pit stop, Bordino was relieved by Antoine Mourne who helped guide the Fiat to a tenth-place finish.

Pietro BodinoIn 1927 Fiat made a surprise return during the Italian Grand Prix. The brand new Tipo 806 was not considered tested enough to enter the featured event so instead was driven in the supporting Grand Prix of Milan forFormule Libre cars. The conditions, wet and slippery allowed Bordino to once again display his immense skills as he left the larger P2 Alfa Romeo and Bugatti in his wake. The return to racing was short lived as the new managment did not see the same benefits of Grand Prix racing.

On April 15, 1928 fate caught up to Bordino, now driving for Bugatti in a T35C, he hit a dog during practice for the Targa Florio. The impact jammed his steering causing him to lose control. The car crashed into a river and the greatest driver of his time, was thrown from the car and unconscious or badly injured, he drowned, dead at the age of 40.

Pietro Bordino

Generations change in motorsports not through birth but through death. He had started his career in 1908, a man in a hurry from the start. He knew only one speed, flat-out. His death like those of others of comparable stature shocked the motorsport world. Nuvolari would dedicate his first win to the great champion. The new generation headed by Tazio Nuvolari and Achille Varzi would replace Ascari and Bordino and through Bordino the connection to Louis Wagner and the great city to city races of the 19th century would be broken.