- July 28, 1924
- July 06, 1958
- Not Active
In its early days, Formula 1 had many hero drivers who were real role models, and Italian Luigi Musso surely was one of them.
He recorded 24 starts in the F1 World Championship between 1953 and 1958, as a factory driver of Maserati or Ferrari. He won one race, the 1956 Argentine Grand Prix. His best season was 1957 when he finished third in the championship.
Unfortunately, Musso was one of fallen heroes of Formula 1. He lost a life in July 1958 in an accident during the French Grand Prix at Reims.
Difficult career start
Born in Rome in July 1924, Luigi Musso started his racing career after the World War II, driving together with his two brothers but they weren’t too supportive and soon he bought his own car, 750cc Giannini.
He raced in the events like Tour of Italy, Targa Florio, and Mille Miglia but his aggressive driving style caused troubles and Luigi crashed in almost every race.
Musso became Maserati driver
However, talented driver slightly started to improve and soon he was in the centre of attention. Many factory teams became interested in his services and one of them was Maserati. He signed with the Modena-based manufacturer and quickly proved that he was able to win the races with a proper car. He won numerous national events and became the rising star of the Italian motorsports.
Formula One debut in 1953
In 1953, Musso debuted in Formula 1 World championship, finishing seventh at Monza in the #56 Maserati A6GCM he was sharing with Sergio Mantovani. Next year, Luigi confirmed his talent and quality. He scored a class win in Giro di Sicilia, later finished 3rd in Mille Miglia, won the Naples Grand Prix and finally won the class in Targa Florio.
The brilliant season in sports cars racing was crowned with the 2nd place in the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, losing to Mike Hawthorn and with a victory in the non-championship race in Pescara.
Luigi Musso - the rising star in Italy
Italy had racing stars such as Alberto Ascari, Eugenio Castellotti, and Umberto Maglioli but they were already established as the top racers but Musso was considered as the one who will surpass their glory. That kind of pressure soon will become too heavy for Luigi.
Driving a powerful Maserati 250F, Musso during the season of 1955 thrice finished in second place at the non-championship races while at the championship races his best result was 3rd place at the Dutch Grand Prix. Musso finished the season in tenth place overall and secured move to Ferrari team.
Victory in Argentina in the first race with Ferrari
The expectations were high, especially after a perfect start and Luigi’s maiden F1 Championship triumph in the Argentinian Grand Prix.in January 1956. He was sharing the victorious #34 Ferrari D50 with legendary Juan Manuel Fangio. One more great result followed in March when Musso and Harry Schell finished second overall at Sebring 12 Hours in the #18 Ferrari 860 Monza.
Unfortunately, Musso missed a big part of the season after a crash in the sports cars race at Nurburgring. That accident was just one of the signs that showed how hard this young Italian battled against pressure and excessively high expectations.
Third place in the 1957 Formula 1 Championship
Luigi recovered enough to take his place in one of the Ferraris for 1957. In the battle against likes of Fangio and Peter Collins he did pretty well and finished the season in third place overall, behind Fangio and Stirling Moss.
Musso did especially well at the non-championship races, finishing on the podium in each of five events. In the F1 Championship, he was on a podium two times, in France and Great Britain.
Dark clouds above Musso
Still, the expectations weren’t met completely. Being Italian who drove Italian car was something memorable, but everybody was looking at Musso through the successes of Ascari and Castellotti, former champions who were killed in the crashes. Was he expecting the same fate?
He was probably one of the first F1 stars who was a typical example of "the whole package". He was a handsome lad from Rome and attracted many women, even the famous Maria Teresa Fillipis, probably the most popular woman in the history of Formula 1.
Good start of the 1958 F1 season
Before the start of 1958 season, Musso again was considered as one of the title contenders, together with his teammates and fierce rivals Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins. The beginning of campaign went well for Italian who finished second in Argentina and Monaco and won the non-championship Syracuse Grand Prix.
He was also successful in sports car races, finishing second at Buenos Aires 1000 Km and Sebring 12 Hours, and winning Targa Florio together with Olivier Gendebien.
Fatal crash in a Ferrari at Reims
Sadly, a damnation of the popular Italian drivers has continued. After Ascari and Castellotti, anther Italian driver was killed. Musso died in the crash at French Grand Prix in Reims when his Ferrari spun, struck a ditch and somersaulted. The head injuries were very serious and later that day Musso passed away in the hospital.
It was the sad end for the talented driver who was fighting against his rivals but also against his own problems. He was in debts and at the same time he raced successfuly in Formula 1 and sports car races all over the world. His heart probably was full but it was too much for Luigi’s weak body.
The prize money for winning the French Grand Prix was the biggest in the championship and Musso was killed literally running for money. Interestingly, by the end of the year, Luigi’s rivals Hawthorn and Collins, who made a deal to share the prize equally, also died.