Story by the Editor with input from Aldo Zana and Dino Brunori
Many of us are beginning to wonder how, when or if we’ll be remembered when we pass on. One might hope that on occasion, one might be remembered for kindness, giving, caring, loving, or perhaps just for a wonderful smile or unique talent.
But among those of us who live with a passion, be it cannons or churches or cars, there is a certain group of dearly departed who are not only remembered but appreciated often. Even if we did not know them personally we recall our favorite automotive historians each time we search through our books to ferret out particular fact or nugget of information. For on our shelves are friends we’ve probably never met, alas never will, but are as familiar to us as a brother or sister; thus we recall on many happy occasions, Griff Borgeson, Peter Hull, Chris Nixon, Beverly Rae Kimes, and many other automotive historians who have departed. What pleasure (and sometimes pain) they have given, and keep giving until the books themselves crumble into dust.
And so it is with Italian automotive historian Andrea Curami, who passed away in 2010 at the young age of 63, but recently was reverently remembered by Aldo Zana in his article about the first Formula Junior race in last week’s VeloceToday. “I take the occasion for remembering Andrea Curami, a full professor of Vehicle Dynamics at the Milan Polytechnic University, a member of the FIVA technical commission, head of the selecting committee of the Historic Mille Miglia, and a unique expert of motor racing history and technique. He collected a huge amount of photos and documents,” wrote Zana, noting that some of the photos for the article were credited to Curami.
Others remember Curami for his talents as a Mille Miglia Tech Inspector. On April 16, 2011 the AISA, (Italian Association of Motor Historians) celebrated Curami and his work as a historian. AISA member Mauro Negri, who is the publisher of many books authored by Andrea and who now manages the whole Curami photo archive which has been scanned and organized. (It can be seen online on the AISA website: www.aisastoryauto.it.) Negri remembered Curami’s ability to deal with owners while verifying Mille Miglia entrants.
“His job as Technical Steward at the Mille Miglia meant that he was liable to be disliked by many people. When he had to verify a car’s eligibility before the start of the Mille Miglia, he knew well that the owners of cars would have been upset with him if he ruled against their cars. Yet he was always accurate and unassailable in his decisions, which were accepted by the best entrants. He loved to share his knowledge and enthusiasm with the hundreds of persons showing up at the technical check. He managed to let everyone feel at ease.”
In that regard, author of “Nardi, a fast life” and event organizer Dino Brunori remembers the day his phone rang and it was his friend Curami; he sounded upset.
“’Ciao Dino. I’ve seen your application form for the Mille Miglia. Are you joking? What sort of Porsche is this? This is not a Carrera, the engine of the car was replaced in Modena in 1982 and is not original and …’
I say ‘Wait’, but he goes on. ‘…and the front drums are hiding discs and …’
‘Andrea, stop, it is not me, someone else who has a family name like mine, but it is not me.’
Silence, then, ‘Well, I’m glad, because even if we are good friends, I would have to drop your application. Ciao.’
This was Andrea: white or black, yes or no, no grey area, no half measures.”
History is not just a click on the Internet
Eventually Dino Brunori would write “Nardi, a fast life,” with Curami’s help. But in doing so, Brunori learned a lot.
“One day I showed him a picture of a car we were debating about. He told me that I’m wrong and gave me a phone number of a friend who can help. This chap in turn gave me a phone number of another person and the latter says that yes, he has the picture and he can help me, but he got the original from Andrea: I called Andrea back a bit puzzled about this go around. ‘Well, Dino, history and researches are not just a click on the web,’ said Andrea. ‘You have to dig, compare, learn and then, only when you are sure, write it. I wanted to test your efforts and you did it fairly well. And remember, you’ve now two new friends.’
Thank you Andrea, for the lesson.”
Remembering Curami through his books
Not having met Curami, the Editor can only know him through his books, which take their place on the shelves with the late Borgeson, Pritchard, Pomeroy et al. One of my absolute favorite books, and most referred to, is “La Sport e I suoi artigiani” (The Sport and its craftsmen) with Piero Vergnano (2002), the history of the Italian National Sports Car Classes from 1937 to 1965. By the time it was published most of us knew enough about Ferrari, Maserati, Lancia and Alfa Romeo, but it was the little ones, the so-called Etceterinis, that were left in the dark. Andrea Curami came to the rescue with a stupendous history of not only the events but the hundreds of cars that participated in the 750 and 1100 cc classes, cars and names and people we had never before heard or read of. As we read and learn from his work, we silently speak his name on many happy occasions. And that is a worthy way to be remembered.
If Curami had done nothing else than “La Sport e I suoi artigiani,” his reputation and his legacy would have been secure. But that was just one of at least 20 books written or co-written by Andrea Curami. The below list compiled by Dino Brunori may not be complete:
Ferrari: Road and Racing History (2000)
Ferrari. La storia di un Mito 1947 – 2000 ( 2000)
1000 Km di Monza. Trofeo Filippo Caracciolo (1998)
Alfa Romeo & Mille Miglia (2010)
50 Years of Ferrari: 1947-1997 with Tony Antonini ( 1997)
Mercedes-Benz & Mille Miglia ( 2008)
Porsche & Mille Miglia (2002)
Lancia Stratos, Thirty Years Later (2003)
Mille Miglia Race: The Postwar Years (1998)
La Sport e I suoi artigiani with Piero Vergnano (2002)
Enrico Nardi, a fast life, with Dino Brunori (2009)
Transporti del Regno Iniziativa Privata e Intervento Statale in Italia 1861-1946 with Paolo Ferrari ( 2007)
Industria Bellica Anni Trenta: Commesse Militari, L’Ansaldo Ed Altri with Lucio Ceva
Industria bellica degli anni trenta (Military industry in the ’30s) with Lucio Ceva (1992)
Giulio Dohuet: Scritti 1901 – 1905 with Giorgio Rochat (1993)
Alle origini della Breda Meccanica Bresciana (2009)
La guerra navale 1914 – 1918 (The naval war) (1999)
Insegnamentoi dell’aeronautica nella realtà milanese (Learning to fly in Milano from the beginning of the era) (2003)