I wrote recently of my visit to the Alfa Romeo test track at Balocco, but I was reminded of what preceded the visit, and that was a press conference at Alfa Romeo HQ at Arese, north of Milan.
We were also able to visit the museum and see wonderful examples of Alfa Romeo's great motor racing history, like the Alfetta Tipo 159.
This was a car in which Juan Manuel Fangio won two world championships (1950-51).
Our host, Dottore Silvano Tagini, Managing Director of Alfa Romeo Australia had arranged for the journalists travelling with our group to meet the then President of Alfa Romeo SpA, Dottore Gaetano Cortese.
He was your typical urbane, charming Italian, with perfect manners and composure, especially in light of the usually-aggressive questioning from the Australian journalists.
However, I asked him about Alfa Romeo in motor sport and he turned towards me, with a glint in his eyes and an obvious affinity for the subject.
“Today, you will see the Tipo 33 at Balocco, and you will see why we invest in motor racing. It is the pinnacle of vehicle development and a chance for our young engineers to learn very quickly in a high pressure environment. I think overall, that motor sport is more than just winning races. It helps everyone in the company learn important lessons.”
Sr. Cortese was, at that time not only MD of Alfa Romeo, but also an integral part of the senior management of IRI, the government-run corporation which managed all of the Italian government’s industrial operations, including Alfa Romeo, Alitalia and the Alitalia Hotels Group.
|Dr. Cortese (L) at the launch of the Alfa Romeo 8c Competizione in Amsterdam|
Recently, he served as Italy’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, and is a highly-respected member of Italian industrial society.