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The first king of America



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Dario Resta


Sunbeam Grand Prix 12/16 HP




Grand Prix de l'ACF (July 12, 1913)


Champ Car is a well-known motor-racing championship in the States and various other countries. Former F1 drivers like Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya honed their skills in this typical US-based series. But one often forgets that this drivers championship is older than the F1 World Championship. It exists since 1916, so 90 years ago. People also tend to forget the name of the great European driver who won this first American championship. His name was Dario Resta.

Dario Resta was born in Faenza (Emilia-Romagna) on August 19, 1882. This town, about 15km from Imola, is the place where Scuderia Minardi (now Toro Rosso) is situated. His father Federico decided to move to London with his family when his son was only two. This is where young Dario was raised and where he lived for the main part of his life.

From Brooklands to ACF

It seems that Dario began racing in 1907, at the age of 25, at a time when the history of motor racing was only beginning. On July 6, 1907, he took part in the Montagu Cup, the very first race at the now legendary Brooklands track. There were eight entries, he drove Fry’s Mercedes GP car. The Italian-born driver was very close to success. While playing a waiting game he took the lead two laps before the chequered flag. But on the last of eleven laps he did not see the signal telling him to go on the finishing straight. Consequently he went on driving on the outer circuit. Because of this mistake he finished only third while Hutton (Mercedes) won the race ahead of Japanese Prince Okura (Fiat). Resta put in a protest but officials did not want to hear him.

Less than one month later, on August 1st, Resta took his first victory in the Prix de la France, still at Brooklands, at the wheel of the Mercedes GP.

In 1908, at the Easter meeting, Resta was leading Frank Newton (Napier). The latter began to pass Dario but slipped down the banking. Both cars interlocked and got damaged. After the race Resta put in a protest but, as in 1907, it failed.

Early July he took part in the third ACF Grand Prix. This race, a kind of a World Championship of its era, took place in Dieppe. Resta was at the wheel of an Austin. He finished 19th, 4 minutes behind Moore Brabazon’s Austin and two hours behind the winner, Christian Lautenschlager (Mercedes).

Back to Great Britain, he finished 2nd in the Montagu Cup at the wheel of his usual Mercedes GP. At the end of September he was on the Isle of Man driving an Arrol-Johnston in the “four-inch race” (Tourist Trophy).

Arrol-Johnston was a Scottish manufacturer which had been officially founded in 1901 by two engineers: William Arrol and George Johnston. This manufacturer won the very first Tourist Trophy race for cars on the Isle of Man. The driver was John Napier. Unfortunately Resta could not exploit the car the way Napier had done and gave up. Also in this 1908 race were two Hillmans driven by Louis Coatalen, the designer, and Kenelm Lee Guinness, the KLG spark plugs founder. Both men would play a key role in Resta’s career, as we will see later.

His second place behind Newton at the Whitsun meeting was surely more satisfying than his retirement in the TT.

Another Resta drive for Arrol-Johnston in a major event was as disappointing as on the Isle of Man race because he finished only 8th in the Coupe des Voiturettes at the French circuit of Boulogne in 1911.


1912 was an important year for Dario Resta as he was recruited by Sunbeam as an official driver. Sunbeam was a key British car manufacturer at the beginning of the 20th century. The first Sunbeam prototypes were created in 1899 by the John Marston Co Ltd, a cycle factory which had existed since 1859. The first Sunbeam production car was sold in 1901. Eight years later, a French engineer came over from the Hillman company to join the Sunbeam factory. We know his name: Louis Coatalen. He became chief designer to boost Sunbeam's dynamism. This was due to the Frenchman's creativity and his love of racing. He was convinced that success in motor racing was the best promotion possible. Moreover, as I explained above, Louis Coatalen was a racing driver: he won 22 prizes at Brooklands at the wheel of the Sunbeam Toodles II. Coatalen was at the root of Resta's recruitment.

At the end of June 1912 the ACF Grand Prix took place in Dieppe. It was the first time since 1908 that this important race was organized. Four Sunbeams appeared at the start of this two-day race. Victor Rigal, Emile Medinger, Gustave Caillois and, of course, Dario Resta were the drivers. The British cars raced in the Voiturette category.

At the end of the first day Bruce-Brown (Fiat) was leading ahead of Boillot (Peugeot), Wagner (Fiat), Resta and Rigal. The latter two completed the ten laps just over seven hours. Resta was only 7’42’’ behind Wagner and 35’17’’ from the leader. Of course the Sunbeams were dominating the Coupe de l’Auto, the voiturette car classification, but Hancock’s Vauxhall and “Anford”’s Roland-Pillain were very close.

On the second day of the race David Bruce-Brown was disqualified because he refuelled outside of the pits. This could have been an opportunity for Resta to finish third and maybe second if he would have reduced the gap with Wagner. Unfortunately, in spite of a fine performance, he was unable to achieve that. Wagner did a superb time of 7h07’56’’, about twelve minutes ahead of Boillot, who was declared the aggregate winner. Rigal too did well, finishing only 1’15’’ behind Boillot and over seven minutes ahead of Resta, who kept fourth in the final standings. Fifth was Medinger on the third Sunbeam. Thus, the British constructor took the first three places in the Coupe de l’Auto. Thanks to this big success Sunbeam became a famous name. Once the team was back in Britain the Royal Automobile Club organized a dinner to celebrate the heroes.

In September Resta was back at Brooklands, with Coatalen and Crossman, the three drivers attempting to break some records. They succeeded: the 100 miles (80.34mph), the 1,000 miles (76.1mph) and the 391 miles (in five hours) were in their pockets. Their fastest lap was 86.77 mph.

A year later, the ACF GP took place in Amiens on June 12th, 1913, for a 900km race. Once again the Sunbeams did really well with Chassagne (3rd) behind the Peugeots of Boillot and Goux. Resta was sixth, not far adrift from Bablot and Guyot, both on Delage.

The Coupe des Voiturettes, less than three months later, on the French circuit of Boulogne was a disappointment: Dario crashed because of rear axle trouble while Kenelm Lee Guinness finished third behind Boillot and Goux.

1913 was also the year when Louis Coatalen decided to very closely study the design of the now famous and revolutinary Peugeot L76. This car, created in 1912, was a marker in the history of racing cars: it was the first car in the world with a hemi engine, double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. This car, and more specifically its 7.6-litre engine, went on to inspire both Miller and Offenhauser, two key engine designers in the history of US racing. It also inspired Coatalen, who acquired one of these Peugeots, which was brought to Great Britain by Resta himself. After studying the French car Coatalen designed a new Sunbeam for the 1914 season.

In the meantime, on October 1st, 1913, Resta was at the wheel of a six-cylinder Sunbeam with Jean Chassagne and Kenelm Lee Guinness. The three men drove their car at Brooklands during twelve hours and beat the 200 miles, 300 miles and 400 miles world records.

In 1914, at the Easter Brooklands meeting, Resta was driving the aero-engined Sunbeam V12 and was second in the First Lightning Start Handicap race.

At the beginning of June, he took part in the Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man. Both Guinness brothers were his team mates. Kenelm won the race with the Sunbeam “which looked like a Peugeot” while Algernon retired after 12 out of 16 laps. For Dario it was another disappointment as he also retired with engine trouble, after a single lap.

Fortunately his race in the ACF Grand Prix was better. It would be the very last grande épreuve before the First World War. It took place south of Lyon, on a 37km track between the towns of Brignais, Givors and Rive-de-Gier. Three drivers raced for Sunbeam: Resta, Chassagne and Kenelm Lee Guinness. Mercedes, Peugeot and Delage were the favourites for victory: one German constructor racing against two French constructors, one month before the war…

As soon as the race begun Resta was fourth behind Sailer (Mercedes), Boillot (Peugeot) and Duray (Delage). Dario succeeded in staying in the top six all race and finished fifth, after more than eight hours of racing, nearly 21 minutes behind the winner Lautenschlager (Mercedes) and 11’30” behind Jules Goux (Peugeot) who was fourth. The two other Sunbeams retired.

In August Resta won the Lightning Long Handicap race in the August Bank Holiday meeting at Brooklands and a race at Saltburn Sands at the wheel of the Sunbeam V12.

Europe was about to live a four-year tragedy and racing was unthinkable during this period. But this was not the case in the United States… At the end of 1914, Dario Resta was in America on behalf of Sunbeam. There he met Alphonse G Kaufman who was the importer of Peugeot in America. Kaufman made an offer to the European driver: to drive a Peugeot L76 for the American races in 1915. Resta could not refuse. This is how the legend began.

America, America

Dario's first race was the American Grand Prize, one of the main events of the season. It was held on February 27th in San Francisco on a 3.84-mile track along the bay. There were 30 drivers having to cope with intermittent rain all during the 406-mile race. It was not an easy race but Dario took the lead as soon as the first lap. Hughie Hugues took the lead on lap 36 (surely because of Dario’s pitstop) but Dario was back in first position on lap 46 and won the race after seven hours, 6’43’’ ahead of Wilcox (Stutz) and 13’53’’ ahead of Hugues (Fiat).

One week later another race took place on the same circuit: the Vanderbilt Cup, the most prestigious American race at the beginning of the twentieth century. This time there were only 77 laps but the drivers were the same. Alley (Duesenberg) took the lead and kept it until lap 20. Then Resta managed to overtake the American driver and led the race until the finish. Second once again was Wilcox (Stutz), seven minutes behind the winner. Two races, two victories.

The next race was the now famous 500 miles of Indianapolis. For the first time in the history of this race there was real qualifying to sort out the starting grid. Dario Resta, who by now was driving an evolution of the L76 with a 4.5-litre engine, took 3rd on the grid with a speed of 98.47 mph to compare with the 98.90 mph of poleman Howard Wilcox. Between them was Ralph De Palma and his Mercedes with a speed of 98.58 mph. The race was planned on May 29th, 1915 but because of rain organizers had to postpone the race until May 31st.

The race turned into some sort of a remake of the 1914 ACF Grand Prix: Mercedes against Peugeot, Germany against France. But De Palma and Resta, both Italian-born drivers, did not care about it. Neither did the spectators.

Resta was the first leader of the race, but for just one lap. Wilcox took the lead on the second lap and stayed ahead until lap 6 when Anderson (Stutz) passed him. Finally Resta took the lead back twenty-six laps later. The next 100 laps developed into a fierce battle between De Palma and Resta. De Palma’s Mercedes was faster in the turns while Resta’s Peugeot was faster on the straights. Dario established a new American record for 100 miles with a time of 1h07’30”45. Finally, from lap 135 on, when De Palma succeeded in overtaking Resta, the Mercedes driver was able to increase the gap to win by 3’29’’ from Resta. In fact, the Peugeot’s tyre had suffered a puncture, forcing Dario to pit and losing him any hope of victory. But it all nearly failed for De Palma: a connecting rod broke three laps before the chequered flag. Fortunately for De Palma (and unfortunately for Resta!) the German car was able to stumble across the line in first position.

The next race took place in Chicago at the end of June. It was a 500 mile-race on a board track, made of wood, and the inaugural race of the 2-mile Chicago Speedway. Resta took the lead as soon as the start. He was overtaken by Porporato (Sunbeam) on lap 37 who was so fast that he beat Resta’s American record for 100 miles. But after a 23-lap battle with Porporato, Resta retook the lead and crossed the line as the winner. His average speed was impressive: 97.582 mph! The 500-mile race record was smashed! An American magazine described Resta as a “Mercurian Monarch” after this exploit. Thanks to this victory, Resta received prize money of $23,000, much more than he got for his Indy podium which was worth $10,900.

One week later Resta was in Sioux City, Iowa, for his first race on a dirt oval. He retired after only six laps because of oil pipe trouble.

At the beginning of August, Resta was back in Chicago for a minor event: a 100-mile race called the Challenge Cup Match race. There were only four entrants. Dario won easily while he had one serious opponent: Earl Cooper (Stutz). Nevertheless it was a historic victory, won at an average of 101.86 mph, the first time that an American 100-mile race was covered in less than an hour, forcing a journalist to write, “Who better than Resta?”.

Then Dario raced in Minneapolis and in the Astor Cup at Sheepshead Bay, near New York. He retired despite being the favourite in both events. Fortunately his last race was a beautiful final point to a wonderful season: he won the Harkness Gold Metal Race, once again at Sheepshead Bay, in November. Nevertheless it was a lucky victory. In fact the race was dominated by Ralph Mulford at the wheel of his Peugeot. Unfortunately for the American driver a broken oil line forced him to retire only four laps before the finish. It gifted the win to second-placed Resta, who was the first to cross the line, 1’38’’ ahead of Burman’s Peugeot.

The 1915 season was a real success for Resta. He won five out of nine races. He led all but one race (Sioux City) and was the leader in 39% of the total distance of these nine races. He also earned $39,900 of prize money, which was a big amount.

There was no official championship in 1915 but Motor Age magazine used to name the “unofficial” road race champion of the year since 1909. Thus, Earl Cooper was named 1915 Road Race Champion and Dario Resta vice-champion. This was due to his two victories in San Francisco at the beginning of 1915. In fact they were the only two road races in which Resta took part as the seven other races were on board tracks, a dirt oval (Sioux City), cement (Minneapolis) and a brick oval (Indy). If we compare Dario’s results to Cooper’s we notice that the “champion” took part in five road races and won two times. The only difference with Dario was a second place at Elgin.

American journalist C.G. Sinsabaugh wrote in Motor Age in December 1915: “The showing of Resta, of course, carries considerable weight. The dual victory at San Francisco certainly stamps the Italian-Englishman as a clever pilot. He won both the Grand Prize and the Vanderbilt, both blue ribbon events, and in doing so he defeated the pick of the American field. But he stopped there and appeared in no other road race during the season.”

In 1916, the AAA (American Automobile Association) decided to create a true and official championship. If you have read a couple of articles or visited a few websites you may notice that some of them indicate AAA championships running from 1909. This is partly true. In fact, in 1926, Val Haresnap, Secretary of the AAA, decided to “create” championships a posteriori from 1909 to 1919. He even changed the rules of the 1920 championship! Thus Gaston Chevrolet, who was the 1920 champion, lost his title to Tommy Milton. Gaston Chevrolet could not protest as he died in 1920… However, 1916 was the first official championship and its champion has never been contested and will never be.

The first race was the Metropolitan Trophy race in Sheepshead Bay on March 15th. Dario, still at the wheel of his Peugeot L45, led from lap 15 to lap 58 when his engine broke. The winner was Eddie Rickenbacker at the wheel of a Maxwell. Eddie Rickenbacker was a 26-year old driver who later became an aviation ace during World War I, a car manufacturer from 1925 to 1927, the proprietor of Indianapolis Speedway from 1927 to 1946 and chairman of Eastern Airlines from 1938 to 1963. What a life!

Two weeks later, the drivers were at Indianapolis for the… 300-mile race. In fact this was the only time in history that the famous event did not run 500 miles (except of course the years when the race was stopped due to rain).

Dario was fourth on the grid thanks to a speed of 94.4 mph during qualifying. Aitken (Peugeot) was pole man with a speed of 96.69 mph, followed by Rickenbacker (Maxwell) and Anderson (Premier).

Rickenbacker, the Sheepshead Bay winner, took the lead at the start. He led during nine laps but was overtaken by pole man Aitken because of steer knuckle trouble. He retired two laps later. Then on lap 18, Resta took the lead and kept it until the 120th and final lap! He won in 3h34’17’’, at an average speed of 84 mph. He was followed by Wilbur d’Alene (Duesenberg) at 1’58’’. Thanks to this victory Resta was leading the AAA championship with 900pts. Second was Rickenbacker, with the 600pts of his Sheepshead Bay victory.

The next race was in Chicago where Dario had to fight Rickenbacker and De Palma. The first half of the race turned into a fierce battle between Resta and Rickenbacker at the wheel of a Peugeot. Several times each driver took the lead off the others before, on lap 61, Rickenbacker retired with valve trouble. It was a great opportunity for Resta to take a big lead in the championship over Rickenbacker. But the race was not over: now it was De Palma with his Mercedes who challenged Resta for victory. Remember Indy 1915! Nevertheless, Resta took the lead three laps before the end and won ahead of De Palma. Thanks to this hard-fought victory Resta was now leading the championship with 1,800pts, with Rickenbacker still second.

Dario Resta did not take part in the next two races whereas Ralph De Palma won both races. Consequently, the situation became a bit more difficult for the Italian-English driver: De Palma was now second in the championship, only 130pts behind Resta. Rickenbacker was third with 770pts.

Fortunately for Resta, his two rivals retired in Omaha while he won this 150-mile race, his third victory in four races. He did not race in Tacoma but returned in Cincinnati. He led the first part of the race but, just after mid-race, John Aitken (Peugeot) took the lead. Resta was in a good position to challenge but was disillusioned to retire with a broken radiator just six laps before the end of the 150-lap race.

So at mid-season Resta was still leading the championship with 2,400pts, ahead of De Palma (1,790pts), Rickenbacker (1,570pts) - who won at Tacoma - and Aitken (1,220pts). Given the fact that victory was worth 500 to 900pts (depending on the length of the race) Dario’s gap was small. Moreover, Resta did not show up at Indy in early September, for a 100-mile race won by Aitken. It was the very last non-500-mile race held at Indy. Worst of all, he retired in the Astor Cup at Sheepshead Bay late September. Once again John Aitken was the winner, his third victory in a row! Moreover, Rickenbacker finished second at Sheepshead Bay.

Consequently, Aitken (on the left in the picture) was the new championship leader 2,520pts, ahead of Resta (right, 2,400pts) and Rickenbacker (middle, 1,990pts), with five races still to go.

The next race was in Chicago on October 14th, 1916. The poleman was Aitken but Resta succeeded in winning the race. After nearly two hours and a half he won by only 16’’ ahead of …Aitken (Peugeot) and 1’36’’ ahead of …Rickenbacker (Maxwell). Dario was the leader again with 3,200 pts against 2,940pts for Aitken and 2,210pts for Rickenbacker.

The thriller went on as, two weeks later, at Sheepshead Bay, Aitken added a new victory to his tally while his two rivals retired. Resta retired because of a broken crankshaft. Nevertheless he drove a beautiful race and earned no less than $1,400, while winner Aitken earned “only” $1,250. Now once again, Resta was trailing his rival in the championship (3,440pts to 3,200pts).

Then, on November 16th, the most prestigious race of the year took place in Santa Monica: the Vanderbilt Cup. Remember that the 1915 winner was Dario Resta. This road race was over 294 miles on a 8.4-mile track. Cars started at 10’’ intervals. The first leader was Aitken. But Resta was not far away. He took the lead on lap 4 while, two laps later Rickenbacker (Duesenberg) retired and left his last hopes to be the inaugural AAA champion at the side of the road. On lap 19 Aitken also retired because of a broken valve. Resta was unbeatable that day and didn't lose first position once during the race. He won in a time of over three hours, about eight minutes ahead of Earl Cooper (Stutz). Thanks to this victory he accumulated 900 more points - good news with only two races to go.

Resta at the 1916 Vanderbilt Cup

Next up was the American Grand Prize, two days after the Vanderbilt Cup, on the same Santa Monica track. Resta took the lead as soon as the first lap. In this same lap Aitken retired because of a broken piston. Then the race totally changed: Dario retired because of ignition trouble, leaving Rickenbacker in first position. But two laps later he was overtaken by… John Aitken! In fact the latter had relieved Howard Wilcox (Peugeot). A big fight developed between Aitken and Rickenbacker but the latter retired while in the lead. He then relieved Williams Weightman (Duesenberg) to finish fifth while Aitken won the race. But as relief drivers neither of Resta’s rivals scored any points.

The last race took place in Los Angeles in late November, for the Ascot Derby. However, neither Dario Resta nor John Aitken were there, leaving Rickenbacker to win the race at the wheel of Weightman’s Duesenberg. So, finally, Dario Resta was officially declared the first AAA champion in history.

And deservedly so: during the 1916 season he won five races (Aitken took four), led 348 laps out of a possible 851 (40%) and earned the sum of $44,650. And not just that, as over two seasons he was undoubtedly the best AAA driver of both 1915 and 1916, winning ten races out of nineteen, the best average of both seasons. Moreover, he led everyone one lap out of two. Lastly he earned some 7,000 points in his American career, which is the third best score of the years 1909-1919. Resta was at the peak of his career. Indeed, Who better than Resta?

1917 and 1918 were less amazing. In fact the States entered the World War and races were reduced to a minimum. In September 1917, Dario Resta took part in a race at Sheepshead Bay at the wheel of a Frontenac (Chevrolet Bros’ racing car). He quickly retired. Then, in 1918, during the summer, he drove a Peugeot in Chicago and at Sheepshead Bay, two minor events with only a handful of drivers.

In 1919, more races returned to the calendar, including Indy! For this first Indianapolis race of the post-war era Resta was “back home” at the wheel of a... Sunbeam, as a team mate to Jean Chassagne. But it turned out to be a flawed comeback, as both cars were unable to participate because of engine trouble. Consequently Chassagne was hired by Ballot as a relief driver while Resta did not take part in the race.

He then went to Sheepshead Bay (with a Sunbeam) and Tacoma (with a Peugeot) but did not get the results he deserved.

Then the driver from Livorno got away from racing, although he planned to take part in the 1921 ACF Grand Prix at Le Mans with a Sunbeam. Unfortunately the car was not ready, so he was missing on the starting grid.

The comebacks

1923 became his comeback year, Resta now being 41 years old. First of all he raced in the States twice. His first appearance was in Beverly Hills, California, with Chett Pickup acting as a riding mechanic. Dario was at the wheel of a Miller entered and tuned by Cliff Durant, a rich driver and son of Billy Durant, the founder of General Motors. Durant Jr entered six cars. Dario drove 170 out of 200 laps and was relieved by Cliff Durant himself, who crossed the line in 8th position, some ten minutes behind the winner, Jimmy Murphy, at the wheel of another Durant car…

The next race came at the end of May, the 500 miles of Indianapolis. Resta was in the Packard team alongside Ralph De Palma and Joe Boyer. With an average speed of 98.8 mph the Italo-English driver was third on the grid. His team mate De Palma was only 11th with an qualifying speed of 100.42 mph while Boyer was 13th (98.02 mph). In fact, Resta had “only” managed seventh fastest time but he did it on pole day, when the best places on the grid are granted, whereas De Palma, did his time later on, with the first rows already given away. However, the three Packard drivers retired before mid-race. This was Dario Resta’s last American race.

At the end of 1923 he was back in Europe to take part in some Spanish races for Sunbeam. In 1920 the Sunbeam, Talbot and Darracq companies had merged. So, Resta drove a Talbot 70 in Voiturette races and a Sunbeam in Grand Prix races.

This comeback was really good. He came third in the Penya Rhin GP at Villafranca at the wheel of the Talbot, behind Divo (Talbot) and Zborowski (Aston Martin) and just ahead of De Vizcaya (Elizalde). Tazio Nuvolari (Chiribiri) was fifth.

The next race was the Spanish GP at Sitges, one week after Villafranca. He was driving a Sunbeam but had to retire.

His last race of the season was the Spanish GP for Voiturettes, once again in Villafranca. The entrants were the same as in the Penya Rhin race. This second 600km Villafranca race was a big success for Talbot and for Resta: he won it, just 0’’1 ahead of team mate Divo. Third was Zborowski, about 17’ behind the Talbot duet, and fourth was Nuvolari, 6’ behind Zborowski.

In 1924, Resta returned to racing with Sunbeam. Spring was a good season as in May he won hillclimbs at Aston Hill and South Harting with a Sunbeam GP. The team planned to enter two cars, one for Dario and one for KLG, but did not succeed in preparing the cars in time. So, while Duff and Clement were winning the famous French race at the wheel of their Bentley, Resta and KLG were driving their Talbot 70 in the Swiss GP for Voiturettes. Guinness won the race ahead of Resta.

Seven weeks later, in early August, the Sunbeam team was at Lyon for the ACF Grand Prix, the last big event in which Resta would take part. His two team mates were Henry Segrave and, of course, Kenelm Lee Guinness. There were 21 drivers, amongst which the best of their time, and eight constructors… Among them, Bugatti entered its brand new car, the Bugatti T35.

In the race a fierce fight developed between Fiat, Delage, Alfa Romeo and Sunbeam. Segrave and KLG drove an excellent race, fighting for victory on behalf of the British team. Unfortunately, Resta unable to do the same. He was too slow and finished 10th, one lap behind Giuseppe Campari, the winner. In fact, Dario was so far behind the leader (one lap was 23.145km) that the clerk of the course decided to stop him as soon as the race had ended. In those times, each driver had to complete the total length of the race: even if a driver was several laps behind the winner, the organizers let them complete the remaining laps, while the winner was drinking champagne. But this time not the case of Resta…

The end of a champion

One month later, on September 2nd, 1924, Resta was back at Brooklands, at the wheel of a Sunbeam, trying to beat a land speed record. Unfortunately a security belt broke and punctured a tyre which blew instantly. The driver lost control of the car and crashed. Perkins, the riding mechanic, was only injured but Dario did not survive. It was the destiny of many drivers in those early days of motor racing. This is how Dario’s life ended. He was a great champion and deserves much more than a simple line in some Indy statistics.