Photos by Roberto Motta and Centro Documentazione Alfa Romeo, Arese, Milano
Copyright 2023 Robert LIttle
"Reserved and almost shy in private life, aggressive and combative on the track, Nanni Galli was one of the last ‘Knights of Risk’ and the protagonist of an unrepeatable and unforgetable era."
"TheLife of Nanni Galli" is written by the noted Milanese motorsports writer and a co-producer of some of the important elements of this website…Roberto Motta. '
Perhaps you have seen his work at VeloceToday.com or at a wide variety of Italian motorsports journals.
This work is very well researched and composed... and is an honorable testament to Mr. Galli's achievements."
Giovanni Giuseppe Gilberto Galli was born in Bologna on 2 October 1940 into a wealthy family, in which his father was a textile industrialist. Like many drivers of the 1960's, he began racing under a pseudonym, as his parents considered motor racing too dangerous a sport.
He first made his debut with karts, then decided to switch to touring cars.
In 1964, he obtained his first victory in the Coppa della Consuma on a Steyr-Puch lent to him by his friend Roberto Benelli. That victory convinced him to buy a Morris Mini Cooper to compete in the Italian Speed Championship for the following season.
With that car, he won 10 of the 11 races of the 1965 Italian Touring Car Championship and stood out as one of the fastest Italian drivers.
The meeting with Chiti and Autodelta
In 1966, he bought an Alfa Romeo GTA and had his first meeting with the top management of Autodelta at the end of practice for the Jolly Club 4-hour Monza Trophy..., a race valid for the European Touring Car Challenge.
Galli, shared the GTA with his friend Romano Martini and was sure of obtaining a good result. But his enthusiasm vanished when the official Autodelta cars, equipped with the sliding block 'slittone' took to the track.
Nonetheless, during the tests, Galli managed to be faster than one of the four official GTAs... something that did not go unnoticed by the top management of the Casa del Portello.
At the end of the tests, Nanni went to the Autodelta pits to talk to Ing. Chiti, and said to him:
“Engineer, I spent a lot of money to race with the GTA and then you won't give me the parts to be competitive? Give me that new accessory too, tonight I'll mount it and tomorrow we'll see who's faster"'.
Naturally Ing. Chiti's answer was negative, but Chiti invited him to test an official car at the Balocco.
Two weeks later, Nanni went to the Settimo Milanese headquarters of Autodelta, was received by the sporting director Maurizio Siena, and together drove to the then-newly constructed Balocco test facility.
Practice went very well and... even though he didn't know the track, he was faster than the official drivers and set the new track record.
At the end, he met Ing. Chiti who offered him an agreement: Autodelta would take back his GTA and make official cars available to him to race, thus making him an Autodelta driver.
The debut with the official factory-owned GTA took place in the trials of the 6 Hours of the Nürburgring on 3 July. In the first practice session he was among the fastest on the track. Then on the following day, while tackling the final part of the track... which was developed inside of a forest, he lost control and destroyed the GTA.
The race debut took place on July 30 at the 500 km of Snerton; Nanni obtained the 2nd fastest time in qualifying but was forced to retire due to the failure of the rear axle shaft bearings.
In the following races, he was more careful and... complying with the team orders, contributed to the victory of Alfa Romeo of the Division 2 European Touring Car Championship.
Nanni and the ‘33/2’
In 1967, Autodelta began development of the '33', the first Alfa Romeo 'race car' built after Nino Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio's World Championship Alfetta 159.
The impact with the new car was not easy and the development required a great effort from both the technicians and the drivers.
After thousands of trials, the 33 made its debut on March 12,1967 and it did it in the best possible way by conquering the victory at Fleron hill climb with lead test driver Teodoro Zeccoli.
It was not an easy season for Nanni; he won the Monte Pellegrino climb with a 33, and had some satisfaction with the GTA, with which, after the victory at Aspern, he raced in some races of the European Touring Car Championship.
During the season, Nanni bought a Brabham BT23 F2 chassis on which he intended to mount an Alfa Romeo engine derived from the Alfa Romeo GT 1600. He made his initial appearance on the Rome Vallelunga Grand Prix circuit with the assistance of the manufacturer, at the end of the season.
It was not a lucky race and he finished in 5th place.
The 1968 season: a season of hard work but full of satisfaction.
In December 1967, Nanni tried the modified 33/2, and found it much improved in every detail.
The season started at the 24 Hours of Daytona on February 4,1968 with Nanni happy to race with his friend Ignazio Giunti.
The two young drivers had a similar physical build and the same driving style... but above all they were friends and knew how to work together to always get the best out of their car.
Unfortunately, during the pre-race tests, Giunti had a bad accident and suffered traumas that did not allow him to race for some time.
During the season Nanni drove the 33 in nine races: he won the Republic Grand Prix at Vallelunga (June 2) and the Mugello Grand Prix (July 28) and obtained 2nd place at the famedTarga Florio (May 5), and in the 500 Km of Imola (September 15).
We must remember his great performance at Le Mans, which was held in September of 1968 due to strike problems; together with Giunti he finished in 4th place and 1st in class.
It was truly an historic race and the 33, in the long tail version also took 5th and 6th place, proving that it had finally achieved good reliability.
In the same season, Nanni took part in 5 races of the European Touring Car Championship with the GTA.
In the meantime, the 33 three liter project got underway with the goal of racing with the new car at the 1969 24 Hours of Daytona.
The 33/3 immediately proved to be a difficult car and the progress that had been made on the 33/2 disappared. The new car was not ready for the Daytona race and instead had its formal debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring the following month.
1969: a difficult year
As mentioned, the 33/3 made its debut at Sebring.
The team was unable to adapt the car to the hot climate of Florida, so much so that it had problems right from the first practice sessions. In the race it was a disaster. Nanni was forced to retire due to the loss of a wheel after only 3 laps. The cars' of teammates Casoni and Bianchi surrendered due to overheating of the engine.
Back in Europe, Autodelta sent a 33/3 to Le Mans for spring testing... during which Bianchi tragically suffered a fatal accident. The terrible accident came down hard on the Alfa Romeo and Autodelta environment, so much so that the development of the car was interrupted.
Nanni then continued his F2 adventure with Tecno, starting at Truxon, Hochenheim, Pau, Nürburgring and Pergusa.
In the meantime, Autodelta decided to take part in the Targa Florio on 4 May 1969 with the old 33/2. Nanni started with Giunti, but was forced to retire.
For the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Nanni was contacted by Gérard Docarouge who offered him the Matra MS630. For him, and for Autodelta, it was a very useful experience because he discovered that the Matra was aerodynamically far advanced compared to Alfa Romeo. He defined the trans alpine V-12 engine as:
“...extraordinarily superior to the Alfa Romeo V8. Very elastic, bright but not nervous”.
Matra asked Autodelta for the possibility of also having Nino Vaccarella and Piers Courage available.
The experience gained at Le Mans allowed Nanni to help the development of the 33/3 to proceed much faster.
The new car reappeared in the race at the 1000 km of Zeltweg, where Galli and Giunti were forced to retire.
Nanni concluded his season with the Imola 500km where he drove the 33/3 to a disappointing 18th place.
1970: a year of changes
Alfa Romeo, or perhaps it is better to say IRI the main shareholder, decided to continue the development of the 33 with the ambition of aiming for absolute victory, and this brought the inflow of capital back to Autodelta.
Meanwhile, Nanni's friend and teammate, Ignazio Giunti left Autodelta for Ferrari. Nanni repeatedly said he was happy with his friend's choice, and was convinced that he would face an interesting challenge, also because Giunti could make his debut with the 312B in F1.
Rolf Stommelen, replaced Giunti at the wheel of the 33/3 .
Also, Nanni, like Giunti, had the dream of reaching F1 and, by virtue of the fact that Ing. Chiti was developing an engine for F1, he was convinced that he would someday have the possibility to realize his dream.
The season began with the 1000 km of Buenos Aires, where the 33/3 proved to be superior to the Matra and very close to the Porsche. Everything seemed to go well and, despite being forced to surrender, the 33/3 proved to be competitive, even managing to lead the race for several laps.
Over the course of the season Nanni took part in 11 races with the 33/3, obtaining 2nd place at the Imola 500 km as his best result. He also raced with the GTAm 2000 and the GTA 1300 Junior, and also took part in the Mugello Grand Prix with the Lola T210.
Then, on 4 September 1970, the 33/3 made its debut in the official tests of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. We must remember that, during the season, Alfa Romeo had reached an agreement for the supply of some power units with McLaren. The Italian V8 was mounted on the M7D/1, a car derived from the M7A, which was initially entrusted to Andrea de Adamich, who used it without any success in some of the championship races.
After various qualifying attempts, de Adamich used the M14D starting from the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. For the Italian Grand Prix, Alfa Romeo lined up two cars, the M7D/1 was entrusted to Nanni, and the M14D to de Adamich. For Galli it was an unfortunate debut and he failed to qualify.
Season 1971: competing on all fronts
Alfa Romeo had dissolved the agreement with McLaren in favor of a collaboration with March, who made chassis 711-1 available. This chassis was mainly used by de Adamich, while Nanni used it in the Monaco and Austrian Grand Prixs. The same year, thanks to the financial help of Count Zanon, Nanni had chassis 711-4 at his disposal which he raced with both the Alfa Romeo engine and the Ford-Cosworth engine.
His debut with the new car, equipped with an Alfa Romeo engine, took place in practice for the Monte Carlo Grand Prix but he failed to qualify for the race.
In the following races, with the 711-4 equipped with the Alfa Romeo engine, he obtained 12th place at the Nürburgring and at Zeltweg. In the other races he used the Ford-Cosworth engine.
He got his best result at Silverstone where he finished 11th.
In the same year he contributed to the development of the new Tecno F1 with 12-cylinder 'boxer' engine, a car that was supposed to make its debut in the Victory Race in October.
Parallel to his activity in F1, he continued his commitment with Alfa Romeo and took part in 8 races with the 33/3 and had the new 33TT3 at his disposal at the Zeltweg and Watkins Glen 1000 km tests.
His best result was 2nd place at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
1972: a year full of disappointments
This was the year in which Autodelta fielded the 33TT3, but it was also the year in which relations between Galli and Alfa Romeo Autodelta deteriorated to the point of breaking up.
Among the probable causes of the divorce, we recall that:
1.) Galli was very critical both on the choices made by the Autodelta management and on the competitiveness of the 33TT3, expressing his ideas to journalists.
2). The 'bad' result he obtained in the Targa Florio and his participation in the French Grand Prix driving a Ferrari 312 B2.
But let's see how the season went.
In the opening races of the championship, the 33TT3 was soundly beaten by the Ferrari 312P, so much so that, after the fourth Ferrari one-two finish, Autodelta announced it would not race in the 1000 km of Monza and at Spa with he stated goal of returning to the Targa Florio.
To tackle the Sicilian race, Autodelta made a considerable effort by sending 4 cars, entrusted to eight experienced drivers: Andrea de Adamich, Toine Hezemans, Rolf Stommelen, Nino Vaccarella, Vic Elford, Gijs Van Lennep, Nanni Galli and Helmut Marko.
While Ferrari was in dispute with the organizers of the race...while at first it revealed the possibility of deserting the event entirely, then it sent only one car for Arturo Merzario- Sandro Munari.
On race day Vic Elford started like a bullet but over the course of the 1st lap he broke the oil pan.
Merzario's Ferrari then took the lead. On lap 3, Stommelen stopped with a broken V8. Behind the Ferrari passed the 33TT3 of Galli, who had driven carefully without ever risking the mechanics of the car, and handed over the wheel to Helmut Marko.
Meanwhile, Munari who had replaced Merzario on the 312P proved to be slow, so much so that the wild Marko overtook him.
The Alfa thus remained in the lead for the next 2 laps, then, as expected, there was a driver change: the Alfa Romeo and the Ferrari stopped in the pits. Merzario and the 312P resumed the race after pitting for 25 seconds, while Galli started after 40 seconds.
Merzario threw himself into the hunt for Galli with the aim of recovering the minute and a half lost by Munari.
On lap 8, at the end of his driving shift, Galli saw the red reserve light come on which, from intermittent to fixed towards Campofelice: there was no fuel, and it was impossible to reach the pits.
At Campofelice, Galli stopped for an emergency top-up, which was documented by the weekly Autosprint, while Merzario took over the lead. The last stint of the race was faced with the reverse situation, with Ferrari in the lead and Alfa Romeo in 2nd position.
Ferrari restarted with Munari, and the 33TT3 with Marko. Munari did just one lap, then passed the car back to Merzario who limited himself to stemming the unleashed Austrian driver. On the last lap, Merzario passed with an advantage of 42", then, driving with 'prudence', he won the race with an 16.8 second advantage.
The Autodelta management went into a rage, and leaked the rumor that the 'searing defeat' was due to a mistake by Galli who, due to a spin, would have lost precious time, and therefore the race.
Relations between them deteriorated to the point of breaking up, so much so that Galli discovered that he would not have been part of the Autodelta team from the weekly Autosprint. After being stranded at Zeltweg, Galli's last race for Alfa Romeo was the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he retired with mechanical problems.
In the same season, Galli brought the Tecno F1 to its debut at the Belgian GP and took 3rd place in the Grand Prix of the Italian Republic at Vallelunga. The result of the race, not valid for the world championship standings, was also obtained thanks to the small number of participants, including the Ferrari drivers.
Galli was called by Ferrari who offered him the opportunity to replace Clay Regazzoni for the French Grand Prix, as the Swiss driver had injured his wrist during a football match and was thus unable to drive an F1.
Galli tested the Ferrari 312 B2 at Fiorano for a few laps and tackled the Grand Prix trials without knowing the French circuit. He got the fastest 20th time in qualifying and finished the race in 13th place.
The approach with Ferrari, albeit occasional, saw the birth of some controversies also in Ferrari: the Ferrari sports director Schetty would have preferred Redman or Merzario, but the choice of driver had been made unquestionably by Drake himself.
Copyright by Robert Little
Nanni Galli shown with Rolf Stommelon at the Twelve Hours of Sebring 1971
1972 1000 Kms of Brands Hatch with Nanni Galli and his 33TT3
1973-1974: racing with the Iso F1 and a farewell to arms
For the 1973 racing season, Galli was hired by Frank Williams, who give him an ISO Ford Cosworth FX3-B. It was a year of disappointments due largely to not having a competitive car and that the team did not have sufficient budget to develop the car; the only noteworthy result was 9th place at the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.
As he will say in an interview, Williams had a new engine available and destined it for Ganley, a driver who had always been less fast than Nanni. For his part, Nanni honored the contract stipulated with Williams, and started the race which he had already decided was his last Grand Prix. He started from 22nd position, and was forced to retire due mechanical problems.
He then spoken heatedly with Williams, and decided to put an end to his sports career.
In 1974, Galli took part in only 2 races with an Abarth-Osella PA2; the 1000 km of Monza and Imola. Realizing the impossibility of competing with competitive cars, he decided to abandon the world of competitions, to devote himself to the management of the family business.
After the racing career
Nanni's passion did not die when he said goodbye to racing, and he never moved away from the beloved world of racing even in his new role as entrepreneur.
Become one of the Italian distributors of the Fruit of the Loom brand, he convinced the US company to sponsor the Williams team in 1979. Years later, getting in touch with the Benetton brothers, he convinced them to invest in F1, first by sponsoring Toleman, which they then bought, and then to found Benetton, a team that achieved consecration in 1994-1995 with the rising star Michael Schumacher
More recently, he took part in the Tecno Monte Carlo GT Nanni Galli V8 Ecoracing project, a dutiful tribute by Pederzani and Ballabio for the champion from Prato who, as an official driver, achieved numerous successes in the Sport Prototype World Championship with the Tipo 33. The car, presented in the Monza pits, took to the track for the GT Cup Open Europe 2019 stage in the days following the passing of Nanni Galli. The debut took place with a single commemorative lap of the track, and it was a tribute to the driver to whom it is dedicated.
Nanni passed away on 12 October 2019, at the age of 79, he is now buried in the family chapel in the Misericordia cemetery in Prato. One of the protagonists of an unrepeatable era has gone with him.
Policy of this Website in Regard to the Use of Images Whose Ownership is Not Known or is Otherwise Unidentifiable.
AutodeltaGoldenYears.com. and RobertLittle.US contributes collection images where the Website Content is described as having “no known copyright restriction.” The phrase “no known copyright restriction” means that AutodeltaGoldenYears.com and RobertLittle.US has determined, to the best of its ability based on available information and belief, that the Website Content is unlikely to be protected by copyright interests and, in all likelihood, is in the public domain.
However, copyright is often difficult to determine with certainty, so the phrase is intended to say that AutodeltaGoldenYears.com and RobertLittle.US is unaware of any copyright restriction, but such restrictions may still exist.
In addition, even if the Website Content is unrestricted from a copyright standpoint, there may be other considerations that would limit your use, such as “Right of Privacy” or “Right of Publicity” of the individuals featured in the images, or other contractual restrictions.
For these reasons, AutodeltaGoldenYears.com and RobertLittle.US makes its content available for personal and non-commercial educational uses consistent with the principles of “fair use”.
If you decide to use the Website Content for commercial or other purposes without undertaking to clear all rights, you will be responsible if someone else owns the rights and the owner objects to your use.
Of course, the use of images identified as being the copyright property of the named individuals or groups identified on each page or attached to each image… is prohibited and is subject to the penalty of law as provided by the United States Copyright law and The Bern Convention among other relevant laws and protections.
Richtlinie dieser Website in Bezug auf die Verwendung von Bildern, deren Rechteinhaber nicht bekannt oder anderweitig nicht identifizierbar ist:
AutodeltaGoldenYears.com. und RobertLittle.US stellen Abbildungen, insbesondere Fotos, zur Verfügung, die als "keine bekannte Copyright-Beschränkung" bezeichnet werden. Die Formulierung "keine bekannte Copyright-Beschränkung" bedeutet, dass AutodeltaGoldenYears.com und RobertLittle.US. nach bestem Wissen und Gewissen festgestellt haben, dass die Abbildungen/Fotos wahrscheinlich nicht urheberrechtlich geschützt sind und sich aller Wahrscheinlichkeit nach in der Public Domain befinden.
Allerdings ist es oft schwierig, das Urheberrecht mit Sicherheit zu bestimmen, so dass der Satz besagt, dass AutodeltaGoldenYears.com und RobertLittle.US keine Kenntnis von urheberrechtlichen Beschränkungen haben, aber solche Beschränkungen dennoch bestehen können.
Darüber hinaus kann es, selbst wenn der Inhalt der Website aus urheberrechtlicher Sicht uneingeschränkt ist, andere Erwägungen geben, die Ihre Nutzung einschränken können, wie z.B. das "Recht auf Privatsphäre" oder das "Recht auf Öffentlichkeit" der auf den Bildern abgebildeten Personen oder andere vertragliche Einschränkungen.
Aus diesen Gründen stellt AutodeltaGoldenYears.com und RobertLittle.US seine Inhalte für persönliche und nicht-kommerzielle Bildungszwecke in Übereinstimmung mit den Grundsätzen des "fair use" zur Verfügung.
Wenn Sie sich entscheiden, den Inhalt der Website für kommerzielle oder andere Zwecke zu nutzen, ohne sich zu verpflichten, alle Rechte zu klären, sind Sie dafür verantwortlich, wenn jemand anderes die Rechte besitzt und der Eigentümer Ihrer Nutzung widerspricht.
Natürlich ist die Verwendung von Bildern, die als urheberrechtliches Eigentum der auf jeder Seite genannten Einzelpersonen oder Gruppen gekennzeichnet sind oder die jedem Bild beigefügt sind, verboten und wird entsprechend dem Urheberrechtsgesetz der USA und der Berner Konvention neben anderen relevanten Gesetzen und Schutzmaßnahmen geahndet.
Politica di questo sito web riguardo l'uso di immagini la cui proprietà non è nota o è altrimenti non identificabile.
AutodeltaGoldenYears.com e RobertLittle.US forniscono immagini, in particolare fotografie, alle quali si fa riferimento come non aventi "nessuna restrizione di copyright nota". La definizione "nessuna restrizione di copyright nota" sta ad indicare che AutodeltaGoldenYears.com e RobertLittle.US hanno determinato, al meglio delle proprie capacità e sulla base delle informazioni e conoscenze disponibili, che è implausibile che le immagini siano protette da copyright, e che pertanto con ogni probabilità sono di dominio pubblico.
Tuttavia il copyright è spesso difficile da determinare con certezza, per cui con tale definizione si intende dire piuttosto che AutodeltaGoldenYears.com e RobertLittle.US non sono a conoscenza di alcuna restrizione sul copyright, sebbene tali restrizioni possano comunque esistere.
Inoltre, anche nei casi in cui il contenuto del sito web sia privo di limitazioni dal punto di vista del copyright, ciò non esclude che possano esserci altre considerazioni che ne limitino l'utilizzo, come il diritto alla privacy o il diritto all’immagine delle persone presenti nelle fotografie, o restrizioni di tipo contrattuale.
Per questi motivi, AutodeltaGoldenYears.com e RobertLittle.US rendono i propri contenuti disponibili per usi educativi personali e non commerciali, in conformità ai principi del "fair use".
Qualora decidessi di usare il contenuto del sito web per scopi commerciali o di altro tipo senza la previa acquisizione di tutti i diritti, sarai responsabile se qualcun altro detiene tali diritti e si oppone al tuo utilizzo.
Naturalmente, l'uso di immagini contrassegnate come protette da copyright di cui sono titolari individui o gruppi identificati in ciascuna pagina o allegati a ciascuna immagine, è proibito ed è soggetto alle sanzioni previste dalla legge sul copyright degli Stati Uniti e dalla Convenzione di Berna, oltre che dalle altre leggi e protezioni pertinenti.