GIORDANO MOZZI: LIFE IN POLE POSITION
A life of victories and human experience: Giordano Mozzi, one of the most important racing-drivers in automotive history tells us about his career and how he learned from every race.
A man of discipline and good humor: such is Giordano Mozzi and thanks to his skill and determination he has managed to become, in a very short time, the elected ‘top-driver’ within the sport of historic automobile time-trials. He has also won two Thousand-mile (Mille Miglia) events and has a long list of placings in all the important competitions within his chosen branch of motorsport. It began with his countryman, the mythical Tazio Nuvolari who inspired him to better himself in a sport, which is first-and-foremost about racing against the clock rather than head-to-head against other competitors. At his side, in life as in sport, there is a woman always pointing him in the right direction: Stefania Biacca, his wife in private life and map-reader in competition. The two have partnered each other at almost every event of his career sharing joy and tension and benefitting from an entire gamut of emotions. So, Giordano Mozzi is no pessimist, on the contrary, he wears his badge of optimism with pride: earned through an acute awareness of how much his career and life experiences are privileges. He told us of the time he found himself behind the wheel of the oldest Ferrari in the world, driving together with the two other women in his life, and of when he had the honor to be accompanied by a young man who was blind. But - let’s start at the beginning…
How was the passion born which carried him on to become one of the finest exponents of timed auto-trials in the world?
Simply and banally, for a laugh. The dad of a mate of mine entered his son and me in a vintage car event. It was in 2006 and I was a complete stranger to this type of competition: I only had experience of motorbikes and cars in full-on racing events, a different thing altogether. The father though, owned this historic car, which he hadn’t used for ages, and he invited us to compete in it: me to navigate and my mate as driver. We were newcomers, but extremely curious, thus we enjoyed ourselves and even did well and got a good place in the results although it was our first time. After that my mate became involved in other projects but by now I was hooked: I certainly would have liked to have another go. I went home and asked my wife Stefania if she would be my co-partner. Another time, for fun, we were competing in an event: this time I drove, she navigated. The result was positive both in terms of enjoyment and our placing. From there we began to compete at regional level gaining good results and building a reputation. I was over forty years of age and it felt like a reinvention of myself: I had never imagined myself taking part in historic car competitions, still less reaching the position where I am now, winning at international level.
Your CV shows a long list of victories. Is there one that you remember in particular?
Certainly my first win in the Mille Miglia in 2011. It’s the race, which decides for the rest of the year who is going to represent the historic automobile world, it’s the best known, the greatest and most prestigious and to win it was unforgettable. Even to be selected, as one of the competitors is an honor, managing to cross the finish line is indescribable. I won it during the early years of my new career, and moreover, in a car which until then, had never won, the Aston Martin Le Mans 1933. From that point on, a world of opportunity opened up to me and my wife: we have been recognized and feted wherever we go, thanks as well to our natural, easygoing nature: a well-matched couple, approachable and smiling, always trustworthy, both from a humanistic point of view as well as a professional one. We’ve always been this way and that’s one of the reasons why many collectors chose and continue to choose to trust us with their cars.
A little bit about what became of chassis No 002… Okay. It belonged to a collector from New York who had hardly used it for many years - partly through lack of
The more open-minded one is, the better to face life’s difficulties, by understanding them, one can overcome them.
Giordano Mozzi and Stefania Biacca triumph at the New Orleans 100 Mile event for historic cars driving the world’s oldest Ferrari, chassis number 002.
motivation, partly out of jealously. He’d been invited to take part in the 100 mile race in New Orleans the previous November, and the organizer, who we knew from the Mille Miglia of the year before, suggested myself and my wife, should the collector decide to get someone to drive his Ferrari. So it happened that we found ourselves driving the oldest Ferrari in the world, chassis No 002, the only survivor to this day of the four products to have been fitted with bodywork 159C dating from 1947. To race this car and actually to win in it was the most glorious moment, especially for an Italian.
In the last couple of years your competition schedule has taken you round the world. What have you learnt after competing in so many countries?
Everywhere we’ve been there are different rules and the same competitions are different, ranging from variations in timed trials to logistical issues and how the results are drawn up. From each we have learnt so much and so if today we are still the world’s number one driving couple, it’s thanks to our experience at international level, more open-minded, facing different challenges, much more knowledgeable.
The experience that we take back home with us is an extraordinary legacy, which the majority of competitors do not have, perhaps through fear of the unknown. We’re talking about a unique sporting perspective, and also a life experience which enriches us profoundly and which goes beyond competitive results. Nevertheless, if one can bag a victory, one returns home fulfilled.
You take part in most events along with your wife Stefania. Does the tension help you both in your marriage partnership?
I always say, and so many other couples will confirm, it’s a reliability test, an incredible test of love, sometimes it does put a strain on the relationship because when you’re there everyone wants to do well, but if you make a mistake it creates tension within the car and that tests one’s selfcontrol. In our case though, the common goal is always to do the best we can together, to help each other and work as a team so we can overcome bad feeling and at the end of the event we feel even stronger as a couple precisely because we have mastered the tension and that allowed us to understand each other better. Basically, our approach - which is probably the key - remains that of enjoyment, we’re well aware that what we have experienced has been a great privilege: travelling the world, getting to know so many cultures and people, doing what we love, competing in the Mille Miglia, taking part in important events worldwide, is without doubt great good fortune and so it only fair to live all this joyously, sharing our happiness between each other and those folk who follow us.
Mille Miglia 2017 in the vintage car conceived by Enzo Ferrari.
Another great privilege for you has been to compete alongside the other two women in your life, your mother and your daughter. How was that?
Amazing, not just because we competed, but also because we won. I’ve had the honor of winning with each of the women in my life, at least one important competition. With my wife Stefania, we have won two Mille Miglias, a Dolomite Gold Cup, three Alpine Stars, more than eighty competitions around the world, while with my daughter Arianna in 2015 we climbed to the top of the podium in the Florida Car Marathon in Miami, which is still the most famous classic timed-trial in America.
Then with my mother, in 2012, we won the Florio Plate in Sicily, the oldest competition in the world. It was a fourday event, 1,100 kilometers with loads of timed sections: my mother was 78 years old when we won, the perfect navigator. To these three women can be added a male family member, my son, who comes with us as an assistant to the more important events such as the Mille Miglia or the Monte Carlo Rally: you can rest assured that he knows how to help us keep our tempers in check and maintain calm, so important in competition.
For three years now you and Stefania have been part of the M.I.T.E Project, which offers the opportunity for blind and partially-sighted people to participate as navigators at international and national rallies and timed-trials. How does that work?
At one of the events that we participated in, amongst the entrants were three young people from the M.I.T.E. project: one of whom, Oscar, stood out in personality, energy and bravura, so much so that we found ourselves crossing the finish line virtually attached. During the prize-giving he showed himself unabashed by, all of a sudden, very pointedly saying to me: “Right, well now I can’t wait to do a race with Mozzi”. It was enough, it was done. We entered a rally in Biella and won easily. Within him and the others there was a passion, which overwhelmed us immediately. Later on we got to know the founder of the project M.I.T.E., Gilberto Pozza who introduced us into this world of grit and determination. These young people have a unique sensibility, and a capacity to ‘feel’ the car, which gives them a greater gift for navigation than everyone else. We live this experience, us and the young people, with extreme serenity because we know that for us all it is a unique moment which gives us back so much.
To go through such an experience changes ones outlook and that is also a privilege.
What are the values, which inspire you in your professional career?
Well, sharing: we lose together and we win together. Only by sharing every moment of the event do we manage to savor every morsel of the pleasure: you start off together and you don’t get to the finish on your own.
Victory in the 2014 Mille Miglia driving a 1928 Lancia Lambda.
The “Mille Miglia Festival” in Japan.