PEOPLE: VITTORIO JANO
Name: Vittorio Jano
Recruited by Fiat in 1911 Jano worked initially under Luigi Bazzi. When Bazzi moved to Alfa Romeo in 1923 he urged his assistant to join him and Jano arrived in time to design the Alfa Romeo P2 which appeared for the first time at the French GP of 1924, with Giuseppe Campari winning the race. At the Italian GP Antonio Ascari won in a P2 and the following year Ascari was the dominant driver until he crashed and was killed at the French GP. Although the company went on in Grand Prix racing until the end of the year, the P2s were then locked away.
Alfa Romeo turned its attention to sportscar racing and Jano designed the 1750 Sport for the 1929 season. Alfa Corse returned to Grand Prix racing that same year with the old P2s, with Achille Varzi and Gastone Brilli-Peri winning a variety of races. In 1930 Varzi was joined by Tazio Nuvolari and the competition department was gradually taken over by Enzo Ferrari, leaving the factory to race the new sportscars.
In 1932 Jano designed the P3 which Nuvolari debuted in June. The opposition from the German car companies was such that, at the end of the year, the team was disbanded and the P3s were locked away. Jano was transferred to aero-engine design although his cars were later successful, notably when Nuvolari drove a remarkable race to win the German GP at the Nurburgring in 1935 in a Ferrari-run P3.
In 1937 Jano designed the Alfetta 158 for Ferrari. After the war he remained at Alfa until 1954 when he was recruited by Lancia to design a new Grand Prix car. The result was the D50 which appeared late in 1954. By mid 1955, however, the team had suffered the loss of Alberto Ascari, after which Gigi Villoresi began to talk of retirement. The company was also in financial trouble and the disaster at Le Mans added to the undesirability of motor racing. Gianni Lancia decided to sell the F1 cars to Enzo Ferrari. Jano joined Ferrari as a consultant engineer. He went on to develop the Ferrari Dino V6 engine but committed suicide in 1966 after the death of his own son.