Martini & Rossi

The Martini & Rossi company can be traced back to 1847 when four Turin businessmen established the Distilleria Nazionale da Spirito di Vino, to manufacture vermouth, wine flavoured with aromatic herbs. This aperitif became increasingly popular in the nineteeth century. Of the founders Carlo Re died in 1860 and Clemente Michel retired in 1863 and the firm was taken over by one of its commercial agents Alessandro Martini and the book keeper Teofilo Sola. The company was renamed Martini, Sola & Cia although the winemaking was carried out by Luigi Rossi. The resulting mixtures were very successful and sales boomed, the company beginning to export in the late 1860s. In 1879 Rossi finally bought out Sola and the firm became known as Martini & Rossi and eventually passed into the hands of the Rossi Family, Luigi having had four sons (Teofilo, Enrico, Cesare and Ernesto) who oversaw the company's growth at the end of the century. They in turn were replaced by a new generation (grandsons of the founder) in the 1930s. By 1960, however, the firm came under the control of the General Beverage Company in Geneva and in 1992 merged its operations with Bacardi.The company has had an active involvement in motor racing since 1968 when the German distributor of Martini & Rossi sponsored a Porsche 906 sportscar. This led to a relationship with the Porsche factory team in 1971 with a 917 raced by Vic Elford and Gerard Larrousse. The company then hired the JWA Porsche team manager David Yorke to be its motor racing consultant and he suggested that the company sponsor Brabham. This advise was ignored and Martini sponsored the local Tecno F1 team in 1972 and 1973 but without success, although in 1973 the Martini-Porsche relationship revived with the 911 Carrera. After the abortive Tecno involvement, Martini & Rossi took Yorke's advice and sponsored Brabham in 1975, 1976 and 1977. At the same time the company enjoyed a successful sportscar programme with Porsche with the 936 and the 911SC. After taking a year out of F1 in 1978 the company returned with Team Lotus in 1979 but this was not a success and so Martini concentrated on sportscars again in 1980. The realtionship with Porsche came to an end that year and Martini began a longterm partnership with Lancia, initially in sportscar racing but after 1983 in the World Rally Championship. This resulted in six World titles before it was decided to switch to touring cars at the end of 1991 with Alfa Romeo, initially in the Italian national series but then in the International Touring Car Championship. Martini continued to sponsor Lancia in the Italian national rallty championship as well. In 1999, however, the company went into a new partnership with the Ford Motor Company to support its World Championship rally programme.