The legendary Vanderbilt Cup on display at the Museo, the famous trophy won by Nuvolari in 1936. It’s probably the biggest trophy ever made.
Made of solid silver, 70 cm tall, with a weight of 70 kilos, the cup never left the US. It was made by Cartier for the magnate George Vanderbilt who wanted to reintroduce the omonimous race that his grandfather established in 1904.
The 300-mile race was won by Tazio Nuvolari on an Alfa Romeo 12C-36 in 1936 on the Roosevelt Raceway track, New York. The following year the race was won by Bernd Rosemeyer on an Auto Union. Then the race was no longer held and the Cup, which had to go to the driver who first won two races of the competition, was never awarded.
That Cup is now in Verona, at the Museo Nicolis. Luciano Nicolis took it to Italy and said: “I’m happy and proud to have succeeded. The enthusiasts know that the simbolic value of this Cup is priceless. As a collector, I’m also happy to have brought here a unique piece that had never left the United States and the Italian audience had never seen. If we consider the story of this Trophy, it’s as if I brought it back home…”
The Vanderbilt Cup story is charming too:
William Vanderbilt wanted to create a race similar to the French-american Gordon Bennet, where the competitors could win a trophy which was meant to add value to the family name. The first editions of the race took place in New York; then the race moved to California, until 1916, when the war put an end to it. The nephew, George Vanderbilt reintroduced it, probably for the same prestige reasons, in 1936, enticing the teams from the whole world with extremely high prize of 85.000$!
Many european car companies responded favorably to the offer, Alfa Romeo racing team too (at the time headed by Enzo Ferrari). Three 12C-36 single-seaters for the three pilots, Tazio Nuvolari, Nino Farina and Tonino Brivio, were sent to the US. The cars were loaded on the Rex ocean liner and this helped increasing the media impact as well. The 1936 edition had one and only protagonist: Tazio Nuvolari. The Italian racing driver beated not only the Americans, but every international driver, giving Italy an incredible resonance.
The photos show Nuvolari literally sat inside the big Cup, toasting with a big bottle of Magnum champagne.