Cesare Martinengo, gentleman racer

Discussion in 'Ferrari Discussion (not model specific)' started by marksgtv, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. marksgtv

    marksgtv Karting
    Silver Subscribed

    May 29, 2009
    New Jersey
    Full Name:
    Mark Morrissey
    I’m terribly sad and heartbroken to relay the news that my great friend Cesare Martinengo passed away June 20. His son let me know.

    I was introduced to Cesare by Scottish journalist Graham Gauld while working on my first MOMO story which published in Excellence Magazine in 2012. From Graham: "The Martinengo Cesaresco family in Milan goes back more than five centuries. Cesare’s sister still lives in one of the grand family homes outside Milan".

    Cesare was best friends with MOMO founder Gianpiero Mortetti and worked for him starting in 1978. Cesare told me he used to walk through the F1 pits with a bag of steering wheels for the drivers. I had gone to great lengths to get an interview with Moretti and was told he needed to cancel the week we were to speak. I learned months later ... after he died, that he couldn't speak with me because he was sick from the cancer that would eventually take his life. I was of course devastated.

    But there was a silver lining to the tragedy. I would discover the wonderful story about Cesare's father Franco and Cesare written by Gauld that was posted online at Veloce Today. I was able to contact Mr. Gauld and he put me in touch with Cesare. We became friends from the first moments we spoke. It was a friendship that grew as we became more familiar with each other.

    Cesare and Gianpiero were together when Moretti got the idea that would change the how Formula 1 drivers — and all of motorsports — controlled their cars. Cesare was only 18 when they met at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Only two years later Moretti told Cesare he didn’t like the steering wheel in his Fiat, and recalled: “We bought a piece of aluminum and took it to Giorgio Pianta’s garage on the via Matilda Serano in Milan. Gianpiero showed the mechanics a drawing he had made of the type of steering wheel he wanted, and they cut out the shape which included some holes on the spoke to make it lighter. We then went to a carpenter in Galerie Lombardia and asked him to make a wooden rim for it which was 35 cm wide rather than 38 or 39cm. But the wood was too slippery and so he had a leather cover stitched on to the wood rim. We all thought his steering wheel was a great idea and so he made me a replica for my go-kart and then one for Mario Aquati. Mario later became a Momo dealer”.

    The turning point for Moretti was 1964 when John Surtees won the Championship in the Ferrari 158 with Moretti's wheel. After that, nearly all the drivers wanted one.

    Cesare could capture a great photograph and was an extra in the film Grand Prix with James Garner in the Monza scenes. He worked for an Italian Fashion magazine as a photographer but always had motorsports on his mind. He had period photos of automotive journalist Karl Ludvigsen and Martin Siskind, founders of Formula 1 Enterprises that I used for my Forza Magazine story. And he shared with me many great, intimate photos of him, Moretti and other MOMO employees from their world travels.

    His father Franco was a founding member of the racing team Scuderia Sant Ambroeus along with his friend Elio Zagato and several others including one-time Ferrari racing chief Eugenio Dragoni. Cesare was the caretaker of his father’s huge archive of incredible photos.

    He was friends with Dragoni and many of the Ferrari drivers but especially Lorenzo Bandini. “I was gutted when he was killed in Monaco,” he told me. He went on many, racing excursions with the Ferrari team in the mid 1960s, Canada, Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glenn... taking photos and providing general support.

    He was a behind-the-scenes guy and didn't attract attention but his impact was meaningful. He was a wonderful friend who would do anything for you. Cesare and I would video chat Sunday mornings. We'd argue about Formula 1 and I'd tell him about my ideas. Once in a while he'd disapprove and would have no issue in telling me: "Mark. That's a bad idea. Don't do it". And, I'd do it anyway because I'm as stubborn as he was. But he had traits I'll never have — amazing, inspiring style, elegance, great generosity and true humility.

    I loved him like a big brother. I’ll miss him so much.
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  3. crinoid

    crinoid F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Apr 2, 2005
    Full Name:
    Sorry for your loss. Sounds like a great guy.

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