Pietro Bordino

22/11/1887 - 16/4/1928

Record updated 22-Nov-22

Pietro Bordino was an Italian racing driver, considered by many to be the best in the 1920s. He started racing in 1908 and was killed in practice for the Circuto di Alessandria in 1928.

Pietro Bordino
Pietro Bordino was born in Turin, Italy. Along with Felice Nazzaro and Antonio Ascari, they were the three greatest Italy racing drivers in the 1920s. His father worked at FIAT and the young Bordino was popular with the staff at the factory. He was small and light which did not excape the notice of Vincenzo Lancia, the works driver. Thus at the age of 15 he was racing with Lancia as his riding mechanic.

He eventually started driving and in 1908 made his debut at the Chateau-Thierry Hillclimb in France and in 1911 he drove the big 300 HP Fiat at Brooklands, taking the mile record.

In 1913 with Vincenzo Lancia now a manufacturer, Bordino drove one of his cars in the Targa Florio. Third after the first stage he made a mistage on the second and had to settle for 8th.

The war put an end to racing for a while but once peace returned, Bordino was quick to return to competition. Between 1919 and 1921 he raced motorcycles. Riding a 500cc Motosacoche and an 1100 cc Harley Davidson he won the Como-Brunate race, the Susa-Moncenisio and the Circuit of Orbassano.

Then in 1921 he was back racing with Fiat. He raced a Fiat 801 in the Targa Florio but had to retire. He then travelled to the USA and entered a 250 mile race in Los Angeles. He won and the enthusiastic Americans nicknamed him the 'red devil'. He stayed on in the 'States racing until returning to Italy in the September. He entered the Italian Grand Prix at Brescia and led until a puncture late in the race forced him to stop. He was passed by Goux in his Ballot. He took off in pursuit but an oil pipe on the Fiat's twin cam engine failed and he retired. He did however set the fastest lap at 96.3 MPH.

In July 1922 Bordino, together to Felice and Biagio Nazzaro took part in the French Grand Prix in Strasburg. Driving one of the three 6 cylinder Fiat 804s, he was running second but in his attempt to catch Felice he broke the back axle. He did once again set the fastest lap at 86.25 MPH. The axle was a wek point and tragically Biagio was killed in the race when his broke. Felice hung on for the win though his axle failed just after he crossed the line.

It was very much Bordino's style to drive to win which meant that he didn't always finish. The opening of the Monza Autodrome that year gave Bordino 2 great wins. The first a 373 mile Voiturette GP at 83.25 MPH and a week later the European GP at 89.90 MPH. He set the fastest lap in practice of 85.6 MPH in the Tours GP and turned in a time of 87.18 MPH on the first lap and was leading until his supercharger swallowed a stone.

He continued racing in Grand Prix in 1923 and 1924 competing with the best in the sport, winning some but often breaking down. In the 1924 Targa Florio he finished 4th but after fainting on the 4th lap he had to be replaced by Nazzaro.

He led the 1924 GP at Lyon until his brakes failed. He left the track narrowly missing a Red Cross station and fortunately without injuring any spectators. he went back to America in 1925 to take on the Indy 500 finishing a dissapointing 10th.

Racing less frequently, he was still a works Fiat driver. However they withdrew from racing and Bordino acquired a Bugatti T35. He had possibly his best race in the "Circuito del Pozzo" where he diced with Nuvolari. In the end victory went to Nuvolari. He also took 7th in the 3 litre class in the 1928 Mille Miglia.

For Pietro Bordino, 38 years of age and considered by many to be the best driver of the 20's, it would be his last Mille Miglia. He was killed in a crash during practice for the V Circuto di Alessandria on April 15 1928. He crashed trying to avoid a dog that ran in front of his Bugatti on the fast straight between San Michele and San Salvatore. Unforunately he hit it jamming the steering. The car left the road and ended upside down in a large culvert leading into Tanaro River. Bordino and his mechanic, Giovanni Lasagna, drowned.  Nuvolari won the race and dedicated his win to Bordino.