Achille Varzi was a great driver.

He was leading the1930 Mille Miglia, a hard and dangerous thousand-mile race round Italy.

It was night time and very near the finish.

Varzi had already blown off all his competition.

Campari, Caracciola, Arcangeli, Ghersi, Nuvolari.

His car was at least as powerful as any of theirs so he wasn’t worried about them catching him as long as he kept his foot to the floor.

He just had a few miles to go to the finish.

A quick check in the rear view mirror, and no one anywhere behind.

Varzi realised he could relax a bit.

So he eased up a little on the accelerator.

As he did so another car howled out of the pitch-blackness behind him, switched on its lights and blew past him.

Tazio Nuvolari had been sitting behind Varzi, tailing him in the dark with his headlights off.

Racing flat out, with nothing to guide him but Varzi’s rear lights.

Waiting for him to get complacent and ease off the throttle.

Nuvolari had to depend on Varzi making a mistake.

So he helped him make a mistake.

He made him believe he was alone, no one else anywhere in sight.

And when Varzi fell for it, right at the finish, Nuvolari slingshotted him and won the Mille Miglia.

The sort of move you’d only see in a Hollywood film.

The sort of move that caused Ferdinand Porsche to label Nuvolari “the greatest driver of the past, the present, and the future”.

Something no one else would even think of.

Guts coupled with creativity.

That sort of move typified Nuvolari.

Five years earlier he’d been racing motorbikes.

He had a really bad crash and was in hospital wrapped head to toe in bandages.

Despite this Nuvolari was determined to race in the Monza Grand Prix.

But when he stood he couldn’t even bend, much less ride a motorbike.

So he explained to the doctor exactly what he wanted.

And the doctor took all the bandages off.

Then Nuvolari sat in the riding position he’d use on the motorbike.

And the doctor rewrapped all the bandages so he’d be fixed in that position.

Nuvolari was delivered to the track and put on the bike.

His opponents laughed and called him ‘The Mummy’.

But they didn’t laugh when The Mummy won the 1925 Monza Grand Prix: 200 tough, dangerous miles at 80 mph.

Guts coupled with creativity.

Nuvolari said he learned his approach to life from his father.

When Nuvolari was five a horse kicked him.

His father took a silver coin and threw it between the horse’s legs.

He said “You can have it, if you can get it”.

Nuvolari didn’t want to be kicked, but he wanted the coin.

He took a chance, grabbed it, and the horse didn’t kick him.

And Nuvolari learned not to be afraid of fear.

Not to let fear stop him having what he wanted.

Nuvolari learned to think his way around fear.

Because being creative means doing something no one else would even think of doing.


So it always involves fear.