Showing posts with label Lavazza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lavazza. Show all posts

26 March 2018

Lella Lombardi - racing driver

Only woman to win points in Formula One


Lella Lombardi is one of only two women to start a world championship race in the history of F1
Lella Lombardi is one of only two women to start
a world championship race in the history of F1
Maria Grazia “Lella” Lombardi, the only female driver to finish in a points position in a Formula One world championship motor race, was born on this day in 1941 in Frugarolo, near Alessandria in Piedmont.

She finished out of the points in 11 of the 12 world championship rounds which she started between 1974 and 1976 but finished sixth in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, a race marred by the tragic deaths of five spectators after the car being driven by the German driver Rolf Stommelen went out of control and somersaulted over a barrier into the crowd.

His was the eighth car to crash in the first 25 of the 75 laps and the race was halted four laps later when it became known there had been fatalities. At that moment, Lombardi’s March-Ford was in sixth position, albeit two laps between race leader Jochen Mass.

The points were awarded on the basis of positions when the race was stopped. In normal circumstances, a sixth-place finish would have been worth one point but because less than three-quarters of the race had been completed the points were halved, thus Lombardi was awarded half a point.

Her next best performance was to finish seventh in the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring later in the same season.

Lella Lombardi at the wheel of the March 751 in which she finished sixth at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix
Lella Lombardi at the wheel of the March 751 in which she
finished sixth at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix
Lombardi was one of only two women to qualify for Formula One races in the history of the sport, the other being her fellow Italian, Maria Teresa de Filippis, who participated in the late 1950s.

Little detail is known about the origins of Lombardi’s fascination with cars and speed, although it is thought she learned to drive in order to help her father, a butcher, with deliveries. The family did not own a car.

A friend is said to have introduced her to racing, inviting her to be co-driver in rally events. She drove Alfa Romeo and BMW sports cars in club events and graduated to Formula Monza when she raised enough money to buy her own car, which she maintained herself.

Over the next decade, she raced in Formula Monza, Formula 3, Formula 850 and Formula 5000, winning the Formula Monza title in 1970, having been runner-up in the Formula 3 championship in 1968 behind her compatriot, Franco Bernabei.

She entered an F1 race - the British Grand Prix - for the first time in 1974 in an ageing Brabham but failed to qualify. That winter, however, she met Italian nobleman Count Vittorio Zanon, a well known motor racing enthusiast, and he paid for her to race in the 1975 season in a March 741 previously driven by the Italian driver Vittorio Brambilla.

Lombardi at the wheel
Lombardi at the wheel
At the opening race of the season, in South Africa, she became the first woman to qualify for a Grand Prix since De Filippis 17 years earlier. At the next race she had a new 751 with sponsorship from the Lavazza coffee company, with which Count Zanon's wife was associated. This was the car she races in Spain.

Although she was a standard bearer for women behind the wheel, Lombardi never had the car to be really competitive in F1 and decided at the end of the 1976 season to refocus on the sports car classes in which she had enjoyed success previously.

Her best season was in 1979 when she won the Six Hours of Pergusa and the Six Hours of Vallelunga. She also competed four times at the 24 hours of Le Mans, for which her co-driver in 1980 was Mark Thatcher, son of the British prime minister Margaret.

Lombardi continued to compete until the late 1980s, when she began to struggle with her health.  She gave up driving and formed Lombardi Autosport, a touring car team running Alfas, but it was not long afterwards that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, from which she died in 1992 at the age of only 50.

The church of San Felice in Frugarolo
The church of San Felice in Frugarolo
Travel tip:

Lombardi’s home village of Frugarolo, which has a population of just under 2,000, is little more than 10km (6 miles) southeast of Alessandria, in the direction of Genoa.  It has a Romanesque church, the parish church of San Felice, which has an incongruously new bell tower because the original collapsed.

Hotels in Alessandria by Booking.com

Travel tip:

The historic city of Alessandria became part of French territory after the army of Napoleon defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo in 1800.  It was ruled by the Kingdom of Sardinia for many years and is notable for the Cittadella di Alessandria, a star-shaped fort and citadel built in the 18th century, which today it is one of the best preserved fortifications of that era.

24 April 2017

Luigi Lavazza - coffee maker

From a grocery store in Turin to Italy's market leader


Luigi Lavazza - former peasant farmer and humble shop worker who built a dynasty
Luigi Lavazza - former peasant farmer and
humble shop worker who built a dynasty
Luigi Lavazza, the Turin grocer who founded the Lavazza Coffee Company, was born on this day in 1859 in the small town of Murisengo in Piedmont. 

He had lived as a peasant farmer in Murisengo but times were hard and after a couple of poor harvests he decided to abandon the countryside and head for the city, moving to Turin and finding work as a shop assistant.

The Lavazza brand began when Luigi had saved enough money to by his own shop in Via San Tommaso, in the centre of Turin, in 1895.  He sold groceries and provisions and where other stores simply sold coffee beans, he had a workshop in the rear of the store where he experimented by grinding the beans and mixing them into different blends according to the tastes of his customers.

He travelled to Brazil to improve his knowledge of coffee and his blends became an important part of the business, after which he moved into wholesale as well as retail as a coffee merchant.  When the first automatic roasting machines went into production in the 1920s, he was one of the first in Italy to buy one.

The economic climate in Italy improved after the First World War, Turin in particular enjoying prosperity after Fiat opened its factory in Lingotto.

Luigi Lavazza's original Turin grocery shop
Luigi Lavazza's original Turin grocery shop
Luigi Lavazza S.p.A. was formed in 1927, with its headquarters in Corso Giulio Cesare, to the north of the city. Luigi, his wife Emilia, and children Mario, Pericle and Giuseppe set up the company, with share capital of 1,500,000 lire. They bought a fleet of vans and trucks and began to sell all groceries all over Turin province.

The coffee side of the company’s business stalled in the 1930s after the League of Nations imposed economic sanctions against Italy, a consequence of the Mussolini regime’s aggression towards Abyssinia.  Coffee beans was one of the commodities that could not be exported to Italy.

Production did not resume in earnest until after the Second World War, when the company was effectively relaunched as a coffee specialist.  Luigi has retired in 1936 but in the hands of his sons the business boomed. They commissioned the design of branded Lavazza packaging, introducing the distinctive logo with the large middle ‘A’. As well as paper packaging, the company introduced vacuum packed tins to preserve their product's freshness.

Lavazza's familiar silver and  red packaging
Lavazza's familiar silver and
red packaging
In 1950, the first Lavazza television commercial was aired with the slogan “Lavazza – paradiso in tazza” – “Lavazza – heaven in a cup”.

Luigi Lavazza died in 1949 at the age of 90 and did not witness the huge expansion that took place in the 1950s and 1960s. The company’s new headquarters in Corso Novara - on the north-western outskirts of the city began to produce 40,000kg of coffee per day, outstripping other Italian coffee producers, and in 1965 Lavazza opened Europe’s largest roasting plant in Settimo Torinese, from which the company’s QualitĂ  Rossa blend was introduced in 1971.

Today, run by the fourth generation of the Lavazza family, the company is the seventh largest coffee roaster in the world and the retail market leader in Italy with more than 47 per cent of sales, employing 2700 staff in six production sites, four in Italy and two abroad, and sells coffee in more than 90 countries.

Travel tip:

Luigi Lavazza’s original store in Via San Tommaso is now a coffee shop and restaurant, aptly called San Tommaso 10 Lavazza. The cafĂ©’s coffee corner is the place in which to taste the company’s major blends, while the restaurant at the rear, offering modern Italian dishes, almost doubles as a museum, with displays of photographs tracing the history of the company. Via San Tommaso is in the heart of Turin’s commercial centre, a short walk from the elegant grandeur of Piazza Castello.



Murisengo is in the hills to the east of Turin
Murisengo is in the hills to the east of Turin
Travel tip:

Murisengo, where Luigi Lavazza was born and grew up in the farming community, has a population of under 1,500 today but used to be much larger and was a thriving spa town in the 1700s, when visitors came to take the sulphurous waters from the Fontana Pirenta, which supposedly could cure gastric disorders and treat skin conditions.  The village, in the hills to the east of Turin at 338m (1,100ft) above sea level, also has the remains of a castle that originated in the early 13th century.


More reading:


Michele Ferrero - the man who invented Nutella

How fruit farmer Karl Zuegg made a fortune from jam

Francesco Cirio - market trader who pioneered food canning

Also on this day:


1966: The birth of AC Milan footballer Alessandro Costacurta