“A sunday afternoon I’ll never forget…” by Massimo Burbi

Updated: December 8, 2012

I’d like to share a personal memory.

This is the Italian GP 1984 and was the first ever race I’ve seen live. I was 9 years old.

No grandstand, just a general admission ticket. We were sitting on the grass in the middle of the straight after the Variante Ascari.

You can imagine, we were flat to the track (Monza is not Imola, it has no hills) cars were passing by at 300+ Kph so we could barely see hem for few seconds each lap but it still was the best thing I’d ever seen and their power seemed to be shacking the whole Earth.

I loved it.

My father placed a Ferrari cap on my head but I couldn’t care less about the red cars, all I wanted to see was Tambay and Prost.

Alain unfortunately broke his engine in the early stages but Patrick was dominating the race and I was cheering at each lap. Lauda was there too, he was the one who could take the title away from Prost and the race away from Patrick, as he did earlier that year in Digione.

“But not today” my 9 years old logic were saying to me “today I am here and I deserve better”. But the Renault throttle pedal had a different opinion: less than 15 minutes away from the chequered flag Lauda surged ahead.

I was still coming in terms with the disappointment for a victory turned, again, into a second place when suddenly there was no Renault running anymore.

That couldn’t be true, I turned to my father sit next to me like “is there anything we can do?”, but there wasn’t.

The throttle cable broke, I discovered later, the number 15 Renault was standing still, abbandoned, on the pit straight, and Patrick already walked away from it. Such a bitter disappointment.

But still a great thrill and a sunday afternoon I’ll never forget.

Massimo Burbi


  1. Patrick Tambay

    December 8, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Thank you so much for this very sincere and touching story…
    I think you will get well deserved compliments for it and I want to be the 1st to do so….! ;-()
    If I had knowned than, that this throtlle cable had destroyed a 9 year old boy’s dream I would have been even more dissapointed…
    We must never forget that, yes we do it for ourselves, but we do it primarely for you, our fans, without you, all this does not make any senses…

  2. Dominique Alix Chesnais

    December 9, 2012 at 8:22 am

    super témoignage….Vibrant!

  3. Adriana Mascheroni Garzon

    December 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I was just a little bit older (13) at the time, and was enormously disappointed by it too!. After Dijon, where Lauda stole the win from Patrick, plus the accident in Monte Carlo, the season had been quite frustrating so far, and that win at Monza would have been great. A few weeks later, a sensational and well deserved second place at the then new short Nürburgring turned, again, into nothing because of another failure. Was it the engine? I think so. In any case, Tambay should have obtained many more points than just 11………

  4. Patrick Tambay

    December 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Dear Massimo, The Ascari Esses, I dont like the word “chicane”, are one of the most exciting on the Monza GP track, with the Parabolica of course….It’s the middle of the afternoon in ealy September and the sun is lower on the horizon, he is staring right at you, almost directly into your eyes…by that time your visor is covered with oil, dust, tires mark,..you name it…approaching (in 5th, 6th or 7th gear depending on the aera), the corners at 340/350 km/h…A MacLaren is in front and a Brahbam, just inches in your sleepstream behind you, a quick glance in your left mirror to judge his position,…than, and almost simultaneously, a quick instinctive check on your braking references along with a fast down shift…you must not miss your braking points and your speed of entry into this very quick left hander…avoid the curb, be on the throttle as soon and as efficiently as possible, look for a nice, precise change of direction for the right, left…and cary as much speed as possible on the exit, and this, to take you as fast as possible down the straight towards The “other” great Monza segment, The Parabolica….On the exit, another quick look at your rev counter and in your left mirror to check if you gained or lost some grounds, speed, register it in your memory… what went right or what went wrong, make a mental note to adjust, correct and register it in your mental parameters for the next lap…preparing at the same time…for the specific procedure and approach to the new corner coming up The Parabolica…and there again with different and personal technical “tricks”, introducing in the process, your tires management and degradation, your fuel load quantity, and your most direct competition…and as a reward, for this fast trip, The “Unique in The World” over hanging Monza podium… ;-)

  5. Massimo Burbi

    December 12, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Thanks to everybody and particularly to the “hero” of the story.
    Only someone who really did it can provide you with such a great first hand insight!

  6. Patrick Tambay

    December 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    AND ME NEITHER MASSIMO….whn I am looking back, it hurts even more…

    Want to watch the full race: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXTdCVX3OfY
    1984 Italian Grand Prix

    The 1984 Italian Grand Prix took place on September 9, 1984 at Monza.

  7. Massimo Burbi

    December 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Next one it’ll taste more sweet.
    I’ll send it in a minute! :)

  8. Pingback: MotorPosts Best of 2013 + First Year Celebration!! - MotorPosts

Leave a Reply

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>