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Just fifty days after the Grand Prix des Nations held of Sunday, 20 May 1973, one of the darkest days ever to motorcycle racing, when Jarno Saarinen and Renzo Pasolini were killed, another multiple accident at the Curva Grande in Monza would once again claim lives. Renato Galtrucco, Carlo Chionio and Renzo Colombini, three Italian riders taking part in a race valid for the Campionato Italiano Juniores 500 cm3, would be killed in an accident as tragic as unthinkable, as if what happened in May had never occurred.
What really happened is pretty controversial. There were no witnesses, the precise circumstances of the accident are still unclear. It took place merely one hundred and fifty meters further from the spot where Pasolini, Saarinen, Hideo Kanaya, Victor Palomo, Borje Jansson and several others had crashed on the first lap of the 1973 Grand Prix des Nations.
It was Sunday, 08 July 1973, and the clock marked 09h30 sharp when the riders completed the third lap and dove in a compact pack towards the extremely fast and dangerous Curva Grande, at the end of the main straight of Monza. Roberto Faccini on a Suzuki was in the lead, followed by Bruno Nonnoi's Yamaha, the pair had opened a small advantage over the rest of the field. At that time the guard-rails were located very close to the edge of the track, covered by a single - and loosely installed - layer of hay bales. The trees were nearer to the asphalt, giving the riders the impression they were traveling at absurd speeds inside a narrow, funneling tunnel. It was as if they were being swallowed by a giant green snake.
It all started towards the end of the turn when Renzo Colombini’s Suzuki, then in twelfth place, wobbled violently and hit the hay bales at high speed. Colombini was thrown off the saddle and went to lay under the barriers whilst his motorcycle continued to slide for a long distance. Vittorio Altrocchio on an Aermacchi, who was a few centimeters behind Colombini, had to make a desperate move to avoid running over the Suzuki rider and, as him, hit the bales flat out; Altrocchio’s body flew on a frightening manner, going higher and beyond the catch fences, landing in between the trees.
A fraction of a second later other riders reach that spot, all traveling at maximum speed - amongst them Gaudenzio Protto on a Kawasaki, Renato Galtrucco on a Suzuki 380, Giuliano Barzanti on a Suzuki 500 and Carlo Chionio on a Honda. Protto and Galtrucco fell down; Chionio, just behind them and with nowhere to go, hit Galtrucco, throwing him a long distance away.
Colombini was killed upon his terrible impact against the hay bales and the guard-rail; Galtrucco was still breathing when rescuers reached him on the tarmac but died whilst he was being taken to San Gerardo hospital in Monza. Chionio seemed to be in better condition; however, he suffered a sudden cardio-circulatory collapse and died one-and-a-half hour after being transferred to the same hospital. Amongst the injured riders were Vittorio Altrocchio who sustained facial wounds, and Gaudenzio Protto.
This was a black Sunday of racing. On that same 08 July 1973 another tragedy took place at at Casale Monferrato, during a Swiss Motorcycle Championship race, when Franz Hullinger crashed and was killed.
Seen here are: Galtrucco (#6), Chionio (#4), then Colombini.
Italian Junior Racers Championship
Monza Grand Prix
Motosprint; La Stampa; Corriere della Serra
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