The kiss of death: the legend of the Autòdrom Terramar

A place as full of history as the Terramar racetrack inevitably has its share of urban legends and amusing anecdotes. Thus since the mid-1920s, any self-respecting auto enthusiast checking out the track’s curves cannot help but think of the famous “bacio della morte”, or kiss of death.

According to legend, Tazio Nuvolari (Castel d’Ario, 1892 – Mantua, 1953), a famous Italian racecar and motorcycle driver who trained at Terramar, took a liking to a young “sitgetana” (some say it was the daughter of the owner of the former Hotel Terramar). He invited her to attend one of his training sessions at the circuit, driving a two-seater Chiribiri.

Seeing that his guest was getting bored, Nuvolari suggested that she hop in and do a few laps with him. After a few minutes, when the car was at the top of the north corner, Nuvolari suddenly decided to let go of the wheel and kiss his passenger! She returned home immediately, visibly shocked and accusing the famous driver of wanting to kill her. Despite being very frightened, however, the girl was not really in any danger from the Italian’s stunt. At high speeds in the curves of Terramar, it is indeed only centrifugal forces that control the vehicle, and therefore it is even somewhat risky at this time to steer too much.

Since then, many visitors to the Autòdrom have tried to reproduce the prank of the two-time winner of the Mille Miglia (a 1600 km race on the open road). However, the current state of the track makes the challenge even more difficult, and only a few seasoned professional drivers can risk it.