De Portago’s Life in Racing

Seeing this color photo of Alfonso de Portago (among the last captured before his fatal crash) on Automobiliac last summer, I was inclined to agree with Bradley that there’s something haunting about it; an eeriness about how calm the moment seems, but with the dangerous proximity of the walls and the spectators and the nearby buildings hinting at what might happen when his tire catastrophically deflates moments later. Juxtaposed with this much earlier photo of young de Portago sitting pensively in his kiddie kart—before his legend as a racing driver and playboy would take hold—these bookends of de Portago’s life in motoring somehow makes the tragedy of his demise more palatable. Sure, it’s easy from my comfortable vantage point to romanticize the danger of the era and glorify those who died “doing what they loved”, but these photos of de Portago show that there might just be some truth to it.

3 responses to “De Portago’s Life in Racing”

  1. Mike Jacobsen says:

    Great pix–I’ve never seen the “kiddie car” one before, but it looks to me as though it might be a real car, based on some little FIAT or Austin, with 12″ wheels with good tires, brakes and a working radiator? The Mille Miglia shot is from the Raticosa or Futa pass; the Marquis’ wreck was on one of the long flat tree-lined sections heading back to Brescia.

  2. […] strange to me that when I look at these photos, I don’t feel the same way I did about a similar juxtaposition of photos from de Portago’s career. Looking at the de Portago photos, I felt a certain, well not joy […]

  3. Eardley Ham says:

    It is hard to reconcile the dangers of automotive competition with the need to win. Having campaigned a Formula Ford in SCCA events, I can understand de Portago’s love of the sport.

    Robert Daley’s “The Cruel Sport (1963)” offers a rare insight to the dangers of the sport and along the way provides a candid look at de Portago. When asked what his female admirers thought of the danger he faced while racing, he responded “I do not ask. After all I am Spanish.”

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