Don Alfonso Cabeza de Vaca y Leighton


Thursday 11th October 1928

Born on this day, Don Alfonso Cabeza de Vaca y Leighton, Carvajal y Are, the 17th Marquis de Portago and 13th Conde de la Mejorada. Better known as Marquis Alfonso de Portago, the Spanish nobleman became interested in motor racing as a young man, soon finding his way into some of the world’s most prestigious and dangerous racing events, owning more to his social standing than his racing skills. For a two-year period beginning in 1956, the reckless Marquis Alfonso drove for the Lancia Ferrari team, managing to rack up four points in five Grand Prix starts, but failing to win any race. In 1957, Alfonso brought tragedy to the classic Mille Miglia event, a 1,600-kilometer race from Brescia to Rome and back, when he lost control of his Ferrari and plunged into a crowd of spectators. Alfonso, his co-driver Ed Nelson, and 10 spectators died in the accident, bringing to an end the 30-year tradition of the Mille Miglia. Twenty years after the Marquis’ tragic run along the course, the event was revived, and to this day the Mille Miglia attracts thousands to the streets of Italy to watch a nostalgic run of classic racing cars.


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