Attilio Bettega: the legend of italian rally

bettega bernacchini, giro d'italia 1980

His story begins in 1972 when Bettega embarked on his rally journey behind the wheel of a modest Fiat 128 Rally owned by his family. From that moment onward, his fate was sealed, and the steering wheel became his canvas, where he painted the thrilling curves of winding roads that would define his career.

Attilio Bettega, born on February 19, 1953, in Molveno, is not just a name in the world of rallying but a legend who has left an indelible mark on the history of Italian motorsport. His career, though tragic in its conclusion, stands as a testament to the courage, passion, and determination that characterize true champions.

His story begins in 1972 when Bettega embarked on his rally journey behind the wheel of a modest Fiat 128 Rally owned by his family. From that moment onward, his fate was sealed, and the steering wheel became his canvas, where he painted the thrilling curves of winding roads that would define his career.

Driving with skill and talent, Bettega maneuvered through a series of vehicles, including the Fiat 128 Coupe, the Opel Ascona A, and the Opel Kadett GT/E, demonstrating a versatility and determination that soon captured the attention of industry professionals.

The turning point came in 1977 when he won the Trofeo A112, showcasing his prowess behind the wheel of a Lancia Stratos, which propelled him to compete nationally and internationally. His signature became synonymous with success, and his participation in the Fiat team solidified him as one of the finest drivers of his generation.

Bettega’s moments of glory peaked in the 1984 Rally d’Italia, where he secured a prestigious second place, showcasing to the world his skill and determination. However, fate had a tragic epilogue in store for this living rally legend.

On May 2, 1985, during the Tour de Corse, the nightmare became a reality. In the fourth special stage, while driving his Lancia Rally 037, Bettega lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. The accident, which saw his car split in two, was fatal for the Italian driver, who lost his life instantly. His navigator, Maurizio Perissinot, miraculously emerged unscathed.

Bettega’s accident not only ended the life of a great driver but also raised serious concerns about the safety of Group B cars. Exactly one year later, during the same rally, Bettega’s teammate, Henri Toivonen, met the same fate, leading to the end of Group B in motorsport.

Despite the tragedy, Attilio Bettega’s legacy lives on through his dedication, passion, and indomitable spirit. Every year, the Attilio Bettega Memorial honors his memory at the Bologna Motor Show, celebrating his life and contribution to the world of rallying.

But Bettega’s legacy extends beyond the tracks. His son, Alessandro, has followed in his footsteps, becoming a rally driver himself, carrying forward his father’s name and spirit in competitions around the world.

Attilio Bettega will forever remain an icon of Italian rallying, an extraordinary driver who touched the stars, leaving behind a trail of passion, courage, and determination that will continue to inspire generations of drivers and motorsport enthusiasts worldwide.