One of the most important Alfa Romeo racing cars ever
The Tipo 33 TT 12 made its competition debut in the 1973 season battling with the Ferrari 312P, with Alfa Romeo using the second half of the season to fine tune and develop the car ahead of the 1974 season. Tasked with building and running these cars in period was Autodelta Spa, Alfa Romeo’s official racing department, which was run by motor racing legend and chief engineer Carlo Chiti.
In period, these Tipo 33 TT 12 cars were juggernauts! Once fine-tuned they were unstoppable, winning no less than seven of the nine rounds of the 1975 World Sports Car Championship, and when you consider that points towards the World Championship for Makes were only awarded to a team’s best seven results, Alfa Romeo took a clean sweep! But, the World Sports Car Championship was not enough, and the team wanted more success, which came in the form of outright victory at the the famed Targa Florio.
The car featured here, chassis AR11512 008, made its competition debut at the Monza 1000 KM in 1974. The legendary Arturo Merzario was elected to drive, being partnered with Italian-born American Mario Andretti. During this same season, Merzario was also competing in Formula One with the Williams Grand Prix Team, although sports car racing was where he would experience his greatest success. Mario Andretti, future Formula One World Champion, was busy making waves in sportscar racing, driving NASCAR, competing in the USAC Championship and at the Indianapolis 500.
Merzario and Andretti qualified this Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12 on pole position for round one of the 1974 World Championship. Race day saw Merzario, Andretti and Autodelta continue their dominant debut with a race victory — four laps ahead of the sister TT 12 piloted by Jacky Ickx and Rolf Stommelen, with the third TT 12 crossing the line in 3rd place. Italy went crazy for the Italian driver winning at an Italian circuit in a red Italian car, which incidentally even had a red steering wheel.
As the 1974 World Sportscar Championship continued, Merzario shared driving duties of 008 with other legends, including Jacky Ickx, Vittorio Brambilla and Brian Redman. Chassis 008 continued to compete for the Alfa Romeo Works team at the Nürburgring 1000 KM, Imola 1000 KM, Zeltweg 1000 KM, Watkins Glen 1000 KM and the Watkins Glen Can-Am race.
For 1975, Alfa Romeo contracted the Willi Kauhsen Racing Team (W.K.R.T) to run the factory-supported race team. Throughout 1975, chassis 008 continuously impressed, with its results ensuring Alfa Romeo won the 1975 World Championship for Makes. This chassis alone won four of the nine Championship races, whilst also claiming one further important victory, the 1975 Targa Florio. As per the 1974 season, chassis 008 was always assigned to Arturo Merzario, with the co-driver rotating between Jacky Ickx, Jochen Mass, Jacques Laffite, Nino Vaccarella and Vittorio Brambilla.
Alfa Romeo chose not to compete at the opening round of the Championship, the Daytona 24 Hours, instead sending chassis 008 to the second round at Mugello, Italy. Partnering Merzario was sportscar racing legend Jacky Ickx, with the pair qualifying on pole position with race number 1. After 150 laps of the Autodromo del Mugello circuit, Merzario and Ickx crossed the line in 2nd.
Round three of the 1975 Championship was the 1000 KM of Dijon, France. The car, again driven by Merzario, but this time he was partnered with Frenchman Jacques Laffite. Yet another strong qualifying saw the pair line up 3rd on the grid, but in the race, overall victory was theirs. The next race saw the same driver line up take 008 back to Monza, the home of its debut event and race victory in 1974. Starting 2nd on the grid was promising and the pair delivered, crossing the line in 1st place, taking back-to-back Monza 1000 KM victories and 008’s second consecutive victory of the 1975 Championship.
Ickx once again partnered with Merzario for the Spa-Francorchamps 1000 KM. The sister Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12, driven by Henri Pescarolo and Derek Bell, stole pole position, with the drivers maintaining position throughout the race, seeing chassis 008 cross the line in 2nd place, continuing its 100% podium finish record for the 1975 season.
The Coppa Florio, held at the Autodromo di Pergusa, Enna, Italy, was round six of the 1975 Championship, and saw Jochen Mass join Merzario. Again, Alfa Romeo dominated, with 008 claiming pole position, and chassis 010 lined up 2nd. Once again, 008 held position in the race, crossing the line to take its third race victory from five events.
June 1975 saw the travelling circus of the World Sportscar Championship arrive at the fearsome Nürburgring in Germany for round seven, the International ADAC 1000 KM. Merzario was joined by Jacques Laffite and claimed pole position around the fearsome 22-kilometre circuit. The race started at 10:30 on 1 June, with 60,000 spectators and 59 starters. Forty-four laps and 5 hours 41 minutes later, this Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12 crossed the line to take victory at the 1975 Nürburgring 1000 KM.
The season continued, and four weeks later, the 1000 KM Zeltweg was held at the Österreichring in Austria, for round eight. Vittorio Brambilla, March Formula One driver, partnered with Merzario, and the pair qualified in 2nd place. After 103 laps, Merzario and Brambilla finished the race in 2nd place, following the sister TT 12 of Derek Bell and Henri Pescarolo. Another dominant display by the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12s.
The 1975 FIA World Sportscar Championship finished in the United States at the Watkins Glen circuit with a six-hour endurance race. Although there was no official drivers’ champion for the 1975 season (this was a Manufacturers’ Championship), Merzario would have been crowned champion, having dominated the season. For this final round in the USA, Merzario was joined once again by Mario Andretti, with the pair qualifying 4th on the grid. It was yet another hugely dominant display from the Alfa Romeos, with the marque taking both 1st and 2nd! After 152 laps and over six hours of competition, Merzario and Andretti crossed the line 2nd, less than 20 seconds behind the sister car of Bell and Pescarolo, but over three laps clear of the 3rd-place finisher, the Renault-Alpine of Larrousse and Jarier.
The 1975 FIA World Sportscar Championship was dominated by Alfa Romeo, who claimed victory in seven of the nine rounds. This car, chassis 008, claimed four victories and four 2nd places, making it the undoubted star of the 1975 Alfa Romeo squad, with a 100% finishing record and placing never lower than 2nd overall.
Although the 1975 World Championship had been won, chassis 008 had not finished competing. There was one event left, the 1975 Targa Florio, held over eight laps of the 72-kilometre Piccolo Circuito della Madonie in Italy. Here, Merzario shared driving duties with fellow Italian Nino Vaccarella, with the pair claiming pole position and setting a time of 36 minutes 7 seconds — a colossal 52 seconds faster than the 2nd-place car.
Unlike any other event in the 1970s, the Targa Florio was an open road endurance race, held on closed public roads around the mountains of Sicily, near the island’s capital of Palermo. This was the ultimate open road endurance race of the era, with both drivers, Merzario and Vaccarella, previous winners..
Chassis 008, driven by Arturo Merzario and Nino Vaccarella, dominated, claiming pole position, the fastest lap and outright race victory.
This incredible 1974 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12 is available from Girardo & Co. Click on the link below for more information, including a detailed history of the car. Photos: © Girardo & Co. and Tim Scott / Fluid Images.