Vincenzo Lancia himself

Vincenzo Lancia (1881-1937) was regarded as probably the fastest driver of the period, driving for Fiat before and shortly after becoming a car manufacturer himself. 

At only 19 years old he was appointed as Chief Inspector and test driver at Fiat.   He soon won respect for his ability to judge car performance and early Fiats owe much to his input.     His driving ability and mature manner led Fiat to ask him to drive their cars in races.

In only Fiats second race, April 1900, Vincenzo Lancia scored a class win at the Turin-Asti race driving a Fiat 6HP Corsa, which was a sporting version of the normal Fiat 6HP.

In 1902 Fiat decided that their racing cars should be more potent than the road cars, and this lead to the 24Hp Corsa, which had a 6.3 litre engine and was capable of 59mph in standard configuaration, which in turn lead to the Fiat 75hp which had a huge 14 litre, 4 cylinder engine and was capable of sustaining a 71mph average speed over a 230 mile road race, which Lancia won (1904 Coppa Florio)

The Fiat 110hp Corsa had an even bigger engine - 16.2 litres and these were racing against cars from Mercedes, Napier, De Dietrich and other well known names, and the Fiat 130Hp Corsa was bigger still - capable of over 100mph.

Lancia had more than his fair share of bad luck, and often failed to finish races.   Some times he was too hard on the car, others were purely down to unavoidable circumstances - holed radiator, fuel leak etc.,

In 1906 Lancia became a car manufacturer and history was made in 1908 when he drove one of his own cars to class victory at the Padua 20km sprint.   Lancias final race was in 1910 at the Modena speed trials, where he was driving a 20hp Gamma.

After retiring from competition himself, Lancia cars were used in competition in the hands of privateer races with success.    

Bibliography:  
La Lancia 2nd Edition, Wim Oude Weernink

2001: Andrew Cliffe www.lanciaracing.co.uk