Fon and the Miglia

21 April 2023

Alfonso Antonio Vicente Eduardo Angel Blas Francisco de Borja Cabeza de Vaca y Leighton, known as Alfonso de Portago, was the Marquis of Portago.

Marquis Alfonso Portago, better known simply as Fon, was a descendant of a Spanish family of ancient lineage. His father, António, was a Spanish nobleman, a famous actor and a sportsman who died when Fon was fourteen.

Fon was born in London and educated in France and the USA.

He was a brilliant all-round sportsman and gambler, known to play two roulette wheels at once.

He was known as Ferrari’s fastest playboy, both lifestyle and driving and was considered to be one of the 12 fastest drivers in the world.

When racing in the 1957 Mille Miglia (11-12 May), he stopped to kiss his girlfriend; he then ran back to his Ferrari and sped away.

Having covered 975 miles of the 1,000 miles and travelling at 150 mph with his navigator, Edmund Nelson, between Cerlongo and Guidizzolo, a tyre burst, and their Ferrari careered into the crowd killing ten people, five of whom were children.

Both Fon and Edmund died instantly.

The tyre manufacturer and Ferrari were subsequently sued.

Fon once commented, ‘I won’t die in an accident. I’ll die of old age or be executed in some gross miscarriage of justice.’

Other racing cognoscenti said that due to his driving style, he would be at most 30.

He was 28 when he died.

On May 14 1957, all car and motorcycle races on public roads were suspended in Italy, and the Mille Miglia was dead.