Alfa Romeo’s test circuit Balocco has turned 50
Balocco, the test ground which is considered as holy ground by all Alfists, has turned 50 years old. ‘La pista sperimentale di Balocco’ was completed in 1962 and it was absolutely unique in the world. The car manufacturer from Milan decided to build a top notch development center in the middle of the ‘hostile’ Piedmontese region, about 60 kilometers from Alfa’s basis (halfway Milan – Turin). It was put to use from 1964 forth. The big complex (190 ha), near the identically named village with a medieval castle, is nowadays in possession of the Agnelli family and is being used by Fiat Group Automobiles.
That this center used to be one of the most advanced in the world had everything to do with the ambition of the car builder from Arese of becoming one of the biggest car manufacturers worldwide. Next to testing and developing new production models, it was also the basis of Autodelta, which worked on new race cars at this perfect location. That’s why the circuit-section contains corners which were copied from existing racetracks, such as the Curva Grande (nowadays Curva Biassono) and Prima Curva di Lesmo of Monza, the Tarzan of Zandvoort and Fino Mornasco. The circuit is made out of perfectly flat asphalt, more than 80 kilometers of it. The Giulia was the first model to be invented and tested here, later on lots of Alfas followed in its footsteps. Balocco is the place where all the magic happens, where Alfa Romeo got its driving dynamics it is well-known for.
In 1987, Fiat took over Alfa Romeo and thus also the circuit, which it expanded. Fiat replaced its testing center in Nardò by the one in Balocco. Approximately 350ha were added to the old basis. The circuit and the surrounding terrain were thoroughly changed with the addition of a fast race track with two long straight lines of 1.000 meters and wide corners. On top of that, uneven and sloping bits, called ‘Langhe’ and ‘Sterrato’, were added (for the testing of durability, comfort and off-road possibilities). Fiat also added testing sections for trucks and even heavier vehicles and made the circuit suited for the testing of F1 cars (2008).