Jarno Trulli Looks Back on His Life in Motorsport
Jarno Trulli heads home to Italy for this weekend's race in Monza, but it is 600km south in Pescara where his roots lay, and where his passion for motorsport began.
Jarno was born in Pescara, a city of just over 100,000 people on Italy's eastern coast, in 1974 to a modest family. Now, 34 years later, he is a Grand Prix winner and Panasonic Toyota Racing driver, enjoying one of his best seasons in the sport.
He is famously passionate about the art of motorsport; rightly acclaimed as one of the fastest drivers of his generation. Considering the history of Pescara, it is no wonder the motorsport bug bit young Jarno.
The port city hosted one of the most famous races of the early 20th century on an epic 25.8km street track which became the longest track ever to hold a World Championship Grand Prix when 200,000 fans watched Stirling Moss win the 1957 Pescara Grand Prix.
Now there is almost no sign of this once-daunting circuit, aside from an impressive monument which overlooks the Pescara countryside, but the memories remain.
"The background of this region in motorsport is quite strong," says Jarno. "The old days, back in the 1950s, we had one of the most important racing events, the Coppa Acerbo. Enzo Ferrari, Luigi Villoresi, Juan Manuel Fangio and many others raced in Pescara."
Given that local heritage, it was not long before young Jarno was behind the wheel himself at the Noleggio kart track. His father Enzo takes up the story: "His first kart race was when he was eight, it was for the Gioco della Giovent (Youth Games) project. He started going fast from the very beginning despite the fact he was lacking in preparation and didn't know much about the kart."
Jarno's attention was immediately caught by the excitement of on-track competition and the search for a perfect lap time so he quickly brushed off thoughts of competing in other sports.
He explains: "Every time I came back after a week of doing basketball, football or some other sport I remember my family used to ask me if I preferred this new sport to karting. My answer has been the same for years! In the end I don't believe I chose to race a kart - I believe I was chosen because I was born with that passion."
Jarno travelled by van with his father Enzo and his mechanic Dino La Cioppa to kart tracks in faraway cities like Parma, Pomposa, or Jeselo, meaning a drive through the night to get back to Pescara. His father even took time off work to support Jarno's karting ambitions.
Jarno's qualities as a young karter are familiar to those who work with him today, as Dino explains: "His father and I were friends and Jarno began to drive karts at the track. He was passionate about it from the beginning and he was always trying to improve. He went to the limit of perfection for a boy of his age. He was only eight or nine years old but he was driving like a guy of 14 or 15. He was a clever driver, very rational."
From those early days of karting success in his homeland, Jarno took on the world and won the 1991 World Championship in Formula K, the 1994 Formula C title and finally the Formula Super A crown in 1995 before graduating to single-seaters.
The German Formula 3 crown followed and a long career in Formula 1 beckoned. This is naturally a source of great pride to those who helped him on the first steps to stardom, as his mother Franca says: "Above all it gives me a lot of satisfaction and emotion because he has managed to achieve his dream in life."
So what human qualities have helped him reach the pinnacle of his sport? Having guided him through karting and experienced every up and down in Formula 1, his father Enzo is best placed to judge.
"He is very determined and stubborn," he reveals. "He digs his heels in to be successful at all costs and when it comes to his physical training, he is obsessed about it. If he has to train two hours a day, he trains two hours a day. He doesn't let other things distract him; for him it is a duty and he does what he has to do."
With 194 Grand Prix starts, eight podium finishes and one win behind him, that hard work has certainly paid off and there are plenty of happy memories for Jarno to look back on.
"Well, certainly one was Monaco, when I won my first Grand Prix, but I must say that also the last podium with Toyota, earlier this year when I finished third in Magny-Cours, was a great moment for me and the team because it came after a couple of difficult seasons. The team has given me such great support so that was a fantastic feeling."
Since his Formula 1 debut in 1997, not only has the trophy cabinet expanded; so too has the Trulli family. Jarno married Barbara in 2004 and their first son Enzo followed in 2005, while two years later Marco was born.
Barbara says: "I am very proud of Jarno's work, his pride and lifestyle. On one side it is very tiring and he's always on the go however it gives him the chance to experience situations and emotions that he wouldn't otherwise be able to experience if he lived an easier life."
Enzo and Marco are too young to consider motorsport as a career option just yet, and proud father Jarno, who has vivid memories of the hard fight to prove his potential as a young racer, would prefer they never did.
"I just hope that they will be fighting in another sport, like tennis, golf or basketball," he says. "I don't want to go back to karting because for me it would be like starting from the beginning again. It was really hard to get to Formula 1; there is a lot of sacrifice. Also, they would live in their father's shadow, which I don't think is nice for children."
Despite having a young family, and a flourishing wine business, Jarno's focus has remained completely on Formula 1, as he has proved in 2008 with 26 points finishes and one podium moving him to seventh in the World Championship on the eve of his home race.
To others, this dedication might seem unusual but for Jarno it is completely natural; simply a result of his genuine passion for motorsport. "My secret is that I have still have some targets to achieve and I don't want to give up on my targets," he says. "The passion for driving, the emotions I get and the challenge of Formula 1 - I don't want anyone to take this away from me. I'm still extremely focused and committed to what I'm doing."
No-one at Panasonic Toyota Racing has any doubt about that, and Jarno will aim to prove it once again on home ground in this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, just a few hours' drive from where his motorsport story began. See Video Feature on our Home Page