Nino was a nephew of Pinin Farina, who founded the coachbuilding firm Pininfarina and his father Giovanni had established Stabilimente Farina, a bodywork shop. So naturally Nino was also expected to join the family business at older age. However, after his first driving experience at the age of nine, it was clear that instead of engineering, Nino wanted to race.
Nino Farina started his motor racing career in the early 1930’s in hillclimbs. In his first race he crashed and was hospitalized. After that he raced Maseratis for couple of years in circuit racing. He crashed frequently, but also showed enough talent to get noticed. He was then signed to Alfa Romeo team as number two driver to Tazio Nuvolari. Under Tazio’s guidence, he began to mature as a driver and started to win races securing himself the Italian Drivers’ Champion three years in a row 1937–39. Sadly for Farina, he was just reaching his peak as a driver at the outbreak of World War II which ended racing for many years.
In 1950 he was appointed to the three-car Alfa Romeo team that competed in the series of Grand Prix races that were now formally organized by the FIA into the first ever Formula One World Championship. In the dominant Alfa Romeo team, driving with the invincible 158 Alfetta cars, Nino Farina’s team mates were Juan Manuel Fangio and Luigi Fagioli. Farina won the first ever Formula One championship race, the 1950 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and triumphed again in Switzerland and Italy. Nino Farina won that first ever World Championship title in 1950, which was the pinnacle of his career.
Next year in 1951 Nino Farina could not match the pace of his team-mate Juan Manuel Fangio and ended up fourth overall, having won only the Belgian Grand Prix. Moving to Ferrari in 1952, Farina found himself being outdone by another younger team-mate, this time Alberto Ascari. Farina’s first win for Ferrari, and the last of his 5 World Championship wins, came at the Nürburgring in the 1953 German Grand Prix.
At the beginning of 1954, Farina was badly burnt in a startline crash at the Sports Car race at Monza and was forced to take time off to recover from his burns. He attempted a comeback in 1955, but this return did not last long. Because of the pain when racing, he had to dose himself with painkillers. He scored some points in 1955 season, but retired from Formula One at the end of the season.
Farina was unable to stay away from racing and made attempt at Indy 500 in 1956. At the Monza race he crashed and broke his collar bone. He entered a car for the Indy 500 again in 1957, but after his team mate Keith Andrews was killed in practice, he decided it was time to quit.
On June 30, 1966, Farina left from Turin in a Lotus-Cortina, heading towards the French Grand Prix at Reims. In the Alps near Chambery, his car skidded off a slippery bend and the Farina was killed in the car crash at the age of 59.
Nino Farina received a doctorate in law from the University of Turin and was widely known as Dr Giuseppe Farina. At the race track he was known from his straight-arm driving style. Sitting well back in the cockpit, Farina hold the steering wheel with both arms fully stretched. This driving style was copied by many drivers. When racing, Farina used to push the machinery beyond the point of no return and had far more than his share of accidents, which he tended to blame on bad luck or fragile machinery – never himself.
Nino Farina belived that his survival was due not to good luck but to his deep belief in God and after every accident he would give prayers of thanks to the Virgin Mary. “He was like a high strung thoroughbred, capable of committing the most astonishing follies. As a consequence he was a regular inmate of the hospital wards.” Enzo Ferrari.