Antonio Ascari learned the trade as a mechanic before World War One, and established himself as an Alfa Romeo dealer afterwards. That connection led to him racing works Alfas, but by then he already had races under his belt, driving a modified Fiat in the 1919 Targa Florio (he crashed into a deep ravine). In 1923, in his fifth Targa Florio in 1923 he finished second, and a month later won at Cremona in a brand new Alfa Romeo P2. In 1924 he came within three laps of winning the French Grand Prix in 1924 but did take the Italian event and finished the season as one of the leading drivers.
In 1925 he began with a start-to-finish win at the Belgian GP but soon after was killed while leading the French GP. When it started to rain everyone slowed except Ascari; he skidded, his car rolled and in the pre-crash helmet era his injuries proved fatal. His son, who was seven at the time, went on to become a leading driver before he too was killed driving, also at the age of 36.