The HF Squadra Corse was founded in February 1963, by a young man who was more passionate about racing than any driver: Cesare Fiorio, son of Sandro, the then Director of Communications at Lancia. The name HF is rooted in the “Lancia Hi-Fi” association, which brought together passionate owners of the prestigious Turin cars.
At the 1960 Geneva Motor Show, a group of enthusiastic owners of Lancia cars led by Commander Guido Alberto Rivetti – whose large family over the years appears to have purchased as many as 712 of them – founded the “Lancia Hi-Fi” (High Fidelity), a club with the purpose of bringing together the most diligent clients of the Turin-based brand. The association's statutes demonstrate the strict nature of its regulations, and at the same time the attachment to the brand: “The Lancia Hi-Fi is the perfect way to bring together all the motorists who have shown how loyal they have been to Lancia over time. Its purpose is to strengthen the bonds of empathy and esteem between the members and the brand. All motorists who have purchased at least six new Lancia cars over time are entitled to sign up”.
In February 1963 Cesare Fiorio – son of Sandro, the then Director of Communications – together with other drivers founded a team outside Lancia, to avoid acting against the wishes of the Technical Director Antonio Fessia, who thought it was a waste of time and money for the company to pay large amounts to take part in competitions. The decision to rely on the association of passionate owners of Lancia cars then became the basis for its name: from Hi-Fi (high fidelity) came the simpler HF, with Squadra Corse (racing team) added on.
Throughout the history of the Lancia brand, the approach to racing has gone through different periods. The founder Vincenzo Lancia – who had had a great deal of experience as a former Fiat driver and test driver before he founded the brand that bears his name – decided it was too expensive to make the official commitment to racing in competitions. But his son Gianni, who took over the reins of the company after the untimely death of his father on 15 February 1937, laboured under a fascination for racing both on the road, most of all with appealing, victorious cars such as the “D24” and the Aurelia models (mainly used by private drivers), and on the track all the way to Formula 1 with the Lancia D50 single-seater driven by Alberto Ascari.
But everything it all stopped dead when the Milan champion lost his life on the Monza Circuit, in 1955, while he was testing a Ferrari that belonged Castellotti, a friend of his. Deeply shaken, Gianni Lancia completely abandoned all ambitions by selling the D50s to the Maranello team, then even left the company. A necessary digression to understand how, less than a decade later, it was still very difficult to talk about any Lancia official presence in motor racing.
Among the founders of HF Squadra Corse, Cesare Fiorio was juxtaposed by young drivers, all of whom were passionate about the brand: Giorgio Pianta, Leo Cella, Claudio Maglioli, the Frescobaldi brothers, Enrico Pinto, Luigi Cabella, Francesco Patria and Mario Crosina. The young Cesare – then the team's sporting director – would soon become the architect of great successes for Lancia, Fiat and Abarth in the rally and endurance championships; in the late 1980s he went on to take the helm of the Ferrari F1 team.
But not only for Fiorio, the HF Squadra Corse would become a springboard for his brilliant career: for example, Giorgio Pianta became a driver and test driver for years, then team manager of Abarth and Alfa Romeo at the time of his successes in the DTM with the Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI. Claudio Maglioli was both a driver and a skilled and brilliant mechanic: from an idea developed together with Cesare Fiorio, he built a “barchetta” made from a Fulvia HF, to take part in the Targa Florio in 1969: the F & M Spyder. Years later, his workshop in Biella would produce the winning Stratos that competed in the colours of French dealers after the baton had been passed from the Lancia Stratos to the Fiat 131 Abarth.