Host City: Innsbruck, Austria
Venue(s): Artficial Bob and Luge Track, Igls
Date Started: January 31, 1964
Date Finished: February 1, 1964
Format: Four runs, total time determined placement.
Italy’s Eugenio Monti had completely dominated two man racing in the years since the last Olympic bobsleigh events. In partnership with firstly Renzo Alverà and then Sergio Siorpaes he had won six of the previous seven world titles and set the track record at Igls during the 1963 World Championships and was seen as the obvious favourite for the 1964 Games. His rivals included his countryman Sergio Zardini, who had won silver behind Monti in 1963, the Great Britain I pairing of Nash and Dixon who had excelled in training and the two Austrian crews.
The first run was full of surprises with Vic Emery in Canada II taking the lead ahead of Great Britain I with Monti trailing in fifth behind Zardini and Austria I. The Italian favourite rallied on the second run but at the end of day one it would be the British that held a narrow lead over the two Italian crews. That the British team were in this position was a tribute to the sportsmanship of Eugenio Monti as when a bolt in the British bob was damaged beyond repair in the first run it was the Italian that provided a spare bolt for his rivals. Weather conditions deteriorated on the second day of competition and the third run was held before dawn in attempt to avoid an oncoming thaw. When the third run was completed the first two positions had changed and Zardini and Bonagura led the field with the British bob just 0.05 seconds behind but with Italy I also in a position to challenge for gold. The draw for the final run favoured the British who had an early start position but a mistake around the Hexenkessel curve cost them valuable time and, they believed, a chance of the Olympic title. Nash and Dixon then retired to a nearby café and listened to the remaining runs via the course commentary system. Their first challengers were Italy II driven by Zardini but he also made a serious mistake on the Hexenkessel and dropped back to second 0.17 seconds behind the British. This still left Monti’s Italy I bob with a chance of glory and he started his run well but when the course commentator exclaimed that “Monti, in den Hexenkessel… unhurig (unsteady)” his chances of an overdue Olympic title were over.
Tony Nash and [Robin Dixon] had started competing together in 1961 when Dixon’s previous partner, Formula One racing driver Henry Taylor, had been seriously injured in a Grand Prix accident. They would go on to win the 1965 World Championships and compete at a high level in the sport until the 1968 Winter Games despite competing for a nation which had no bob run. Sergio Zardini emigrated to Canada shortly after the Games and won the North American Championships for his adopted nation. He was fatally injured in a crash at Lake Placid in February 1966. For his display of sportsmanship in both this event and the four man event Eugenio Monti was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal.