Snowy Italian Winter Marathon Makes for Great Rallying

Photography by Pierpaolo Romano

This was an especially good year. The snow fell heavily and racers enjoyed drifting through curves all the way up the mountain. A snowstorm hit the majestic Dolomites a few days before the rally and organizers tried to get the roads cleared but it was pointless, above 2300m (about 7500ft) there was only snow and ice. The truth is though, it wouldn’t be the Winter Marathon without snow.

Mr. Andrea Vesco was only seven years old when the rally began in 1989, but it wouldn’t be too long before he entered the classic car world. He got his start thanks to his father, Roberto, whom Andrea calls the “real expert in vintage cars” when he was only ten. Two short years later he became his father’s navigator.

Over time, they came to stand on the Mille Miglia podium four times (2001-2004) and won two classic Italian Championships together. Andrea’s success continued when he went out on his own, again winning the classic Italian Championship (three times in a row, 2011-2013) as well as the Gran Premio Nuvolari (also three times, 2010, 2012-2013).

In addition to actually racing though, Andrea and his father, along with much of their family, now organize the Winter Marathon. They bought the rights in 2008, along with the Franciacorta Historic, and have been the organizers since. They’ve changed the format of the Winter Marathon slightly, doubling the number of stages and increasing the time of the race to twelve hours! But the location and essence remain unchanged. 

However, it’s not a pure-speed, whoever-gets-there-first-wins sort of race. It’s a TSD (time, speed, distance) or regularity race—you’re given a route, checkpoints and speed. Whoever comes closest to the expected time based on those speeds wins. So, for the hard-core, the Winter Marathon is really a competition of precision.

Taking place every year on the second to last weekend of January in Madonna di Campiglio (northern Italy) the winter Marathon’s 420km route passes through the provinces of Belluno, Bolzano, Trento, and for the majority of the route takes place in the Trentino Alto Adige region. It begins on Friday at 2PM and ends on Saturday at 2AM, after twelve uninterrupted hours of driving.