23 Shots From Italy’s Unforgettable Rally Valsugana
Photography by Federico Bajetti
As it stands, historic rallying is a sport for guys. No matter what you think, racing a car through the woods with out-of-this-world speed will do wonders for your manhood. Historic rallies are just the cream of the crop: fast, often fragile, old cars tearing up tiny mountain roads is a sight worth seeing.
Regional events like the Rally Valsugana are the place where you can see the matter of passion for motoring. Who would love to see an old beat up Volkswagen Golf or Alfa Romeo Alfasud trying to make itself heard from distance? Don’t expect huge crowds, either: just devoted enthusiasts here.
Most importantly, each historic rally is a showcase of indigenous car cultures from a region, aka “gangs” as they’re called here in Italy. You can get the desperados, or tame drivers still revving their regular Autobianchi A112s, Fiat 127s, and Golfs to the limit, looking like the most fun you can have–before grandma notices her daily driver is missing, of course.
All for the exhilaration that hits a fanatic when the distinctive sound of a hot-cammed one-thousand-something-cc engine is being revved to the limit.
Racing these little tiny boxes on four wheels next to giants like the Lancia’s Stratos and Fulvia is just exhilarating. For fans, watching the sport is almost complete relaxation, compared with a larger event. Bring along a folding chair, don’t stand on the outside of a corner, pay attention, and you’ll get an afternoon from eco-friendly first class seats, climate controlled by Mother Nature.
Here, car classes change quickly, and after the last of the small capacity cars has passed (and god, they’re fast!) the distant sound of the giants echos against the pine trees as they approach your position, like a cavalry charge. Nothing can best the ferocious roar of the Lancia Stratos ringing in harmony with the hot-rodded flat sixes from Porsche 911s. Alfetta GT’s racing against Ferrari 308s? Priceless…
None of the teams in these rallies races for glory; some race for victory, but most race because of the sake of racing. Honestly, as an enthusiast, I get a lot of satisfaction in seeing perfect mountain roads closed for the purpose of competitive motoring is immense.
I think that events like the Valsugana Historic are pure gold for the true enthusiast. We’re pretty lucky here in Italy with regional motorsports, but I know there are similar events around the world—is there a historic rally near you? If so, I’d love to read about it in the comments!