Featured: GALLERY: Historic Motorsport Will Always Have A Home At Monza

GALLERY: Historic Motorsport Will Always Have A Home At Monza

By Armando Musotto
October 23, 2020

Photography by Armando Musotto

I’m writing this in the Malpensa airport, waiting for my plane, people-watching, trying to gather my thoughts. These are the moments when I stop to think and write down a few lines while the thoughts are fresh and the echoes of the weekend’s emotions are still bouncing around in my head.

It’s been a few weeks since the Monza Historic racing festival took place, and though I’ve been around other cars and other events since then, there is something about Monza that makes the memories stick. The Monza Historic is a highlight of my calendar each year, and in 2020 especially so—the fact that it was held at all is something I didn’t take for granted. This wonderful weekend of vintage motorsport follows a simple but effective recipe: Go to a beloved circuit in Italy, fill it up with legendary cars, and let the rest take care of itself. This year has been remarkable for all the wrong reasons, but there are still some chances to indulge in the joys of “old cars,” especially if that definition includes Porsches hunting down Lolas at speed.

The organizers at Peter Auto once again managed to put on a show for those of us who made the journey to the temple of speed. I’m sure that no Peter Auto historic racing season would be complete without an appointment in Italy, home to many legendary circuits and birthplace of the most beautiful sports racing cars in the world.

I have no trouble falling in love with the American or German or Japanese cars that speak to me, but I think my soul will always resonate the most with the likes of Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Lancia. Lucky for me that at the Monza Historic, there’s no need to choose, seeing as I was often literally surrounded by the types of cars that legends and legacies were built on.

Unfortunately, due to the virus, the event was held behind closed doors this year, eliminating that splendid human element that does more than just populate the stands and fill the paddocks. While it may be nice to shoot the cars in a less crowded space, I longed for the atmosphere that comes with the fans.

Their collective energy and enthusiasm was sorely missed, and I hope that my words and photos can relay some of the feeling of being there. I’m hoping to see some of you next year, but for now this will have to do.

Prima Variante, Lesmo, Ascari, Serraglio, Roggia. Over the course of the three-day weekend’s racing, each corner of the circuit hosted a dogfight. It would be easy enough to assume that without full grandstands the drivers might take it a bit easier on track, but judging by the amount of closely fought battles—from 1st place all the down to the back of the pack—they were seemingly trying their best to recreate the in-period action.

I don’t always look for the silver linings in life, but the emptiness of the venue did lend a certain gravitas to the racing. Without the dearly missed spectators, it felt sort of like watching the 2AM-6AM section of a 24-hour race, but in the daylight. Typically when a 917 wearing Gulf colors is on a racing circuit, there are no lack of people leaning on the fences to watch. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to be there.

Every race group was a race worth watching. There is no filler to be found at an event like this. In the Classic Endurance Racing classes 1 and 2, a Lola T70 MKIII and Lola T600 took respective victories, while in the 1960s’ Endurance category, the Cobras dominated—and were seemingly in opposite lock for most of their events.

The monsters of the Group C prototypes class were led by, you guessed it, a Porsche 962. In the Heritage Touring Cup, a BMW E9 CSL took command of its fellow fire-breathers, but there was much more to see during the weekend than just the fan favorites. Each category, every car, deserved its place. I hope we can all enjoy them together again someday soon.

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