GALLERY: The Espíritu de Montjuïc Gathers World-Class Vintage Race Cars For A Weekend In Barcelona
Photography by Armando Musotto
Finding balance in life is difficult, in part because the definition is always shifting according to the ebbs and flows of the hobbies and responsibilities in your life, but 2018 was a wonderful year of imbalance, one in which my scales tipped further toward automobiles and photography than they have in quite some time. In between trips to Imola (for the Imola Classic, a particularly special weekend of historic racing), Vernasca for the Silver Flag, local events like the Giro di Sicilia, and to Spa for the Spa Classic, my calendar was the kind I would have only daydreamed about a few years ago.
Beyond the locations and the cars and the racing, I met a multitude of other enthusiasts and likeminded people who have made the journeys even brighter. After a few months of downtime during the holidays and the wintrier months of the year for the majority of Europe, I was ready to pick up again where I’d left off last year and I decided that I’d have my first taste of gasoline (literally, if you stand in right places at the right times in the paddock) at the Espíritu de Montjuïc, named after the old street course and held at Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya.
So, with the work backpack loaded (99% camera gear and extra underwear), I left home for a nation I’d never set foot in. I had never been to Spain before, and I was very curious to see how it compared to my home in Sicily, as many friends had told me there were similarities, especially in regards to Catalonia. When I arrived it hardly felt like I’d left.
I believe that these people and Sicilians are similar—similar sensibilities and passions. Granted, I still have yet to spend significant time in the country so take my opinion however you want, but clearly the enthusiasm that the locals I spent time with at and around Barcelona earlier this month recalled a similar type of energy that can be seen in the faces lining the route during the Targa Florio.
The Espíritu de Montjuïc, in its third edition as part of the Peter Auto historic racing championship, is three days of adrenaline, beautiful cars, and splendid Catalan atmosphere. I was anxious to attempt to capture it all, to translate at least some of the emotions that I saw in the eyes of just about everyone I happened to glance at across the open engine cover of a 917. Exalted once again, these sole-purpose machines briefly exit retirement to face rain and scorching heat and their old mechanical rivals on a world-class circuit—it is enough to bring a sparkle or a tear to any eye pointed their way.
Trading flames, bangs, pops, and doses of corner-exit opposite lock, the visual element of these splendid races is not as fervent as it might have been in period, but as anyone who’s watched any historic racing in Europe knows, there’s little room on the track for those wanting to drive at anything like a parade pace.
Running around the fencing (and up and down the elevation changes) of the circuit for three days while remaining very close to very loud engines takes a toll, but the exhaustion is of the satisfying variety, and though the otherwise sun-soaked weekend ended with a low and darkly clouded sky above me that threatened rain, the bright yellow Ferrari 333SP that ended the event ensured that it did so on just as high a note as the ones coming from its naturally-aspirated cylinders.