Journal: Here’s How Racers Get Ready To Face The Fearsome Dolomite Mountains

Here’s How Racers Get Ready To Face The Fearsome Dolomite Mountains

By Jacopo Villa
May 2, 2016
7 Comments

Photography By Federico Bajetti

The day before a historic rally is one of those experiences that only this form of motorsport can produce. If you love rallying, I strongly advise to go see any and all regional races held in your country. Go a bit earlier, and you’ll see that getting a car ready to compete isn’t an insurmountable (or prohibitively expensive) goal.

While following the modern day World Rally Championship is still way more entertaining than Formula 1, small events like this are the essence of the sport. It’s not about the cars: it’s all about the people who participate. The Valsugana Historic Rally, held in Italy’s Valsugana valley, is one of those races that gives you the perspective of what one can do when passion for rally is set free. It’s a one-day event which—besides being the best way to spend a Saturday—it’s an excuse to hike on mountains to see some racing.

We received an informal invitation from our friend Marco Frainer to join him in the preparation of his 1989 Opel Kadett GSi, one of those forgotten Cosworth-tuned hot hatches from the days gone by. Although not as competitive as a Renault Clio, which is a popular sight in rallying, it is a less sophisticated car overall. It represents, however, the pinnacle of hot hatch rally cars…at an affordable price.

The equipment upgrades to Marco’s car from stock are very minimal: a tuned engine, reinforced suspension, and the racing harnesses. It doesn’t get as basic as this package. The bodywork? Completely stock. No fancy carbon fiber (except for the air intake), or ultra high-tech materials.

Before being a capable rally driver, he began as a car mechanic: you shouldn’t be surprised that his hands were not only on his car during the time we spent with him. As a matter of fact, his shop looked like the epicenter for all cars that were participating in the event. Being located at the bottom of the Sella valley, the sound of the cars coming and going was reverberating all across the place: it was truly surreal.

While still being very friendly, Marco was busy dividing himself between the preparation of his 1989 Opel Kadett GSI 16v and the constant flow of customers that kept coming to make final adjustments.

While Marco’s shop is the headquarters of the Scuderia Manghen Team, he never refuses to help other competitors out. During the time we spent with him in his shop entered a yellow Fiat 131 Abarth Rally, two Autobianchi A112s, and a Porsche 911 SC, all to receive final adjustments. This is the sort of collaboration that you only come across in historic rallies: everyone helps everyone.

In a world where racing is getting more expensive and, at the top end, is tough without manufacturer backing or a large bank account, old-school rallying is a breath of fresh air. Rallying is built on the very honest philosophy of driving on varied roads, and at its core, it’s events like the Valsugana Historic Rally that remind us why we love cars so much.

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Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago

You’ve just got to love how agreeing with the writer … adding to his comments rather than disagreeing … not to mention expressing an honest and well founded opinion based on reality and facts has become the new ..

Old and Bitter !

Well my revisionist dictionary fans … old(er) I may be … wiser most definitely .. a hell of a lot more experienced you betcha.. blunt and honest almost to a fault , guilty as charged … but trust me .. in light of my current position/status in life … bitter never even enters into the equation . Content .. with the willingness to instruct would be the more accurate description

Maxime Veilleux
Maxime Veilleux
8 years ago

Skipping GS comment about the past.

Is the car in the first picture in the third row of picture (with a guy exiting it)
an Autobianchi?

Definitely wish something like this would be available in Canada.

Great pictures as always.

Maxime Veilleux
Maxime Veilleux
8 years ago

Just paid closer attention to the article and saw that the car is an Autobianchi A112 sorry about that.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago

1) Honestly …. be glad they never did ! Import the Autobianchi NA way that is . It was the worst combination of desperate and unreliable parts imaginable
2) Funny that a car [ the A112 ] with absolutely zero rallying history would not only make its way onto this event but be featured in the header of the article as well . Proof positive once again that Historic Rally and Racing .. is neither historic … rallying .. or racing in the slightest . Its all about the parade and the conspicuous displaying of ones possessions

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago

Varied roads [ both paved and unpaved ] of various lengths , varied weather [ remembering when a blizzard was no excuse for canceling a stage ] and varied conditions [ night and day ] in a wide variety of cars both factory and private entries driven by a wide variety of characters/drivers . Those were the days ..sigh

Now its all manufactures teams with overly homogenized cars .. driven by homogenized corporate drones .. on safe little micro stages .. daylight only .. in only the safest of conditions [ rain is enough of an excuse to cancel a WRC stage these days ] … iconoclasts , innovators and characters need not apply … sigh …

A request Signor Jacopo ? A few more photos [ or a link ] of the AutoDelta Alfetta if you please

De Dion
De Dion
8 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

Now you just sound old and bitter. WRC has definitely became boring compared to the past and that is mainly due too sophisticated cars and every event being forced into the same mold (short and fast). But still, they race on tarmac, gravel, snow, dirt.. you name it. They race in every possible weather. The only things missing from the events are the sense of adventure and the endurance aspect.

And if the WRC doesn’t float your boat there are countless series around the world with cars from historic to modern and everything in between.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

@ De Dion – Not to be contentious or anything but you’re sounding terribly young and utterly clueless ! Seen any mixed stages [ gravel and pavement on the same stage ] lately ? Been paying attention as to how many stages get canceled because of weather ? Witnessed any night stages recently ? When’s the last time a stage even reached 20 miles in length not to mention exceeded it ? And tell me … whens the last time a winner came out of the ranks of amateurs ? Not to mention who might even so much as approach character status among todays corporate drone drivers ?

So whats missing ?

Everything son ! And the worst of it is … your generation and your obsessions with your little digital play things and inability to handle genuine heads up competition are half the cause of it ! That and the corporate interests steady homogenization , commoditization , corporatization , scripting and dramatizing all motors sports from WRC to F1 to the point of excluding all aspects of .. ‘ sport ‘ !

BWTM : Just to add one more strain to my argument that you in fact are rather clueless and uninformed when it comes to the subject of motorsports in general … allow me to illuminate you to the fact that all motorsports fan bases [ including TV ] and participation from F1 right on down to the NHRA , NASCAR and the local level … including your precious example of Non Racing .. e.g. the pretense known as ‘ Classic Racing ‘ .. which isn’t .. racing that is [ its a display .. period ! ] is on the wane to the point of sponsors , manufactures etc rapidly pulling out …. because my fine feathered little Snowflake … there is no ‘ racing ‘. .. to be seen .

Now look son … I get it .. you’re uninformed , have no clue what you’ve missed out on [ despite the hipsters among you trying to recreate a past they know nothing about ] … you’re trapped inside a politically correct everybody deserves a medal syndrome .. the digital has taken the place of reality in most of your minds … but seriously . An argument like that which you’ve given above ?

God**** it ! No wonder with the likes of you racings gone to the dogs .. Rock music has become WooWoo fluff for the Xanax generation.. our political system is on the verge of being ‘ Trumped ‘ .. .. and autonomous cars are just on the horizon . No guts .. no glory .. zero ability for critical thinking … iconoclast and individuality being a concept so distant to you its become more myth than reality … sigh … and why do I bother ? Its your mess now son . Enjoy not living yet being alive !

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