Honoring with Horsepower: Mauro Pane Memorial
Photography by Alessandro Bianchi
To commemorate the death of a petrolhead, silence is almost offensive: better get all those engines running wild and loud for an entire weekend on a race track! The Memorial Mauro Pane was an event dedicated to one of the most important F1 restorers and tuners in the world, Mauro Pane. Do you remember the racing scenes of the movie Rush? If so, the man behind the wheel of the film’s Ferrari 312 T was Pane. Maybe not well-known by the public, but a respected person, driver and mechanic in the racing world, who died in a road car accident in 2014.
If vintage racing is your thing, this event will just blow you away, as it did me.
Walking among vintage F1 cars, smelling burnt fuel, hearing loud exhausts, seeing the mechanics wrenching frenetically on very special engines…for the real petrolista, this symphony is better than Beethoven’s 9th.
With a Martini Racing Lancia LC2 Group C car on display at the entrance of the event, the feeling is like taking part at a downsized Goodwood Festival in the middle of nowhere. All those unexpected treasures share the same tarmac, so that enthusiasts are able to enjoy the sights and sounds with unrestricted access.
As I stroll between this madness, I feel like I’m in the right place: I can simultaneously hear the loud sound of a red Lola T70 MkIIIB while it coughs smoke rings and flames out of the exhaust pipes, feast my eyes on the beautiful Martini Racing livery of both a Brabham BT 42 and 45, then twist my head inside the cockpit of a Tyrrell P34 6 wheeler…for an F1 fan, this equals to his dreams made real. Completing the selection of cars on hand, there was a ’76 March-Alfa Romeo 90CA, an ’82 Arrows A4, a Dallara F192 with a Ferrari V12 engine, and a ’75 Lola T370 HU1.
Aside the impressive array of F1 on display, which unfortunately weren’t scheduled to run on track, there were Formula Junior/Abarth, GT, and prototype cars inside the paddock: the coolest of them all were a pair of two Formula Junior cars, a Repco Brabham 26 and a Lotus 22—both owned by a married couple!
It’s important to discover more about who Mauro Pane was, besides a person who kept these amazing machines running so that we can enjoy them long into the future. I went to speak to organizers at F1 Storiche, the firm behind the event, point me a man who is calmly walking in the paddock ensuring everything is running smoothly. I am told he is Marcello Pane, the father of Mauro.
I decide to go greet him and see if he agrees to have a short interview for Petrolicious readers. We sit trackside, at the junction between the pit lane and the main straight. “Can you tell me how all of this started?” I ask him while a Formula Abarth screams on the main straight.
MP Mauro, my son, started early with go karts. In 1986, he won the Italian Kart Championship, when he was 16 years old. We wanted to continue racing, and we went to compete in Formula 3 and prototype racing. At a point during this career, we offered to restore a friend’s F1 cars in exchange for a racing car. That’s how we started our business.
JV How did you start with classic F1 machines?
MP After we started, we had the opportunity to work on a Tyrrell 6 wheeler: Mauro was really interested in it, and we convinced the owner of this car to let us race it historic competitions. We kept it for 4 years: we raced twice in Monte Carlo, where we finished two times in third place and once in second place. On that occasion, we lead the race until the last lap, but a flat tire made the car crash into the “tabac” corner!
We also developed the car year by year. With this one we won the Italian and European championships, and also the Goodwood Grand Prix.
After the owner decided to retire the car from the races, we bought a Lola T370 HU1. This car is very special, as it is the only F1 car made by Lola. It was supposed to be powered by an Alfa Romeo “flat” 12-cylinder engine. But Alfa Romeo revoked its decision to send its units to Lola. From then on, Lola shut down their F1 project and gave all the material to Graham Hill, who later built the GH1 with a Cosworth engine. The one we have here today is the only one made by Lola, and there is another one built by Graham Hill. But as the Lola project, this is the only one left.
JV How many cars did you have in your shop?
MP We did a total of 40 competition cars, from F1, F2 prototypes and classics. We came to the Circuit Tazio Nuvolari when they where building it to test the cars. We did so for every car we restored and maintained. When the circuit was completed two years ago, we began testing them more seriously: here we also tested the original Ferrari 312 T that was featured in the film Rush.
Mauro restored it with approval by Ferrari. He had a good relationship with the company: his name is on a wall in Maranello entitled “All the men of Ferrari,” and was also mentioned in the official McLaren book as one of the men who drove the M29.
Lastly, he was awarded by Juan Manuel Fangio himself for the excellent work he has done preparing historic F1 cars for the first edition of the Porto Cervo Grand Prix. What an honor! When we tested the Minardi-Subaru M188, Carlo Chiti—who designed the engine—convinced Mauro to start the car and test it in the parking lot! Mauro restored many important cars, such as the ex-Niki Lauda Ferrari 312 T—the list is really long.
After the accident he had, I didn’t want anybody to continue his work. He was the only one who was able to do it properly in Italy.
We finished our brief but friendly chat; having never met Mauro or his father before the accident, I didn’t really know about these great works of preservation done for racing cars— and now, I just feel sad. As I watch Marcello walking away from me, the track is strangely both empty and silent.
For just a second in the middle of this circus of speed, loud noise, and gasoline, there were no wheels spinning, no cars racing and no engines running. Everything was just still and quiet.