Featured: Hundreds Of Horsepower Racing Under Storm Clouds At Imola Is My Dream Come True

Hundreds Of Horsepower Racing Under Storm Clouds At Imola Is My Dream Come True

Armando Musotto By Armando Musotto
November 26, 2018

Photography by Armando Musotto

The sounds and smells of motorsport have a way of distorting time—not necessarily bringing you back to the era when vintage cars weren’t vintage—but witnessing them in person makes the last time you did so feel like yesterday. It brings me back to my time at the Targa Florio Classica (where I wished it was the “real one,” but still enjoyed it, as usual), but going to a place like Imola is different. Obviously it’s a race track instead of a street course like the Targa, but to call the place simply a “race track” is not enough. To me and many others it stands among the great temples of speed still in use around the world, and a visit to the charming town of Romagna for the classic racing weekend has been a longtime member of my bucket list.

My arrival saw the town embracing me with cold fog and near-continuous rain, exactly what a southerner like myself needs to break the rhythm of heat and beaches. Sunshine is nice, but monotony always kicks in. As I do in my life generally, I crave the rainy and dark elements in motorsport, and for an event like this I would have happily waded in wet shoes through the snow for the weekend.

It was three days of fire, and sometimes in a literal sense. The skies opened and poured their contents on us, but there’s nothing some good Tortellini, red wine, and petrol burnt in anger can’t fix. I liked the rain anyway, so it was an excellent weekend fulfilling the high standards I’d set for it.

Immediately arriving to the racetrack on Thursday, the tranquility is noticeable, that intrinsic sense of Zen’d calm that pervades the Romagna arena; people are walking about, the elderly are shouting at each other a little bit while they play cards, and I sip a cold beer in front of the starting line enjoying these moments almost as much as those about to come. Everything is almost empty and mostly quiet, but you can feel something bubbling.

It’s the next day that all of this changes. The dome of atmosphere above the circuit fills with dark clouds and the engines begin to spew their sound, roaring loud enough to send echoes pin-balling through the city. It’s a wonderful feeling and I don’t want to wake from the dream I’ve landed in.

I pinch myself a few times half joking but semi-serious in the back of my head where superstitions and such are born, and then an official yells at me to return to the pit lane. It’s all true after all. Listening to the famous engines that molded me into the enthusiast I am today is an inspiring moment that I only hope to translate through the photos I had come to take.

And in the exact moment when I connect my mind to the camera and start to look through, literally, a different lens, the batch of cars in front of me leave the grid, only a large cloud of dust and a good, strong scent of fuel remain in their place. The tires scream on the asphalt that’s already been witness to many great battles in this sport. The track, like any in motorsport, but to a degree like few others, becomes an arena for battle against oneself as much as it is against others. The cars are still battling today, and in their advanced age you can’t believe how fit they still are. I can’t spot many people driving like it’s a demo lap, and there are some fierce battles for position not only among the front runners.

Finally, the sun ends its arc for the day relative to our little spot on the globe, giving us even dimmer light underneath the black clouds that have accompanied us throughout the weekend. The weapons are laid down as the cars leave the track for the night, and friendship triumphs as in a knightly duel. I love classic events for this reason: true competitors on the track, immediate friends off of it, and if you think about it, in today’s day, that’s an especially wonderful and rare thing to share with people.

The clouds rise threateningly in the morning on Saturday, and I wake up early hoping for a sunrise but am treated to more of that damn fog instead. I don’t mind though, as it suits the place. In the collective imagination, a race track is a colorful and exciting thing, but for the way I see things, Imola is more brutal. A bit darker, harder, a container for things you’d rather not see but can’t look away from.

The heroes of yesterday are back to chase each other again, raising enough water to have me fully soaked by nine in the morning. Maybe some sun would be welcome at this point, I concede, but I still enjoy the impact of these wonderful cars, their aura fused with water, changing the way they look, sound, move.

It is with last Cobra crossing the line, under pouring rain, that this Imola Classic closes, ending for me what has been a rather holy year of historic racing weekends in Italy. This is certainly among the best, with 225 cars, a historic venue, a welcoming land, great food, really, all the perfect ingredients for a holiday in Italy whether you live here or not.

Next year the Italian stage of the Peter Auto series will move from Imola to Monza, from one hallowed location to another. I am already documenting some of the food in the area, and I look forward to the time when the cars come to town and call me back again.

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Armando MusottoBill MeyerVasco Correia SilvaBryan DickersonCater forall Recent comment authors
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Bill Meyer
Bill Meyer

Bravo Armando,
Previous respondents have used up the superlatives that I might have chosen so I’ll simply say,
Dude…..you nailed it.
Stunning light, great angles. Made me feel I was there.

Armando Musotto
Armando Musotto

The goal was to bring you all with me. Happy to know that i realised my purpose.

Thank you Bill.
Your comments are always appreciated.

Vasco Correia Silva
Vasco Correia Silva

Great eye ! Congrats for those photographs.

Armando Musotto
Armando Musotto

Thank you Vasco.

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Great, great photos!
It does blow my mind that there are folks in this world that have the means to own and race vintage Porsche 917s – wow, what another universe! I’m also a bit partial to the Iseki Porsche 962 since one of my personal “drivers” on the farm is an old Iseki tractor. Great tractor but I doubt it could keep up with the 962, at least not with me driving. ;^)

Armando Musotto
Armando Musotto

Hi Bryan.
I always look forward to your comment.
I think it is really difficult today to put hands on such sacred monsters, both from a technical point of view and from the “drive” point.
It must be really difficult to drive them, even if the steering is not really light to run.
But I love them, I adore them and it was for me I would only look at classic competition.
But between 917 and 962 … it would probably be the biggest dilemma…
Maybe I could drive your iseki! ahahahaha

Cater forall
Cater forall

Those photos are sublime 😍

Armando Musotto
Armando Musotto

Thank you Cater. Imola and rain are a perfect recipe for a good story!

Jack Chesnutt
Jack Chesnutt

Perhaps the moody weather inspired you. Perhaps it created the fantastic lighting. Either way, this is some of the finest photography I’ve seen on the Petrolicious site. From the 356 tilted up on the jack to the faces of the drivers to the reflection on the wet pavement of the RSR tail-light – just excellent!

Armando Musotto
Armando Musotto

Thank you Jack.
The weather has definitely inspired me and made the photos come out.
Coming from Sicily, I’m used to always shooting in rather sunny environments… but it’s when the rain comes out that I really find my dimension.
Thanks again for the compliments. It’s really an honor.

Andrea Casano

Wonderful 🙏🏻

Armando Musotto
Armando Musotto

<3 too kind!