The Season-Ender At Monza Has Been An Italian Rallying Tradition For Over 30 Years
Photography by Andrea Klainguti
Monza is a name that needs no introduction for motorsport fans. There’s the long and illustrious history of Formula 1 races, yes, but the historic track’s contemporary calendar is still very busy with touring cars, Formula classes, endurance racing, test days, track days, and everything you would expect in pursuit of speed.
At the end of November though, the modern competitive season ends and the iconic venue is transformed into a big rally playground for the aptly-named Monza Rally Show. This year’s iteration marked the 38th edition of the event, and after visiting it for the first time four years ago, it has become a fixture on my calendar, and I’m happy to share my images of the most recent visit with you.
The great thing about the Show is that it’s not only run on the modernized GP Circuit: the special stages flow in and out of the racetrack, disappear into the surrounding forest and even making use of the legendary and now semi-abandoned bankings of the historic circuit. A change in the regulations in 2013 has allowed historic cars to participate in a separate class and thus opened the event to iconic machinery like the Porsche RSR, Lancia Delta (S4 and Group A versions), BMW E30 M3, and many more, as you can see.
This group was obviously the one I was more keen to spend some time with, running ahead of the plentiful selection of the “new stuff.” The difference in participation numbers between the modern cars and the classics still presents a sizable gap though—a look at the entry list shows that the modern cars were divided into seven categories for a total of 97 cars, while the historic class included just 23, and, of course, not all of them were running.
I only had time to attend for one afternoon and two of the nine total stages, so I needed quick reflexes and even quicker feet to chase this elusive group of rally history around the far-reaching areas of Monza’s footprint. Luckily, if I missed one in action I was able to find it again in the paddock after the race for some close-up images of the machines and their drivers and crews.
The contrasts between the two categories is unmistakable when strolling across the paddocks. On one side there are energy drink logos, grid girls, and colorful banners adorning the big haulers that restrict access to the pit lane, while well-known names like Grand Prix Motocross World Champion Tony Carol and Italian superhero and eight-time Monza Rally Show winner Valentino Rossi are getting ready for their runs. In the area for the historic cars on the other side, however, the atmosphere has a more colloquial and laid-back vibe to it. That’s not to say these guys aren’t professional and focused on good results, though. Mechanics, family members, and friends are busy changing wheels, tending to miscellaneous mechanical elements, or else discussing setups with the drivers, all in front of interested onlookers.
These are the things I really love to be a part of during these types of events: the little moments of passion, friendship, togetherness. A vibrant scene with the goal of keeping these wonderful old race cars running competitively.
Spending a late-in-the-season day watching speeding, fire-breathing icons of motorsport in one of the most revered temples of speed is definitely a worthwhile activity in my book, and this unusually warm edition this year helped me enjoy it all that much more. With an abundance of friendly spirit, plenty of liberty granted to the spectators, and the sight of historic and modern cars tackling a venue with this much heritage, the annual Monza Rally Show is something you should see should you find the opportunity. I know I’ll be coming back again next year. Until then, I hope you enjoy my gallery, and I wish everyone Happy Holidays!