The Vernasca Silver Flag Is Where Classics Go To Race Under The Radar
Photography by Federico Bajetti
If England has the Goodwood hillclimb, Italy has the Vernasca Silver Flag historic hillclimb that each year gathers more than 200 racing cars from all over the world. It’s an important event organized each year in June by the Club Piacentino Auto e Moto d’Epoca, or “C.P.A.E.”, the Piacenza classic car club, which ensure that the heritage of the original Castell’Arquato Vernasca hillclimb lives on.
The Silver Flag is a proper racing reenactment (or should I say a “dynamic concours”) of the original event held between 1953 and 1972. The event used to serve as a proving ground for drivers by the likes of Arturo Merzario, Andrea De Adamich, Consalvo Sanesi and Mauro Pregliasco.
With its first edition in 1994, the Silver Flag has gained a lot of success, being often a nominee as Classic Car event of the year by the prestigious Octane Magazine a number of times. 2016 marked the Silver Flag’s celebration of Alfa Romeo, and just like this year’s Targa Florio and Mille Miglia, it was stormed by a great quantity of cars of this beloved brand. Owners of brought a selection of the marque’s finest, from road racing cars to sports prototypes, from pre-war to the Superturismo cars of the 1990s. FCA Heritage head Roberto Giolitto also brought a rare 8C 2300 that was raced back in time at Le Mans, along with a stand containing the much-awaited new Giulia.
The 5.2-mile (8.50 km) course is still a proving ground for both cars and drivers, as it divides into two different sections. The first is where the maximum speed is reached by the cars and despite the artificial chicanes used to put a limit to the speeds and increase the safety, the fastest cars like the Lancia LC1 still reach approximately 155 mph (250 km/h) on the longest straight. The second is the uphill section, where the road is all twists and turns: for the drivers is where the real fun begins.
Cars participating at the event are the top selection from motoring’s finest, and if you go there, expect to see precious metal like the Ferrari Daytona Competizione, Original Alfa GTAs and 33s, Matra Sports and Formula racing cars, Abarth prototypes, one-offs and all manner of Formula cars.
Aside from being one of the most important events to attend in the motoring calendar, the is a symphony of rare cars being used properly on one of the most amazing roads in Italy.