This Is What It Was Like To Chase The Modena Cento Ore Classic
Photography by Jayson Fong
You’ve probably not heard too much about the Modena Cento Ore Classic…and there’s a good reason for that: it’s a hidden gem in the world of historic motoring and that low key character is all part of its allure.
Since 2000, the MCO has taken an exclusive selection of some of the world’s best cars on stunning road rallies across Italy at speed. Recently, I joined 94 cars forming one of the best collections I have ever seen on the road travelled coast to coast from Rimini in the East to Forte De Marmi in the West, before a final leg to Modena as per tradition.
Breathtaking is probably the best word to describe the four days on the road. Surrounded by some stunning machines including five Ferrari 250 GT SWB models, two Porsche 904s, a selection of Jaguars (including an XK120 piloted by legendary Porsche pilot and Le Mans Winner Jürgen Barth), one BMW 3.0 CSL Batmobile, a Ford GT40, and a Lancia 037 Stradale…to name a few. The Italian landscape couldn’t have looked much classier.
However, it wasn’t all about the look, it was much more about speed: this element alone made this event very special indeed. An incredible spectacle, the MCO delivers on being an event made for true racing enthusiasts and for those looking for a pure motoring experience. Over four days, we covered three iconic Italian circuits for some intense flat-out historic racing; Imola, Misano, and Mugello—plus 12 high speed special stages that were closed to the public during the journey including Passo Dello Spino, a mountain pass well-prepared for apex-hitting action—with painted kerbs and all!
A police escort, closed roads, high-powered and priceless classic sports cars encouraged to be driven, “as fast as you can”. This was perfection.
Fear not, those who weren’t too fussed on the competition of racing and the fear of trading too much paint had the opportunity to take part in the regularity section and travel at their own pace.
The good news doesn’t stop there, either, after all of the action there was also time to take in the surroundings—something I have found rare when on other road-based rallies. Each evening featured a new location and a new experience. The highlight of the evening stops was in Florence, where a black tie dinner had guests dining in the historic hall of the Medici Family at Palazzo Veleccio, an almost unheard of opportunity that helped make grand touring a truly appropriate description of the Modena Cento Ore…there was also our final evening where we dined after hours in the Ferrari Museum.
Is the Modena Cento Ore the perfect road rally? In my opinion, quite possibly. It’s a great excuse to see some of the world’s most beautiful places and go racing at the same time at a comfortable pace with sensible distances for each leg of the journey. With close to 100 cars, it’s also the perfect size and i hope this never changes. It’s enough to have great diversity and competition but also enough to avoid too much on-road chaos, and also allows a real sense of community and camaraderie between all participants to take place.
It’s no wonder nobody really wants to talk too loudly about the Modena Cento Ore, it would only make getting into that 94 car selection even more difficult…