Tube-Frame Alfas And Lancia Stratos Don’t Mind Racing In The Rain At The Trofeo Foresti
Photography by Federico Bajetti
Back in 2014, a classic road rally was organized to cover 263 kilometers of open-road driving across Italy’s Pianura Padana (the Po Valley in northern Italy) in memory of Guido Foresti and his wife Elda. He was not a prominent racing driver from history, not a team owner, not a manager, nothing like that. He was simply an enthusiastic man who loved classic cars and the events that supported them, like the modern Mille Miglia, which he participated in with his family.
He was a man who lived with passion, though his two hobbies were somewhat in opposition, at least geographically. He loved to hunt—which took him on trips far from his home in the flatlands of the valley—and often out of the country entirely—but his infatuation with vintage sports and racing cars kept him tied to his familiar territory.
After his passing in 2013, the first edition of the Trofeo Foresti was organized for the following year, and after seeing the support from his friends and other like-minded gentleman drivers, the organization committee and the Foresti family decided to turn the event in a proper regularity race to be held every year from then on out. At first it was just a gathering of close friends who were interested in making Guido’s Bugatti run once more. It’s grown steadily in the years that followed, and I recently attended the 2018 edition during a rainy weekend in March wherein I was met with more than 100 cars ready to compete; from pre-war metal to icons of the late-‘70s, they were all united in the town of Pralboino, just south of Brescia (the “Mille Miglia city”), where the technical and pre-race inspections took place.
After a gala-type dinner on that Saturday night, the race start was scheduled to begin the following morning. Despite even more rain, more than two hundred people were there bright and early; friends, drivers, press teams, and support staff were all ready and more than willing to drive across the lowlands of the Pianura Padana, through Piacenza up to the scenic hills of Castelvetro (famous for the Vernasca Silver Flag), and then back north through Cremona.
Guido’s personal jewel, his 1927 Bugatti 37A that he used to race at the revived Mille Miglia, was in the first line of cars to set off on the route, sharing the ground with several Lancia Lambdas from the ’20s, a BMW 328, and of course plenty of Alfa Romeos, like the stunning 1964 TZ coupe. This particular one was owned by a famous gentleman driver named Giancarlo Sala from Brescia that raced it in the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he managed to finish in 15th overall. Hearing that little but impetuous 1.6L engine screaming through the countryside roads was a memorable experience just on the auditory level alone. Besides the Italian metal and fiberglass, Porsche 356s arrived in force, together with a few Jaguars, a handful of Minis, and some Triumph and Austin Healey roadsters to round out the British contingent. The bright yellow Stratos took much of the attention though, as you’d expect from a sun-colored rally wedge against the backdrop of an altogether grey day.
63 timed stages made up the event from the early morning until the afternoon, allowing a well deserved break in a local trattoria, a typical stop where drivers had the chance to relax and protect themselves from the rain. A plate of ravioli, a little glass of wine perhaps, and then back out to the wet tarmac heading up to the Vernasca hill climb stage, to finally finish in Pralboino at sunset. It’s a unique event in the sense that it isn’t paying tribute to anything particularly well-known or historically significant; it’s just a bunch of people enjoying the pleasures of driving old cars through scenic country roads. The fact that it attracts this much support even in such shoddy weather is a testament to the passion that lived in Guido Foresti and that continues to live in the hearts of so many people like him.