“Vitesse en bleu”
“See you Friday in Castell’Arquato, you may arrive at whatever time you wish!”
“Stop where you see the bustle”, and what a movement!
I enter the paddock and I park along Arda river, I already have my camera switched on… Oh Gosh, that is a Serenissima. This is how it starts!
The first person I speak with is the friend Arturo Merzario, in top shape. He is participating in the Vernasca Silver Flag, Historic Hill-climb too, a dynamic competition of preservation and restoration for racing cars.
A friend from the area explains that the inhabitants of Val D’Arda have a particularly strong temperament, “a lot of history, few words, and a lot of substance”. It all corresponds to my surroundings: 23rd edition, few rules, many engines. The 2018 topic is “Vitesse en bleu”, the great French racing cars. Nine kilometres, starting from Castell’Arquato to reach Vernasca, passing through Lugagnano.
A coming and going of cars and people which puts you in a good mood, the background noise is a cheerful frenzy. The paddocks are filled, then there are the last checks, some mechanics are still working. Castél Arquà crosses over and it becomes international. Voices in different languages overlap… sharing, fun, competition, gossip, wholesome food and good wine… the preparation, prior to the race, is the moment of emotional carburetion!
29th June 2018, a suffocating heat, accompanied by a concerto of cicadas and my gaze reaching the Arda river, “will the water be cool?”. No bath, only some relief under the trees.
Some of the participants talk to me about the events’ good organisation, by the Club Piacentino Automotoveicoli D’Epoca, and the volunteers received many compliments.
The meetings are always interesting and fun. Just like the outstanding story of the Isotta Fraschini Fenc 10 built in 1908, with the majority of original parts, you may judge the preservation state for yourself.
This jewel was acquired by Mr. Gian Luigi Saccardo in 1959, in Argentina. When the car disembarked in Italy, it was transported to Schio and the new owner didn’t restore the car, but only performed minimal interventions on the mechanics, in order to make it functional. Girolamo Saccardo, son of Gian Luigi, tells me this intriguing story. In 1970, Gian Luigi and his wife, Marina, went through a rough patch in their marriage and, the latter, decided to hide the Isotta Fraschini with the help of her son. The owner desperately searched for it, and he divulged a cease and desist order to its purchase across the whole of Europe, as well as reward for whoever helped him in finding it. Foreseeing a long break for the Mona Lisa, which I show the Isotta Fraschini was nicknamed by Mr. Lyndon Duckett, mother and son decided to disassemble it and to store it in a safe place, until the end of the contrast between the spouses. In 2015, Mr. Gian Luigi died and he left the Fenc to his son, Girolamo, who, in 2016, after forty years of oblivion, anxious with emotion, opened the boxes storing it. Mr Girolamo allowed me to sit on this rare car and his wish is sharing the joy of admiring this elegant Lady with those who can appreciate its value.
A delicious smell took over my nostrils and I start swallowing and salivating more or less like when I see a Lancia Stratos or an Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ or a Maserati, I won’t elaborate too much. I know, it happens to you too.
Paolo and his assistant, Erny, are undisputable masters of the Brescian skewered meats… they required the help of someone from Valtellina for the polenta, each one to their own. The kind Ms. Jolanda prepared the vegetables, pies and desserts, she has some enviable culinary skills! Let’s start our Pit Stop with a toast for the cooks, one for Jolanda, one for Daniele and Max, one for the Vernasca Silver Flag… good food, many anecdote and guaranteed laughs!
And this is only the beginning!