Shot and written for Petrolicious.
Monza is a name that needs no introduction for motorsport fans. There’s the long and illustrious history and the F1 races, yes, but the track’s calendar of today is still very busy with Touring Cars, Formula Classes, Endurance Races, Tests, Trackdays and everything you would expect pursue ultimate speed thrills. At the end of November though, the competitive season ends and the iconic venue is transformed into a big rally playground for the traditional Monza Rally Show.
This year’s was it’s venerable 38th edition and after visiting it for the first time 4 years ago, it has become a fixture on my calendar as well and I’m happy to share my images of it with you.
The great thing about the Monza Rally Show is that it’s not only run on the GP Circuit: the special stages flow in and out of the racetrack, disappear into the surrounding forest and even make use of the legendary and now semi-abandoned bankings of the old track. A change in the regulations in 2013 has allowed historic cars to partecipate in a separate class and thus opened the stage to iconic machinery like Porsche RSRs, Lancia Deltas, BMW M3 e30 and many more. Those were obviously the cars I was more keen to see, running ahead of the plentiful modern ones. The difference in participant numbers between moderns and classics was evident after a look at the starting list: The newer cars were divided in 7 categories for a total of 97 cars, the historic class included only 23 cars, and not all of them were running. I could only attend for one afternoon and see two of the nine stages so I needed quick reflexes and even quicker feets to chase this elusive small group around the far-reaching areas of the track. 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 drivers as well.
The contrasts between the two categories is also unmistakable when strolling across the paddocks. On one side energy drinks, grid girls and colourful logos adorne the big trucks that restrict access to the pitlane, while well-known names like mxgp World Champion Tony Cairoli or italian superhero and 8-times Monza Rally Show winner Valentino Rossi are getting ready for their turns. In the area for the historic cars on the other side, the atmosphere has a more familiar and laid-back vibe to it, while still professional and focused on a good results. Mechanics, family members and friends are busy changing wheels, fixing up cars or discussing setups with the drivers, all in front of interested onlookers. These are the things I really love in this kind of events: the little moments of passion, friendship and togetherness. A vibrant scene with the goal of keeping these wonderful old racecars running competitively.
Spending a late-november day watching speeding, fire-breathing rally icons in one of the most revered temples of motor racing is definitely OK in my book and this unusually warm edition made me enjoy the action even more. With a friendly spirit, plenty of liberty for spectators and the sight of historic and modern rally cars tackling a venue with undoubted heritage, the annual Monza Rally Show is definitely worth a visit. I’ll be there again next year!