Homage to a Hero – Trofeo Scarfiotti

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Tom Wood

Every racing fanatic is familiar with the likes of Stirling Moss, Fangio and Alberto Ascari but we suspect some of you reading may not have heard of the stunning region that is Le Marche in Italy and one of the country’s premier racing drivers of the ’50s and ’60s: Ludovico Scarfiotti. Well, we thought we’d pen a little review of the Trofeo Scarfiotti rally that we were recently invited on to tour the region and we highly recommend you add it to your list of top travel destinations!

Scarfiotti began his racing career piloting OSCAs, the Maserati predecessors in the 1950s, rapidly proving his metal by winning the Italian hill climb championship in 1959 in an OSCA 1500 Sport. He was noticed by Ferrari in 1960 and drove at both the Nürburgring 1000km and Le Mans in a Ferrari Dino 246S and Testarossa respectively.

He moved into F1 driving Coopers and Fords as well as a few more outings with Ferrari. Sadly, during the 1968 F1 championship when he was running 4th overall, his career was tragically cut short in a fatal incident during testing at the Roßfeldhöhenringstraße hill climb in Germany.

The Le Marche natives, or Marchigiani, are fiercely proud of Scarfiotti and his driving accomplishments during his short career so it was a great privilege to be asked to join the local motor club CAEM on its annual homage to this great Italian works driver (whose grandfather was also the first president of Fiat), at the 27th edition of the rally in and around the town of Fermo.

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These ASI (Automotoclub Storico Italiano) rally formats, of which we are proudly in collaboration, are probably not for the hardcore racers who want to put in hundreds of kilometres at the wheel on a daily basis but they are excellent for the discerning classic enthusiast who enjoys a bite to eat and a nice chilled Chianti of an evening in addition to the thrum of an old engine chugging along through the twisties.

One of Italy’s greatest talents is the diversity and quality of food on offer and during these rallies the locals feel obligated to share their region’s finest offerings. With Le Marche being coastal we were stuffed with all kinds of seafood treats at every opportunity, along with some welcome gelato breaks during the longer drives.

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All said we probably only covered 200 miles or so over the weekend but these miles were punctuated with scenic stops in some truly stunning hilltop and seaside towns, including Torre di Palme on the first day – suggestively perched on a rock 200m above the Marche coastline, and Sarnano – in the Sibillini Mounts, home to the base camp for the famous Sarnano-Sassotetto hill climb.

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In total there were 45 crews on board, all with historic cars built between the ’20s and the ’80s making their way across the stunning region of central Italy over the course of the weekend. Blessed by glorious sunshine our base was Montegranaro, a small town but well known town thanks to its many top quality shoe makers. From here we moved on Saturday towards the seaside commune of Civitanova Marche and the day finished with a stunning sunset and dinner on the beach while the cars were put on display and presented to the public in a parade.

The last stop on Sunday was dedicated to Montecosaro and to the Cinema Museum in the village of Pennello, before the last regularity trials section of the event which included 44 tests in total, in seven sections followed by the prize giving ceremony during the final lunch.

We had the honour of being awarded for our very own 1925 Bentley 3/4½ Litre which was the oldest car and Agnese Di Matteo, the vice president of the ASI – the Italian national association which certifies historic vehicles – joined the president of the CMAE Scarfiotti club, Mirko Recanatesi on stage to give a speech and show her overall appreciation of the Trofeo.

Whilst Italy has undoubtedly some of the world’s finest major road rallies in the form of the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Leggenda di Bassano and Gran Premio Nuvolari, it’s well worth digging out these lesser known, more hidden gems. You won’t be grinding out the same mileage as the ‘Mille’ but as a way to appreciate beautiful Italian cars, cities and roads, meet locals keen to stuff you full of tasty food and wine and appreciate just how much the average Italian still loves the classic motorcar with crowds greeting you in every Piazza, you’d be hard pushed to find better than the Trofeo Scarfiotti.

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