Legends assemble at the Leggenda di Bassano and In Moto Sulle Alpi

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Laura Ferriccioli

It was another double whammy for the Automotoclub Storico Italiano at the end of last month and as sponsors of the ASI Circuito Tricolore project Car & Classic was there to bask in the glory of the Leggenda di Bassano and the In Moto Sulle Alpi. What a weekend it was!

First off, the Leggenda di Bassano (Legend of Bassano). Recognised as one of the most famous Italian historic motorsport events it sees 95 vintage Sport Competizione cars built between 1920 and 1960 arrive from 12 nations around the world to meet up and crack on, from June the 27th to the 30th.

There were four whole days to enjoy with emotions running high in a climate of celebration and the sharing of passions. Beginning on Thursday with the first arrivals of the crews and the sports checks at Villa Caffo Navarrini, in Bassano del Grappa, the celebrations continued into Friday with the first part of the route through the breathtaking Dolomites mountain range in north eastern Italy. The cars, which in total travelled the best part of 400km over the weekend, represented some of the most beautiful Barchettas to ever grace tarmac.

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There was an incredible gathering of 14 Bentleys built between 1926 and ’37, an absolute record for a tourist-cultural event like this, as well as five O.S.C.A.s, a majestic Mercedes-Benz 720 SSKL from 1930, 4 Maseratis, including two A6GCSs and a 300 S, 11 Jaguars, with two SS 100s among them and a C-Type, and two Bugattis. The Prancing Horse representatives included the very rare Ferrari 225 S Spider Vignale ex Vittorio Marzotto that won at the 1952 Monte Carlo Grand Prix – the first Cavallino to triumph in the Principality. Never had there been so many beautiful racers at the Leggenda, excalimed Stefano Chiminelli, the event’s patron.

Travelling across the weekend between Veneto and Trentino Alto-Adige, in the North East of Italy, the 29th edition of the event saw the crews gather in San Martino di Castrozza at the end of the first day for the evocative dinner at high altitude at the Colverde Refuge. The longest stage took place on Saturday, with passages through Canazei and Moena. The gourmet lunch at the starred Ciasa Salares restaurant was particularly appreciated, where a string quartet concert was held with a selection of classical pieces chosen to enhance the beauty of the surrounding area.

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In the afternoon the crews then passed through Passo Valles before returning to San Martino for the parade in the historic centre, followed by the gala dinner at the Hotel Savoia with music by the Legend Band playing traditional rock. On Sunday the return to Bassano del Grappa passed through Siror and Arsiè, with a delicious stop at the Cornale Brewery. Later, a cheering crowd welcomed the cars in Piazza Libertà in Bassano, from where the crews gathered at the Cloister of the Civic Museum for the awards ceremony.

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There were also many pre-eminent guests who didn’t merely make appearance but actively participated in all the days of the “Legend”. In pole position was the host Miki Biasion, official time-keeper and main sponsor of the event, who drove the trailblazer car, a splendid Dallara Stradale made available by the Varano de’ Melegari Factory, evincing the strong bond that has existed for years between these two Italian legends. “At the Leggenda I always feel at home”, said the two-time world champion.

Another legend of the Italian rally, Tonino Tognana, participated as a special guest driving a Tojeiro Cobra 427. Also the German engineer Laura Kukuk von Glahn, one of the most esteemed personalities in the panorama of historic motor racing, attended the Leggenda this year: “It is incredible how, despite the incredible level of the car fleet, the organizers manage to maintain a climate of friendship”, she said. “We felt part of the family from day one”. Hear, hear Laura! We get exactly what you mean.

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Various skill tests enlivened the days and bought further excitement but the undisputed hero of the event was the landscape, with the constant presence of the Dolomites, a UNESCO heritage site providing a spectacular backdrop to proceedings. The Legend of Bassano is, in fact, a tourist-cultural event where the very territory has a fundamental value, as confirmed by the president of the ASI, Alberto Scuro, who came to greet the staff and participants both at the start of the event and at the arrival in Bassano, fully reflecting the values of the ASI Circuito Tricolore project, by the Automotoclub Storico Italiano.

In total there are 18 events that are part of it and take place from April to October throughout the country, including the islands. With such a prestigious and exciting field of racers, it was really difficult to choose an outright winner of the Leggenda di Bassano for  the Car & Classic prize this time, which, as always, we award to a particularly historically significant car. The Pasqualin Fiat Giannini 750 Sport of Stefano Mecchia and Adelino Meotto won this time around. Built in 1950, the racer was on its first ever outing after a 5-year restoration.

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From the Leggenda di Bassano within the peaks of the Dolomites to the mountains that mark the border between Italy and France it was the turn of the daredevil motorcyclists to take centre stage at the start of In Moto Sulle Alpi, riding almost sixty historic two-wheelers built up until 1985. The route began entirely on the French side with the departure from La Salle, Aosta, immediately seguing into the first “climb” to the Piccolo San Bernardo.

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With stage arrivals and restarts in La Clousaz, the first day’s passage was at the two thousand meter mark of Cormet De Roselend, Beaufort Col Des Saisies, Flumet and Col Des Aravis. Then the riders took on the crossing of Col De La Colombiere, Marnaz, San Pier En Faucigny, Ugine and Col Du Marais.

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The final route took the riders to the Morgex finale, passing through Bourg St. Maurice and La Thuille. Riders and engines were put to the test on the seemingly endless hairpin bends of the traditional marathon of the Turin Veteran Car Club, which applauded the exploits of Roberto Castiglioni on the oldest motorbike of the lot, the Sunbeam Model 9 from 1932, and Sergio Airoldi on his 75cc Capriolo S from 1956.

The Car & Classic prize was awarded to another example that you don’t see very often but each time you do the admiration is impossible to suppress: the MV Agusta 175 GSS from 1956 ridden by Carlo Alloisio. Congratulations Carlo!

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