The hills – and, more importantly, the roads around the hills – are alive again. Mythical Cars Rally (May 24-27) brings the music of motorsport back to the Province of Pavia and the lanes of Lombardy once more.
And this is a region known for its love of rallying. Fifty-two years ago Simo Lampinen won the inaugural Quattro Regioni Rally in a Lancia Fulvia.
While Mythical Cars Rally doesn’t cross the regional borders of Lombardy, Liguria, Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont in the way the original event did, there’s no doubting the potential for participation from across quattro regioni.
“The logistics to recreate that event of four regions was so complicated,” explained Mythical Cars Rally advisor Andrea Adamo. “We have taken the town of Varzi and the Province of Pavia and based our event here – this place was at the very heart of Quattro Regioni Rally. It’s part of the history of the sport here.”
And that history is both rich and varied. For three decades through the ’60s to the ’80s, such stars as Lampinen, Sandro Munari, Bernard Darniche and Miki Biasion topped the podium on an event which rivalled any rally for prominence in the European Rally Championship.
“Quattro Regioni became a really big event,” said Adamo. “I don’t just say this because I came here and I have so many memories of this rally as a child, I remember a time when this rally was considered like a candidate for the World championship.
“I remember Malcolm Wilson coming here in a Ford Escort [RS1800] and [Juha] Kankkunen. I remember [Jean-Claude] Andruet winning in 1981 driving a Ferrari 308 GTB.
“The regions of Lombardy, Liguria, Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont all have such history and so many stories in rallying. To bring the sport back to this area, to have the opportunity to rekindle the passion for rallying and to be able to spend a week in May telling and listening to those stories is something very special for everybody involved.
“And for the 40-or-so crews competing at Mythical Cars Rally, this will be such a special occasion to recreate a magical – mythical – period of time in our sport.”
Matching Adamo’s passion for Mythical Cars Rally is ACI Pavia president Marino Scabini.
Talk to Marino about his memories and he can’t help but smile.
“It wasn’t just for one week,” said Scabini. “The rally went on for a long time, a long time. For weeks we would have crews doing their reconnaissance in the night – we would all be allowed to wait up to see the cars coming through. The party feeling started when the first recce began and the atmosphere was just building and building until the rally actually began.
“I can feel the same atmosphere building now. The passion, the rally, the feeling has come back to the region.
“Mythical Cars Rally is exactly what was missing. When we first talked about it with Andrea Adamo, we immediately found ourselves in-tune and completely aligned. We needed to restart, in part from the origins [of Quattro Regioni Rally], from the kind of rallying that had made people passionate and that can still rekindle the flame.
“I really believe the cars that will run here in May represent the golden age of rallying, and I think this is the right formula to remind any fans of what they were missing.”
Q&A with Marino Scabini, president of Automobile Club Pavia
What does Mythical Cars Rally mean for ACI Pavia?
ACI Pavia is administered first and foremost by enthusiasts, and for us it is a great honor to collaborate with Andrea Adamo and all the other professionals involved in the organization. It is something that is a source of pride for us, which in some way makes us return to the ancient glories.
Can it be said that the Mythical Cars Rally is the most important race organized in the area in a long time?
Not only can it be said, but it should be said! I would add without any doubt that this is the most important race since the days of the Quattro Regioni Rally. Now we are in a different context, times have changed and in some ways they are even more difficult, because there are so many rules and regulations and it’s not so straightforward to bring a race to the territory. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the passion and the desire we have for the sport in this area.
Speaking of the region, tell us about the anticipation for Mythical Cars Rally in Varzi…
The region is literally buzzing at such a level that it has literally amazed me. Everyone is calling, enquiring, asking, wanting to know more about what’s going on and how they can be involved. And I’m not just referring to fans. No, this race is already involving all aspects of tourism and commerce in the region – we’ve had tour operators, bed and breakfast owners, restaurant and hotel managers calling to find out more.
The co-operation with all local authorities is also something we have been delighted by. Everybody is working so hard to promote this area and Mythical Cars Rally. Through motorsport, ACI is really helping to promote tourism in the area – this is so important.
How is ACI Pavia preparing for Mythical Cars Rally?
To organize this race we are working side-by-side with a group of very good professionals. In addition to Andrea [Adamo] there are other figures, each with their own specific skills, who are all really very well prepared. We are a team of about 25 people now working full time on this project. And we have to be! There is no time to waste now, documents have to be delivered in a week. The competition starts on May 26, but for us the rally has already started!
You are undoubtedly a president passionate about rallying. Where does this love for the sport come from?
It’s something I’ve carried since a very young age. As a boy I was both a race official and a timekeeper. As soon as I could, I started driving, first in gymkhanas and then in rallies. I competed for a dozen years and still do from time to time, but the role of president and organizer doesn’t leave me so much time to do it anymore. But the role of president is also a great way to show my passion. When I was running for election [to ACI Pavia president], my big passion was exactly this, the chance to bring rallies back to the province of Pavia. This feeling we have of organising Mythical Cars Rally is the same like it was when we were competing.