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Bassano 16th - 19th of June 2011

The Dolomites are the location for several classic car rallies during the season but the most important ones should be the Coppa d´Oro delle Dolomiti in September and the Mitiche Sport a Bassano in June. Since 1995 the ASSI Club (Auto sportive storiche italiane) organizes this fantastic event for open sport cars built prior 1960 and what started with a small selection of 36 cars back then became a well known event among the owners of these “barchettas”.
The scrutineering starts on Thursday afternoon in the small village Romano d´Ezzelino near the name giving Bassano del Grappa and when arriving on Friday morning at the small yard behind historic buildings several cars are already parked there over the night, the others come in during the morning hours. 105 cars where entered this year varying from small Erminis, Morettis, OSCAs to very sportive Ferraris and Maseratis on the Italian side and ACs, Lotus and Healeys on the British side. As many of these cars were seen in the past at the Mille Miglia it is obvious that some owners go for these more familiar events as the MM became to commercial.

On the pre-war side a few Alfa Romeo 6Cs showed up, Amilcars, MG and Aston Martin and traditionally this event is visited by the Benjafield Racing Club so some huge Bentleys could be seen between all the tiny two-seaters. What they all have in common is the lack of a hard top as mentioned above and so it was no surprise that some entered cars where missing due to the not very positive weather forecast for the following days.

Just after the lunch buffet and the typical Italian espresso under the trees the entrants were waived off by Maria Teresa de Fillippis for the first leg of 150 km north to Alleghe. As Bassano del Grappa is in the south of the Dolomites in the region of Venezia the first leg is very much a liaison to the playground of the next day: the mountain passes. The route leads through the vineyards of the region constantly going up as about 900 meters of altitude have to be done from the level of the start to the finish. When entering the Dolomites the scenery became more steep, an impression that was also enhanced as the rain set in. The last miles over the Passo Staulanza gave a good idea what to expect the next day. With most of the cars having no weather protection at all the general outfit was a rain suit and helmet, the Bentley Boys lived up to their reputation keeping the hood down even in heaviest rain. The cars arrived in the early evening at Alleghe where the last time trial had to be done before the cars were parked in the nearby underground parking lot of the hotel.

The next morning started in the dry but a view on the surrounding mountains in the clouds already showed that this should not last for long. The first section was a very narrow canyon that usually is just visited by hiker but that is a superb location for the classic cars as nothing modern distracts the sight. After a timed trial at Alba the tour led over the Passes of Sella and Gardena to the Passo Falzarego with its harsh rocks on the side of the road.

On time for the lunch at San Vigilio di Marebbe the rain set in and with no prospect of improvement it was a challenge to leave the warm restaurant to do another 100 miles in the pouring rain in an open sports car. When arriving at the lake Misurina the other side of the lake was barely visible due to the deep clouds and at the following Passo Tre Croci the surrounding mountains were not either. After passing Cortina d´Ampezzo the cars drove through the famous tunnel that is on many historic pictures of the original Coppa d´Oro delle Dolomiti, on the following Passo Giau it clouded up even more and the visibility was reduced to several meters. The cars passed again the lake of Alleghe with another timed trial before heading south again for the final miles for the finish in San Martino di Castrozza. On their way down they had to go over the Passo Rolle in heaviest rain and when asked in the hotel on of the participants commented this as “Passo Rolle was inferno”.

Weather can change very fast in the mountains and so at the next morning the sun was out again and a blue sky without any clouds made the impressions of the last day even more unreal. The third stage again is more a way back to Bassano with not many highlights beside the road and after the coffee break the cars were displayed at the Piazza in front of the church San Giovanni Battista at Bassano del Grappa after passing the old town through a wooden bridge. Being an inherent part of the event year by year this display is admired by many visitors making it once more obvious that Italy is car fanatic but the rest of the event is much more private than others. Compared to the MM just few people are beside the road and not many cars are driving with the convoy except a few cars of the organization and service. So this is a event to join if you are more into driving your car than showing off. The final is the lunch and the prize giving at the restaurant in the Castello Superiore where the cars are parked within the old walls overseeing the region.

As this is a regularity event with the old fashioned pressure tubes there surely has to be a winner, this year the Team Riboldi/Riboldi did a better job than anyone else on their Moretti 508S taking first overall. But at the end all the participants who braved the rain on Saturday could be satisfied with the event and most of them will be back the next year to meet up in a hopefully better weather.

Text&images: Peter Singhof