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Author Topic: The Real Italian Job  (Read 2192 times)
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2Lancialan
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« on: 31 December, 2008, 12:12:41 PM »

Following James Martin's fascinating programme on BBC2 on Sunday evening, about his (somewhat unfortunate and expensive) experience in participating in the modern day Mille Miglia in a Maserati, I was wondering whether anyone was sufficiently inspired to consider entering a Lancia in that event, or knows anyone who already does/has?
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FulviaFiend
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« Reply #1 on: 31 December, 2008, 03:28:04 PM »

Best of luck entering that one these days… its really become a bit of an elitist event and an absolute rich mans game only!

Just look at how much James Martin shelled out, approx £800K for 150 miles driving, personally i would have very serious words with whoever rebuilt that engine!  Undecided

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« Reply #2 on: 31 December, 2008, 04:55:28 PM »

I sent my entry in and entered the Appia, exactly fifty years after an Appia had won its class, I think in 1954. I supported the entry with evidence and a letter from the consortium. The cheque was also drawn, as requested, on an Italian bank. Result? Cheque returned and no reason given. As we were to be in Italy anyway we took the car and tagged on the end for free. Over the years I have competed at all levels of historic motorsport but the attitude of the Italians left me cold. Frankly the Mille Miglia now has zero to do with what was a marvellous race, the drivers and navigators on the whole are dimwhitted, unable to repair even the smallest breakage and cannot even drive at the 30mph average without wearing ridiculous outfits. Imagine Goodwood personified by five thousand per cent. Give me Wales anyday.   
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« Reply #3 on: 31 December, 2008, 06:52:59 PM »

I watched the programme and thought that James Martin's planning for the event was rather poor.  To expect a car to go the distance after an engine rebuild and no real shake down left me amazed  Shocked  He would have been better trying to enter the 2009 event and have a year to prepare rather than the few weeks he left himself!
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Stuart Wilson 11175
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« Reply #4 on: 01 January, 2009, 11:00:34 AM »

Yes Stuart, that was exactly my thoughts!

However, did anyone spot any Lancia cars on the event ? I thought I saw an Aurelia Spyder in the background when his car had broken down ...

I did enjoy the programme though and would love to do that ... however, it's a load of money - I'd go for Wales too ... !
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« Reply #5 on: 01 January, 2009, 12:04:27 PM »

I also spotted a B24 Spider on the event.  In some of the 'vintage' clips, I am sure that I saw a couple of Lambdas and also a couple of Aurelia Spiders.
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Stuart Wilson 11175
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ian
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« Reply #6 on: 02 January, 2009, 10:29:03 AM »

A well known business man in my area, (Cornwall) whom I have had dealings with in the past, had entered his old Alfa tipo type thing (don't ask me?) a few years ago...he's worth quite a few bob....but he even felt like a pauper  Embarrassed
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« Reply #7 on: 04 January, 2009, 04:55:53 PM »

I read through the Daily Telegraph today (whilst in a cafe - I don't buy papers!) and there was a good write up of the event and a picture of an Aurelia B20 in the article! Does seem to be a rich mans game for sure and hats off to Stirling Moss ....
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« Reply #8 on: 04 January, 2009, 07:06:28 PM »

Appreciate we are now in the Euro parity game but £300,000 for an engine rebuild ! ? Someone saw him coming!

Almost cheaper to run a real Supermarine Spitfire!


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DavidLaver
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« Reply #9 on: 07 January, 2009, 09:53:53 AM »


He did seem to be a bit of a Charlie - no offence Mr Crocker...

I had my Lancia road racing experiance on the Isle of Man: I've attached the Viva Lancia article I wrote at the time.   Alas children have rather got in the way since, but its lovely hearing about Jason and Louise's adventures with the car, in particular the Modena 100hrs.  I think if anyone wanted an authentic Mille Miglia experiance that's problably the best place to get it.  Have also heard good things of the Targa Florio retro.

http://www.modenacentooreclassic.it/

David

=======

Isle of Man Classic

Road racing

The point of the Isle of Man is road racing, always has been and I hope always will be.  When you leave town the unrestricted sign means unrestricted and many move to the Island for that alone.   The TT course is 35 miles round the Island and shuts for five weeks a year.  On top of that there is the Southern 100 bike racing festival, Manx rally, historic Manx rally, three hills championship, and a little end of season fun for classic car racers.  For us they isolate two housing estates for a couple of days, close the busiest road in the capital for the rush hour, and let us have a mountain for a day.  To give people something to do before the competition starts they have a treasure hunt, TT convoy run, and a couple of parties.  After the closed roads events and prize giving gala dinner is a race meeting at Jurby airfield as an end of week wind down.

The first corner

   The first corner epitomises what the place is all about.  Quick cars are timed at close to 150mph past the police station still accelerating down the hill.  From perhaps 160mph in a Ferrari GTO, Maserati 450S, E-Type, DB4, or Tiger braking is over wavy broken tarmac.  From 120mph in an Aurelia my roll cage rattled inside the car at about 50hz.  The corner is a blind 90 degrees with a high stone wall on the inside.  Spectators can stand right on the outside of the corner in, wait for it, a petrol station.  I went into the petrol station, bought my coffee and Mars bar and watched as the quick cars hopped the kerbs, brushed and later bashed the bales as the limit was found in this practice session.  I must confess I spilt a bit of coffee as an E-Type smashed into the low barrier just in front of where I was standing.  No red flags – just wave the car out and away in a gap to continue with a bent snout.

Just a pursuit sprint – just like the Mille Miglia was a just pursuit sprint…

   RAC rules have the event as a sprint – cars are flagged off at five seconds intervals and are seeded to ‘avoid’ overtaking.  As such no blue flags can be used to warn of faster cars approaching.  In the briefing we were advised to use mirrors and be careful not to impede cars if ‘having difficulty’.  Difficulties include less power, grip, brakes, and testicles.  They push the rules to the limit to give drivers some fun and create the most amazing spectacle.  Fortunately there was no ‘big one’ and it will be on again next year.  Like the Mille Miglia it will come to an end, hopefully after I (and some of you) have had a couple more goes at it. 

The 69 clubs

They have a 69 club for cars that flip.  My race day session was red flagged when a Ford special, without a rollbar, went over and once again became a collection of bits.  My stomach churned on hearing that an ambulance was needed for a spectator.  I later found out the spectator only got knocked over by another spectator leaping clear. I was then worried to hear she was a lady in her 70s but finally relieved to discover she had just formed the spectators 69 club as she ended up on her head.  Apparently she blamed herself for standing behind someone so nervous.  She’s used to the TT bikes leaping over where she stood and ending up in the gardens behind.  The driver had by some miracle walked away from the wreck and was able to spring up at the gala dinner to collect his award.  After all he was leading at the moment the event was stopped.

Enthusiasm – everywhere, everyone

   Before practice there is a parade lap behind the course car.  For most sessions the clerk of the course was back 30 seconds ahead of the wimps in the racing cars. Leaving the gala dinner he let me off the race day briefing to give Sara a Sunday lie in.  He’s the boss and the tone was thus.  Scrutineers prep more than check your car. They had rolls of various coloured tape to mark the earth lead, tow hitch etc and wrote me a long lists of 'advise' items.  The marshals have the best party and invite the drivers.  By the end of the week I knew several by name, and many to wave to on my way round Jurby race circuit.  Every day more photos arrive from spectators I met, some of whom I will make considerable efforts to see again (you know who I mean Alan Broadhurst !!).  After a week, all day, all night, everyday, every night, you recognise policemen out of uniform and meet the hotel manager’s children.  Oh – and you also get behind any pretences from fellow competitors.  Its very different from just a Saturday afternoon or even a season of Saturday afternoons.

Given how 70 year old ladies love their motor sport you can guess what the youths in garages are like.  A visitor from Nevada went into a hedge in his pristine Sunbeam so hard that the back wheels were off the ground.  A garage rebuilt the front end for free, competitors gave wheels and tyres, and he raced the next day.  When an Austin A35 water pump exploded and ripped holes in the radiator and inner wing news of an A35 in a scrap yard to the north of the Island was back in the paddock before the car.  The yard was shut when he got up there but the plumber next door knew a man in his street with one. A radiator was removed and loaned for the week.  All he asked for was a set of event stickers for his son's push kart.  I was lucky to bash my exhaust over some bumps.  Lucky because they refused to let me leave their garage without straight pipes.  Lovely noise and little pops of flame.


I did you proud   

Elsa is the first Lancia they have had in all ten years of the event so naturally I entered the Concours D’Elegance. The local organisers thought it a hoot with my 40% primer 10% chips and scabs car.  Those over from Ireland refused to believe I was English.  The other racers who had entered smiled a little.  The proper concourse entrants were more than a little sniffy as I backed the car in belching oily exhaust fumes over them and their cars.  At least I gave them all an excuse to get the duster out again.  Alas no award – maybe next year I’ll shake the grit off the mats and clean more than just the glass.

   The car attracted huge attention.  Mechanics from Jag teams snuck over to chat and examine the car when bosses were away.  Most children on the Island can now pronounce Ore-Ray-Lee-Ah.  We even got a snap and some kind words in Classic Car Weekly.  On my ‘next year’ list is a sheet of points to note – right hand drive in an Italian market car, universal joints sticking through huge rear wheel bearings, first production V6, a single piece shell of hand beaten seam welded panels, sliding pillars, and of course the race history.  I’ll spare you cognoscenti – especially after our splendid Aurelia supplement in the October ‘Viva’.

The Dogs had their days

After a double take, nay triple take, at the results I realised that I won my class for the night time seafront sprint.  They have chicanes over wet tram tracks outside the big pubs to liven things up and fireworks to finish.  The chicanes are like the speed restrictions near my house so I felt at home and this dog had his day.   Alas was up against some pretty hot race prepared cars on super sticky tyres so a bit outclassed elsewhere.  Got some nice photos in the post yesterday with inside wheels at funny angles and the outside ones tucked under the arches – a contrast to the go karts that came on trailers with racks of tyres and vans of mechanics.

I enjoyed driving my Willaston sessions, make no mistake, but the driving highlight was the Sloc hillclimb.  This is about a mile and a half up a mountain with the top bends eventually taken flat out. Turn in point is when you can't see any more road, just sky.  Would have needed a search and rescue team to find anyone late turning or off line into those ones.  Willaston pursuit sprint memories include locking up the rear wheels for 50 yards down a narrow stone walled lane, uncomfortable moments over the bumps at TT favourite Governors Bridge, and a 270 degree spin at Signpost corner.    Aurelias have always been road racers and it was very much at home on the event.  I asked where the dangerous corners were and was told to watch the dangerous straights.  The Aurelia with independent suspension and rear mounted gearbox tracked true as others jolted  serveral random feet left and right over bumps.  These were fun to follow, and more than a little exciting to pass.  How they ever ran full GP cars on the circuit beggars belief.

From my class of five one holed a piston, another lost all gear selection, another routinely swallowed a gallon of water each time out and was retired when it started to need a gallon of oil each time as well.  An Aurelia is a tough old bus and got us there, round, and back with just the exhaust system needing attention. Oh ok then – the clutch has just about gone and the oil consumption has gone from appalling to worse but we did get back ok.

Next year…

At Jurby the big Jags and yanks would gobble up the straight in half the time I took. However I’d be up behind them as they lifted for the fast kink at the back of the circuit, carried more momentum through the chicane, and gained on the long corners.  This on road springs and tyres.  On a circuit that’s not about power, or in the wet, or on a stamina event we’d be up there.  At the Sloc I was down on the class winner by less than I improved over my four runs.  Maybe with race jets in the carb?   Looking at photos of Willaston there are kerbs to bump over round Williston and cambers to cut inside.  Maybe I could get up the front?  Oh these winter pipe dreams.

One of the big benefits from the week is the enthusiasm that rubbed off on Sara.  She’s hunting out a garage to rent nearer to home so I can get the jobs done quicker and planning the season ahead.  There’s also a little more pocket money each month for Elsa than before.  Sara is learning Italian and trying for a little sponsorship from her company, maybe to add to a little from your company?  Pipe dreams again.

Motoring Mecca

In my class was lady race and rally star Gabrial Konig, one of many professional drivers including Tony Pond who rate The Classic as supreme, a paradise, Mecca.  (Mr Pond can sure make a Mini Cooper dance…)    I will treasure my stamps with bikes on, tickets with stamps on, coins with cars on, videos in other cars and outside with mine on, photos, results sheets, tankard, concourse plaque, hotel bar bill, and paper cuttings.  I’ve road raced a Lancia - I’ve tasted the best.  If I never do another competitive event again I won’t be disappointed, but somehow I think we’ll be back.
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David Laver, Lewisham.
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« Reply #10 on: 07 January, 2009, 10:06:07 AM »

Thank you David, wonderful evocative read.

Brian
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« Reply #11 on: 08 January, 2009, 10:14:49 PM »

David,

Thanks for your post – a welcome antidote to the programme itself, and the pillocks who produced it and featured in it. I don’t remember reading your article in Viva Lancia! – when was it published?

Colin

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DavidLaver
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« Reply #12 on: 09 January, 2009, 11:54:17 AM »

The event was Sep 98 so maybe the November Viva.

The Isle of Man classic would be a lovely event just to watch let alone take a car.

http://www.manxmotorracing.com/index.htm

Jersey run similar events.

http://www.classicandvintagejersey.co.uk/

David
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David Laver, Lewisham.
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« Reply #13 on: 09 January, 2009, 06:18:25 PM »

Actually, there was one almost redeeming aspect of the programme in that included short extracts from a 40 minute film made of the 1953 Mille Miglia. This is a truly remarkable film made by Bill Mason for the Shell Film Unit. It was Bill Mason’s son Nick who appeared briefly in the programme.

More details of the film are on this website: http://www.citwf.com/film224229.htm and it looks like it will shortly be available online, see: http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/15048 . It might still be available as a DVD and is well worth looking out for – a real delight.

Colin
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« Reply #14 on: 09 January, 2009, 08:32:25 PM »


I've got it in two parts on "Motorfilms Quarterly" DVDs.  Its Volume 6 and 7 to look out for.

David
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David Laver, Lewisham.
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