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Imola and Minardi Day

The General Assembly of the Grand Prix Drivers Club is always a fun occasion where the members can get together, usually in pleasant surroundings, and enjoy three or four days doing various things.

This year, thanks to Club member Giancarlo Minardi, we were invited to Imola where he had arranged his Minardi Day which coincided with the 25th anniversary of the death of Ayrton Senna. We gathered on the Saturday and at Imola on Sunday there was a large collection of racing cars of all types and ages and including a number of Formula 1 cars that Ayrton Senna had raced.

Host to the Grand Prix Drivers Club General Assembly in Imola was Giancarlo Minardi. (Photo Peter Meierhofer)
Host to the Grand Prix Drivers Club General Assembly in Imola was Giancarlo Minardi. (Photo Peter Meierhofer)

The Minardi Day was not in fact a race meeting but a series of demonstrations so there was always action out on the track. For me, however, it was a moment to look round the cars in the paddock because more and more single seater and sports racing cars from the past are being bought by Italians as there is now a strong movement for historic motor racing and all sorts of interesting cars turned up.

One of the most impressive line up of cars were the Lucchini’s, a marque very familiar to enthusiasts in Italy but less well known outside that country. Giorgio Lucchini was born in Mantua, the home of Tazio Nuvolari. He first made his name with his own tuning kits for Fiat 500s but and over the years he designed and built a number of cars for various formulae. One of his earlier cars was the TN ( Tazio Nuvolari) Formula Junior car seen here with its Ford engine fitted with an Andreolli cylinder head.

TN ( Tazio Nuvolari) Formula Junior car
TN ( Tazio Nuvolari) Formula Junior car

The Lucchini company, now run by his sons, built more than 100 different models and prototypes mainly for the Italian market. Their current models are the Lucchini CN4 designed for hill climbs and their LMP2 prototype for the Le Mans series. The Lucchini in the foreground of the picture above is the P1 with its 24 valve 3 litre Alfa engine and the two behind are similar models but with 12 valve and 24 valve engines respectively.

Lucchini CN4

Sadly Gianni Reggiani died in 2016 at the age of 78 and in his later years was also involved in designing Microlites.

Another car that caught my eye was one of the early Brit sports racing cars fitted with US V8 power was the Attila-Chevrolet that was campaigned in England by Roy Pierpoint.  This was a 1966 Mark 7 model, one of the last of the series. The first Attila, which was a front engined sports car powered by a Coventry-Climax engine, was built in 1962 by the London company Racing Developments run by Mark Perry and former member of the Lotus design team Val Dare-Bryan.

One of the Attila’s arrived in Scotland many years ago bought by Robin Smith who did a lot of racing in the days of Group C2 in the early 1990s.

Robin’s Attila Chevrolet was an early model and at the time Robin’s garage premises were in the centre of Glasgow in one of the archway garages underneath Glasgow Central railway station.  As Robin had a habit of working late into the night and then rolling whatever race car he was working on out into the street and giving it a run. In a hurry to check that the Attila-Chevrolet was running well and about 2.00 am he opened the g arage doors and roared out on to the road alongside the River Clyde and gave it a spin only to be stopped by a policeman. He asked Robin what he was doing and Robin explained he was preparing the car to race at the weekend  and wanted to see the carburation was correct. At this the policeman laughed and said “ Get that bloody thing back to the garage as quick as possible and don’t let me ever see you out on the streets with a racing car”.  I loved those non-politically correct days when policemen had common sense and the World was a less stressed out and accusative place.

The Pierpoint Attila-Chevrolet looking much smarter than it did back in the 1960
The Pierpoint Attila-Chevrolet looking much smarter than it did back in 1960

Earlier in the year when I was in Turin there was an exhibition of new cars at the Italian National Motor Museum and it included a prototype of Gian Paolo Dallara’s first road car. Dallara, today, is probably the largest manufacturer of racing cars in the World as he supplies the chassis for Indycar racing as well as GP2 and GP2 not to menton various sports and Formula cars.

This, however, is a proper road sports car project and at Imola I saw the first one actually road registered and once the rest of the World notices that Dallara now has a road car, the Dallara Stradale,  I think some of the glaring spotlight that has fallen on the McLaren road cars may swerve towards this gorgeous looking car that looks like it has just come off the race grid. Powered by a 2.3 litre Ford engine with over 300 bhp it has no doors and you can specify various options to increase the comfort.

The new Dallara road car
The new Dallara road car