The Mille Miglia 2018 has not yet started but it has already begun to inspire great emotions. On Monday we met Francisco and Humberto, two Mexican drivers who had contacted us some time ago because they were on the quest for some “stylish equipment” suitable for the elegant but at the same time adrenalin-filled atmosphere of the “most beautiful race in the world”, which they will be participating in for the very first time this year on board an extraordinary 1956 Lancia Aurelia B24 Convertible.
Collecting the car was the ideal occasion to get to know these two characters in person, hand over their travel bags and accessories, their driving gloves and The Portrait square scarf that they requested (matching the colours of the Aurelia, you see) and get them to tell us what inspired them to drive all this way to join the Freccia Rossa.
A flight of over 12,000 miles from Mexico to Italy, to then race another Thousand in a vintage car. Besides pure passion, is there another reason?
For the beauty and the intensity, the Mille Miglia always provides a certain charm and rare lessons which come from nature, from the richness of the backgrounds, from the interesting lives of the drivers and co-drivers that take part in it. And from the cars, too, of course. The Mille Miglia is a symbol of Italian excellence throughout the world.
A crew united above all by a friendship?
Yes, absolutely. We are two friends with one profession, many interests and origins in common: both architects, sons of architects, Mexicans and on board a stupendous 1956 Lancia Aurelia.
But where did this shared passion for motor racing and Italy come from?
Francisco "Pancho" López Guerra: I inherited it from my father, who passed away when I was only 15 years old. He was a man who was always surrounded by Italian friends and business partners, like Rino Ricossa, my godfather; Piero Taruffi, who ran the Carrera Panamericana and, when he arrived in Mexico with his go-kart, always had lunch at our house in Cuernavaca; or the Commander Orlando Crotti, who once came to pick me up from Portofino as if I were an adored godson.
The Mille Miglia has been a recurring theme in my life, and now I’m such an enthusiast that it is has even become a part of my job. But participating in the race is also a way to honour the memory of my father. Two generations – father and son – will be united in a project in which experience is the content and nature is the container. Exactly like in architecture…
Exactly, because in a vintage car, the design is anything but secondary...
Humberto "Tinaco" Artigas: I am also a real race enthusiast and son of a great architect and driver. My father loved the sophistication and elegance of English cars to the point where he managed to acquire one of the most significant collections of Jaguars in the world.
I inherited his same passion for the classics, together with that for architecture. I started working alongside him, learning from him how to breathe in the atmosphere of the architect’s studio and learning the “know-how” like a skilled carpenter or an expert wine-grower does: by observing the Master. I believe that it is the crafting and traditional qualities and the details that make architecture interesting and a car iconic: and that’s what I love about the cars of the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. The years of change.
You’ll be driving a classic car made in Italy... Is there anything in particular that binds you to Italian style?
Francisco "Pancho" López Guerra: the four-leaved clover is the symbol of my life. Losing my father and then shortly after that, also my mother, soon taught me how harsh and painful the adversities of life can be. Then, one day I found a real Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover emblem) among my father’s things, because he had owned an Alfa Romeo and he was among the first to encourage imports of the brand into Mexico. It was like a sign.
Later on I discovered the story of the great Italian driver Ugo Sivocci. He was the very first person to ask for a green four-leaf clover to be painted on the grille of his car before a competition. When he died, in his honour, the Italian car manufacturer adopted the four-leaf clover as a symbol of recognition of his high performance sporting vehicles. The Quadrifoglio reminds me that in order to win any competition you always need to make that extra sacrifice. And that’s what I always try to do.
Gentleman, it was a real honour to meet you and get to know you and it will be a real pleasure to see you enrich the history of the Mille Miglia with your stories, memories, emotions, inspirations and personal visions.
Have a good race caballeros!
Photo credits: Federico Bajetti for The Outlierman © 2018