According to the unwritten rules of heritage motoring, classic cars are supposed to be kept in warm garages, well-maintained and driven accordingly to preserve their value. Precious metal always needs to be preserved for the next generations: only when the weather is forgiving, old cars can enjoy their retirement as a collector's pride and joy.
No doubt about it: classic cars need to be treated with kid gloves, unless we are talking about events like the Goodwood Revival, Festival of Speed and Le Mans Classic. All of these events are a great reminder that cars are born to be cars and no matter how old, they were built to be driven. Regularity races also hold the distinction for being very challenging and attractive to a large number of enthusiasts: those held in the cold days of Winter are among the most prestigious.
The Winter Marathon is a regularity race held mainly at night through the mountain passes of the Dolomites, with cars speeding fearlessly through snow, ice and the rust-friendly salt used to keep the roads safe and frost-free. The Winter Marathon is one of those events that keeps their participants enthusiastic, which is why they are completely devoted to this event and come back every year.
Because of an unspoken rule, all spyders and roadsters participating in the race always go with their top down, increasing the challenge and...the fun!
Starting at 2:30 pm from Madonna di Campiglio, a glamorous location in the heart of the Dolomites, the participants compete almost non-stop until about 2 am when the cars who were able to make it to the end make their return to the start.
The spirit of the participants is not so different from the ones that animate the drivers of Endurance racing: perseverance and resilience are the keys to achieving excellent results.
A regularity race requires precision and going flat-out is not encouraged: each section between each timing stage needs that the driver and co-driver find the proper pace in order to present their car right on time at the various checkpoints.
Porsches are king in this sort of competition: 356 and early 911's dominate thanks to their reliability, sturdiness and never-ending performance. Let's just face it: cars that have made oversteering their philosophy are just infinitely more fun on slippery surfaces!
Despite being a showcase for Porsche-goodness, the winter Marathon is a potpourri of classics: Fiat 1100's, MGB's, Lancia Fulvias and Aprilias and Alfa Giulia Berlinas. Like all regularity races, pre-wars are the cars that cause the most curiosity at the event, with their fragile-looks yet sturdy construction.
The 2017 marathon was won by both Alberto Aliverti and Alberto Maffi with a 1937 Fiat 508C Balilla Siata, who drove flawlessly to achieve their second success at the Marathon. Their old Fiat performed impeccably as it tackled all the special stages on the road and on the iced lake in Madonna di Campiglio without any mechanical failures. Congrats Boys!
While the value of classic cars may be over the top and unjustified, the Winter Marathon is a kind reminder that driving is the true essence of the collector car hobby.
Such an event can be quite an adventurous trip to make with a classic car but when has driving ever been considered a foolhardy task to do?
Jacopo Villa, contributor
Photo credits: Federico Bajetti for The Outlierman © 2017