The Circuito Stradale del Mugello is one of a long list of bygone European street circuit races, though the existence of these contemporaries does not obscure the individuals. Instead, the other competitions, some inspired by and others adopted from, only add to the value of looking back on each distinct event in more context.
This works in a couple of ways. For one, it’s likely that everyone reading this has heard of the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio (and they’ve earned their reputations, this is not about that), but there is a sense of a truly different era that the headliners can’t deliver on their own; when you discover that these types of races were happening all across Italy, not to mention beyond, it reveals the period’s attitude toward the sport more comprehensively.
I think that knowing all about the “big ones” helps to make the lesser-known circuits and hillclimbs and sprints all the more exotic. Each race has its own memorable moments to share, and their combined individual histories make up the overall feeling of excitement and nostalgic fondness for a time of bygone racing—whether we were lucky enough to be around for it in person, or born years later.
In keeping with long stretches of time, runnings of the Street Circuit of Mugello took place across decades—between 1914 and 1970, with a few breaks for world wars and some time on the sidelines after the inherent dangers in these types of races came to a head—and so beyond being part of a legendary crowd, each instance of each race has a history and a future imbued in it when you look at it from the modern day.
Though we’d surely prefer be there to watch these races in person, we do have the consolatory treat of being able to chart the progressions, like Mugello’s; from rocky dirt roads barely fit for horses to Alfa Tipo 33s, Porsche 908s, Ferrari GTOs, Lola T210s, and other machines driven by those whose names are also linked to that period of sports car and prototype racing that seems more and more unreal as we move further away from it, the fully laid out history is a summation of racing’s evolution during one of its more formative periods.
Thankfully there are ways to remember and pass along these stories; events like the modern Gran Premio del Mugello are a tribute to those in the past. And though the likes of Vic Elford, Jo Siffert, and Jochen Neerpasch did not drive in this year’s Gran Prix historic event, the running of such a thing perpetuates the memories, and offers some beyond beautiful sights for those taking part in the event today.
Rosario Liberti was in attendance at the 2017 edition earlier this spring, and the following gallery is a testament to his talent with a camera, and the timeless power of vintage sports cars in Italy—in this case, tracing pieces of a former road racing circuit through Tuscany in cars like these.