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“Vernasca Silver Flag” - Pure Passion for Motorsport Equally Shared by All


Organized by the Club Piacentino Vintage Automoto, the annual event is celebrated 120 kilometers south of Milan. One could well describe it as a 'dynamic contest' of restoration and conservation of historic racing vehicles.

Vernasca Silver Flag: A Historic Climb

The contemporary “Vernasca Silver Flag” is inspired by the original Vernasca climb dating back to 1953 and then held 17 more times until 1972, before Vernasca Silver Flag picked up the baton in 1994. The 9-kilometer route begins at Castell'Arquato and passes through Lugagnano to end at Vernasca.

© 2018, Unai Ona

Since the Club Piecentino Vintage Automoto revived the event, another 23 editions have already come to fruition. Each year organizers try to enrich the experience by adding activities such as the Classic Track Day, in which the cars can show off in a series of open runs at the Circuito de Varano, granting free entry for the amateur public. This opener is held Friday, to wet the crowd’s appetite. Another attraction are the paddocks at Castell'Arquato (Arda and Europa Square), which too are open to fans.

Saturday it’s time to face the actual hill itself. It is done in two shifts, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The route closes to traffic half an hour before the first launch, making the return along the same road. When observed from a distance, it is a spectacular visual treat to see almost 200 high-caliber classics snaking up a “black ribbon”! the real action takes place in the last 4 kilometers of the route from Castell'Arquato to Vernasca, full of curves, where the participants try to squeeze past a competitor. Although there are no times taken or winners declared, many arrive having been fluttered by oncoming winds!

Sunday morning, the last climb ends with a stop in Vernasca for an exhibition awards ceremony and formal farewell.

Eclectic Participants Welcoming the Public

The participating vehicles are carefully selected by the organizers, ranging from classics built from the beginning of the 20th century to 1972. Cars manufactured beyond that cut-off year are also accepted, but only if they can demonstrate a great track record in competition. This way, spectators get to enjoy vehicles that have participated in the original races, but also those which may have gained their fame at the Mille Miglia, Le Mans, Goodwood or the Nürburgring, among others.

In short, Vernasca Silver Flag is a highly recommended event that has always felt inviting and welcoming. You won’t find the snobbery and expectation of exclusiveness that has spoiled some other international events in Europe; just a lot of raw passion for motorsport that is equally shared by everyone, drivers and visitors alike.

Report and Photos: © 2018, Unai Ona