- Photo Source: www.metropolitanmagazine.it


So dangerous and so fascinating

Imola Racetrack, or to be precise, "Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola" is one of the best racetracks in the world, not only for its winding and involving corners, but also for its history.


I always knew that there was a racetrack in Imola, where Ayrton Senna died, but I fell in love when I saw Top Gear (S18 - E01). Three supercars, one of those was a Lamborghini Aventador (my absolute favourite supercar), roaring on this special track, simply it was a paradise. From that moment I started to make some researches about this curious track, and then I always choose it in racing games. Maybe thanks to its strange layout, or maybe for the memories from my favourite car show, I enjoyed Imola more than any other track on race simulators like Assetto Corsa or Project Cars

A few months ago I went there to see the Italian round of World SBK championship, I always dreamt to be there, and finally when my uncle did the last turn I saw the Rivazza Hill with the Acerbis banner in the distance I felt my heart stopping, finally I was there.

Rivazza Corners, photo taken by me

Rivazza Corners, photo taken by me

Than we reached the gates on the top of Rivazza hill, to enter at Rivazza lawn, when I finally faced the great and famous Rivazza corners a little tear came down my eyes, carefully cealed under my sunglasses, silently I stood there thinking "here I am...my beloved Imola Racetrack, just in front of me". I could feel the heritage of the track, and I could imagine Clarkson Hammond and May zooming trough the corners as they did on Top Gear...simply magic, than I started to explain to my uncles and my dad that on Rivazza Corner Hammond lost the control of his Noble and went into the gravel, I explained also that Clarkson's brake became red hot. After that we discussed about braking zones, and racing lines. But that's another story, if you want to know more about it there's the link


In 1946 there was an idea to build a road near the Santerno river, but the quantity surveyor Alfredo Campagnoli decided, along with his collauges Tonino Noè, Ugo Montevecchi and Graziano Golinelli, to create a racetrack for motorsport events instead. This project caught the attention of Checco Costa (Moto Club Imolese chairman) and Gualtiero Vighi (Moto Club member and racing rider), together they founded the ESTI (Ente Sport e Turismo Imola) to carry out the design and the construcion. ESTI chairman Tommaso Maffei Alberti asked Enzo Ferrari to help them in the design of the track, so Ferrari sent Maserati brothers. The final goal before the actual building was the CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee) approvation in 1950.

The track was christened with its first motorsport event with the first edition of "Coppa d'oro Shell" on the 25th of April 1954. This competition was created by Checco Costa for 250, 350 and 500cc morotbikes.


The track was modified about 9 times before the actual layout (established in 2009), this changes were made to slow the cars and the bikes down, in fact the track is really dangerous, it's narrow (only 9 meters wide), close to the walls and it has some fast bits, don't forget that it's also built on Emilia-Romagna's hills. An example of a chenge is the Variante Tamburello, this chicane was introduced after Senna's death in 1994.

Photo Source: www.wikipedia.org

Photo Source: www.wikipedia.org

VARIANTE ALTA, VARIANTE BASSA, VARIANTE DEL TAMBURELLO AND VARIANTE VILLENEUVE are variants from the original track to slow the cars down and to add a bit of challenge for the drivers. Variante Bassa is used only in Motorbikes' competitions.

TOSA, PIRATELLA, ACQUE MINERALI were names of roads or sights linked to create the track, so the corners inherited these names

RIVAZZA corners are named after the hill on which they were built.

Acque Minerali Corner, photo taken by me

Acque Minerali Corner, photo taken by me


The first F1 race an this track took place in 1963 won by Jim Clark on his Lotus 25, but the most known and the most dramatic Grand Prix was the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, a weekend full of crashes, two of them caused the death of the driver.

Photo Source: www.formula1.it

Photo Source: www.formula1.it

Friday, 29th April, Free Practise session, Rubens Barrichello crashed the way out the Variante Bassa, due some injuries doctors declared him unfit to race

Saturday, 30th April, Qualifyng session, Roland Ratzenberger's front wing broke down and his Simtek crashed at Variante Villeneuve's corner, the driver died, the whole world was shocked by this event, some drivers were scared to race, but unfortuntely the race wasn't cancelled.

Sunday 1st May, Race, on the 7th lap, Ayrton Senna's Williams hit Tamburello's barriers at tremendous speed, for the Brazilian driver died a few hours after the crash in hospital

After this tragic Grand Prix were added two chicanes at Tamburello and Villeneuve corners and also Acque minerali was modified.

The 2003 GP is known for the emotional victory of Michael Shumacher after his beloved mum's death

F1 left Imola racetrack in 2006



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Comments (17)

  • This is great writing and photography. I want more!

      2 years ago
  • Will never forget that day in 1994.

      2 years ago
  • Bel lavoro,brava

      2 years ago
  • Imola is my favorite track in Assetto Corsa, I envy you )))

      2 years ago