Hills Race #16
After missing 3 editions of the most important Drag Racing event in Italy, this year i'm back.
The Hills Race has a long story now and it can be considered the most popular event for drag racing lovers in Italy. In a country that has almost no structures of spaces for this kind of sport a group of friends who shared the same passion decided to use a small airport to host some races and then this idea became bigger and bigger.
Initially the cars were counted in units, then they became tenths and in then in the most succesful editions the racing models were in eccess of 100. Yeah, more than 100 dragster in a country that has almost no knowledge of this universe.
Many teams come from northern Europe (Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden and more) and this partecipation testifies that the Rivanazzano airfield is now part of the places to be when it comes to drag racing.
Being not a permanent track the organizers have to put everything together a couple of days before the start of the firts sessions and then dismantle to make the track suitbale for the airplanes again.
It's a really huge effort: bleachers, tentes, stands, all the paddocks and the services have to be mounted in place and all the members of the staff have a daily job that has to be interrupted in order to make the Hills Race work!
Though modern and contemporary cars are now allowed to the show, Vintage and Nostalgia racers are by far the most intriguing and the most admired subjects at the show.
The never-ending struggle beetween big and powerful american V8s and underdogs Vw flat 4 is always one of the biggest argument: fans on both sides always support their favoutire rides with everything they got.
I have been attending this show for 7 years in a row beetween 2011 and 2016 and its growth was astounding: It has been the only way to get in touch with some of the biggest name in the drag racing scene in all Europe.
I was able to learn almost every i know about this sport just by being there and listen to the speakers and talking to the pilots and mechanics. I think it's way better than finding it on Wikipedia!
The quality of the cars is getting better and better and organizers in first place are investing lot of energy and money in buying new, faster and more professional rides. From muscle cars to hot rods to really bespoke racing vehicles coming from the US!
Every lifted hood is a joy for petrolheads: this tipe of engine has very peculiar carateristics and they're easier to admire because all the parts are way bigger than those you would find on a typical conventional racing car.
Even the communications beetween the drivers and their engineers are a bit more rude than the ones they adopt in Formula 1.
This is a party for eyes, ears and ever for the nose: you won't see, hear or smell anything like this in any other track. It's not a show for the automotive nerds because it's so far from what we are used to that even people who don't give a fuck about cars or races can enjoy a really distinctive experience.
Some models seem to come straight from a retro-futuristic movie or from a comic book. And that's why the surprise is even bigger when you read their speed on the dashboards.
Everything is big, the XXXXL kind of big. And loud. And colorful.
Here the cars are characterised by their names and their relative liveries, not by the color scheme of the sponsors. So a car named after a witch can go wheel to wheel with a car named after the nickname of its creator.
The slinsghot dragsters, or front engine dragsters, were the most common and successful desig n back in the days: they are still among the coolest cars you can see on the track.
The driving position is the closest thing to claustrophobia i can imagine. You are literaly sitting beetween the huge rear tyres over the differential, with a tiny steering wheel that has to be operated with your arms confined in the narrow cockpit. I can't even imagine the feelings when you're close to 300 km/h in a bunch of seconds...
Vintage aircooled Volkswagen are like the opposite in this sort of yin & yang scenery: smaller engines that revs to incredible numbers, super-light chassis and bodies, round and nice shapes.
Period correct full-metal gassers are for sure the most valuable models (like this Strudel Racer from french driver Raphael Caruso i made an article on for Kustom Wolrd 5 or 6 years ago). The engine bays are always a triumph of engineering and tradition, with names like Gene Ber, Empi, Weber signing the most valuable and iconic parts.
The mix beetween harmless form and tremendous speed is something you don't get used to. And every time they put another big smile on your face!
This is the homeland of fat tyres, that are required to transform all the power and loudness into traction. They're designed to warp, twist, and leave big marks in order to keep the car on the ground.
The parking lots are another attraction on their own because many of the enthusiasts that come to attend the Hills Race share the same approach and the same style of those who take part in it so you won't be disappointed when you wander around among the hundreds of Harleys parked near the track.
Even on the 4 wheels side it's possible to find some unique creation like this Beetle merged with a T1 with even a bespoke trailer in the back. The level of finishing and details is absolutely astonishing.
I've always recommended this event to all my friends, even those who are not into motorsport or stuff like this: you won't be able to see Wacky Races - style vehicles with performances out of this world anywhere else if you're born in Italy so be sure not to miss the 2020 edition!