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Bernina Gran Turismo 2020

Pictures and Words by Luca Bühler

The world is full of motorsport events: road-track races, more and more frequent concours of elegance, exclusive static exhibitions of classic cars reserved to the lucky fews who have an invitation… and then there’s the Bernina Gran Turismo! The recipe to make this event so unique and exceptional is simple. Let’s find out.

Take an event like the Goodwood Revival, retro-cars and period correct costumes, and a concours of elegance of a certain quality, as can be that of Villa d’Este, on the shores of Lake of Como. Mix all the pro’s in a single small-but-big event, characterized by a much more intimate and friendly atmosphere, where the barrier between riders and enthusiasts does not exist.
Now add a handful of dream cars. Motorsport icons, unique and priceless samples, racing jewels that have made history and won throphies. Some newer supercars and a group of gorgeous crazy men with their vintage motorbikes. And finally legendary characters, such as Arturo Merzario (class of 1943), F1 driver who is not even thinking to hang up his helmet – and his iconic cowboy hat.

Place this mix in one of the most beautiful regions of the Swiss Alps, among the Poschiavo Valley and Engadina, taking care to choose the season that most enhances it, the first days of autumn, with its warm colors and mild climate. Now let the cars run like hell up and down the Bernina Pass, a road which needs no introduction: its wide track, the smooth asphalt, some wide and fast turns and a breathtaking scenery make it one of the most beautiful to attack seating behind a steering wheel. Last but not least, wrap it up with the warmth of the audience for all the three days of the event, and you’ll get the inimitable Bernina Gran Turismo!

The 2020 edition has been a success, like the previous ones. Especially for taking place during this global health crisis, thanks to the efforts and the will of the organizing committee that has been able to take care of every detail, ensuring a pretty normal experience, in spite of the situation. The extraordinary restrictions did not prevent the spectators from coming numerous along the raod to admire the cars running this uphill climb race, if we call it a race.

In fact, the cronometer and the classification are just a pretext: there’s not really a competition spirit, the core of the event is the passion for motorsport, and the sharing of it. In the paddock at the Bernina Hospice, after the finish line, you can smellan gasoline aroma, the scent of history. You can laugh and joke with everyone, hearing an English with a thousand accents, between a set-up of the car and another, while the older cars “mark” the territory.

You can of course talk of the weather, this year a positive surprise. I’m chitchatting with Arturo Merzario among his runs, and he tells me: “What a cold air this morning!”. “Well, that was not so cold!”, I reply to him, recalling the last editions, with their foggy and wet Sundays I ask if he’s enjoying the drive: he silently answers just looking at me, smiling for a couple of seconds. Then, like every professional driver he politely reply: “It’s stil essentially a job”.

the Soulful Driver

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