Giro di Sicilia Storico

Many of the 150 entrants on the seventh Giro Storico left Palermo by ferry, and were therefore not incommoded by the Mafia’s blowing up of the Palermo autostrada on May Day to celebrate the appearance in court of 40 of their brethren the next day.

The circuit itself started on Thursday April 27 at 10pm, whence competitors (in cars from 1922 to 1979) set off at minute intervals for a night regularity stage to Citta del Mare, a resort on Sicily’s north coast. Unlike the in-earnest events of the past, the 1995 Giro followed the coast all the way round the island, passing just downwind of Etna on Saturday afternoon. The volcano’s blue touch-paper remained happily unlit. The earlier Giros included Etna in their 1000km itinerary, but left the coast for a visit to the island’s centre of gravity at Enna. The “Storicos”, though, have stuck firmly to the periphery, where most of Sicily’s nearly 5m inhabitants live.

One of the Giro’s more venerable entries was Humphrey Avon’s 1924 Speed Six Bentley, which had done its bit for global warming by being driven the 700 miles from England, and which went home with a few trophies to encourage it to come again. There were a couple of Bugatti T37s from 1925/26 running on Swiss plates, plus a most elegant T57 Atlantique. The vast majority of the entry was of Italian provenance, ranging from trio of Fiats 500 to a Fiat Dino 2400 Spyder. The Beautiful People who tend now to come out to destroy their cars on the Mille Miglia seemed mainly to have stayed away from Sicily.

The marking system relied totally on the last 50 metres before a control, at the end of which a rubber pipe connected to a Member of the Federation of Italian Chronometrists had to be crossed with the front wheels on the hundredth of the second. The Italians seemed more practised at this art — they took 34 of the first 36 places.

The V C C Panormus ran the event impeccably, and put on a particularly agreeable event considering its membership of a few hundred souls and the potential pitfalls with which the organiser of any event in Sicily is surrounded. The oranges were superb, too.