AUTODROMO INTERNAZIONALE ENZO E DINO FERRARI
A lap around Imola is to race against the ghosts of legends who have mastered this unique, beautiful, dangerous, and immensely difficult track. They’ve been racing here since the glory days of Rome and the amphitheatre that stood nearby was where the empire’s greatest chariot heroes would come to win or die on Sunday afternoons. The modern track was opened in the early 1950s and was named, in 1970, in honour of Dino Ferrari, Enzo’s son who died far too young. It added the name of Enzo himself on his death in 1988. Honouring Italy’s most distinguished motoring family is apt because, for many true road racing fans, this is Europe’s purest racing circuit, an incredibly technical place that requires equal doses of skill, courage, and luck. The tragedy of 1994 saw the track upgraded for safety, and in 2008 it was again revised, but neither changes did anything to change the underlying essence of this place. To race here is always a visceral thrill, a tight, dangerous, claustrophobic run and one that doesn’t reveal its secrets easily.
AUTODROMO NAZIONALE MONZA
They call it the Cathedral of Speed and it’s been the home of European motorsport for 100 hundred years—the scene of racing triumphs and tragedies, unforgettable drama, legendary slipstreaming battles, and the closest finishes in racing history. This circuit, built in a park just outside Milan, has an aura and a story that is unmatched by almost any other venue in the world. They have all raced here, the earliest heroes and today’s champions, all have risen to the challenges and dangers of Monza. It began with the thrills posed by the full course and its fabled banked ovals—a test of man and machine so extreme that they gave up on trying to tame it in 1961. That track is now ready for you to race, as is the modern circuit that was rejigged with safety in mind in the mid ’90s. It didn’t change much aside from tightening a couple of corners because Monza will always be Monza—epically fast, heroically dangerous, and endlessly unpredictable.
Tuscany is the home of Mugello, sunshine, vineyards, and idle summer days by the pool. It’s also the scene of a cracking downhill street circuit named Collina Town. Collina means hills in Italian, so you know what you can expect: a really fast, downhill run through beautiful scenery, castles, vineyards, and medieval churches that will be a serious test of your braking skills. This is where rhythm and braking power will pay huge dividends—or big consequences if you get it wrong. Long, winding, and fast, you’re not going to spend a lot of time admiring the vista. Which is a pity because the hills are pretty and alive to the sound of the last of the late brakers…
CIRCUITO DI FIORANO
In the late 1960s, Enzo Ferrari made the decision to build a test track that would, he said, “… test the dynamic behaviour of every car in order to identify every problem. From this moment on, no Ferrari will race the track or address mass-production without passing the Fiorano test.” The track is located right outside the main Ferrari factory and was built to Ferrari’s spec’ in 1972. Given space was an issue, the track was built in a unique figure of 8 configuration and includes almost every type of corner the Scuderia Ferrari is likely to encounter on the track or road. Enzo Ferrari’s home remains near the pit complex to this day, and legend holds that he would watch his drivers practice around this narrow, winding track that requires nothing less than absolute precision to get right.
AUTODROMO INTERNAZIONALE DEL MUGELLO
Rolling through the impossibly serene Tuscan countryside, Mugello is one of Italy’s greatest circuits featuring 14 turns of varying lengths and apexes and requiring multiple angles of attack. They had a street course here way back in the 1920s, but it was only in the ’70s that this permanent facility was built. It was a stunner from the get-go—a series of sweeping bends connected to a kilometre-long straight that will test any driver and car. Not surprisingly, it’s owned by Ferrari who use it for testing their road cars on an almost daily basis. Nowadays it’s known as the home of Italian motorbiking, but it has a rich portfolio of car series too, including the GT championship, single seaters, and touring cars. The high-speed turns here are what makes this place so special. Just ask Mark Webber, who Tweeted in 2012: “Did 10 dry laps today around Mugello, which is the same as doing 1000 laps around Abu Dhabi track in terms of satisfaction.#realtracks #fast”.