Vernasca Silver Flag

2009 - A special celebration featuring the competion cars of the Maserati Brothers


I have just returned from a most enjoyable and memorable trip to Italy, where I attended the 14th Vernasca Silver Flag 'Hill Climb'.

When a member of the Maserati Club here in the UK suggest a weekend trip to Italy to take in this prestigious event, I jumped at the chance. I had visited the area many times as a young lad and was looking forward to see the changes that have taken place, and of course to seize the opportunity of seeing Maseratis and OSCAs doing what they were designed for.

This year the event celebrated the racing cars of the Maserati Brothers, with some 33 Maseratis and OSCAs taking part. Although classed as a hill climb, because the course takes participants over 8.5km of public roads from Castell'Arquarto to Vernasca, the event is non-competitive and participants parade their cars along the course at speed!

The event programme

Among the celebrities to be seen at this year's event were Sir Stirling Moss, Maria Teresa De Filippis and Dott. Alfieri Maserati, the son of Ernesto. Sir Stirling was taking part in this recently restored OSCA FS 372, a most beautiful little car! His car carried the Number 7 of course, and he was greeted enthusiastically by the Italian crowds wherever he went.

Maserati FriendsThere were many "special moments" during the trip. There was the occasion when my little Lancia 'Ypsilon' was overtaken by an enthusiastically driven OSCA Mt4 on the road from Fiorenzuola to Castel'Arquato on the Saturday morning. A great sight! Another, the amiable Sig. Manicardi giving our group a brief history of Maserati just before taking us on an extended guided tour around the Maserati factory. I asked him afterwards why the tour had lasted longer than usual, I had been around the factory before, he just replied: "Because I could see that you were all genuinely interested." And at lunchtime on the Saturday, whilst wandering around the side streets of Castel'Arquarto, we came across a really nice side street restaurant, only to find Sir Stirling Moss with his wife Lady Susie Moss, Maria Teresa De Filippis and Dott. Alfieri Maserati lunching with the event organisers at the table opposite.

However, for me, there two low spots on the trip. The first, my rather stupidly leaving the mobile phone switched off and missing the calls from my friend Claudio, who had come to watch the proceedings with a group of friends. Fortunately Claudio managed to contact me at our hotel and "Enrico (l'inglese)" was able to meet them on the Saturday evening just before the Gala Dinner. The other, failing to recognise my friend, Masato Murakami of the Maserati Club of Japan, who appears in many of my photos as he was standing on the opposite side of the road when I took them. How was I to know he had grown a beard!


Our menu for the Gala Dinner at the Castel'Arquarto

Hotel Zoello 'je suis'Our 5-day extended weekend trip took in a guided tour of the Maserati showroom and factory, lunch in the Piazza Grande Modena, the Silver Flag Gala Dinner and farewell lunch, and visits to the Panini Museum, the Giuseppe Candini Workshop and the workshop of Carrozzeria Campana. A selection of sumptious meals washed down with the best of Lambrusco and the best company anyone could wish for. All in all it was a most memorable trip!

I can't end without mentioning the hotel that we stayed at during our time in Modena. The Hotel Zoello "je suis" at Settecani near Castelvetro is located close to the picturesque hilly area between Modena and Bologna. It is a 3 star family run hotel which has recently been completely refurbished. It now features all the facilities one would normally expect to find in a higher standard hotel. Rarely have I been made more welcome than at this hotel, where the management went out of their way to make us all feel at home.

Having been shown the castle at Castelvetro and its surrounding area, I plan to visit the Modena region, along with my non-Maserati wife, and stay at the hotel later this year. So, if you too are considering a visit to Modena or Maranello, I can't think of a better place to stay!


Maserati: open-air emotions

Modena, July 2nd, 2009.

Maserati open-top models have been the main attraction at two events paying tribute to Maserati's heritage that took place, within a few days, on different continents. They are the fourteenth edition of the prestigious international event "Vernasca Silver Flag", held in the hills near Piacenza, Italy, and the equally famous event "Le Belle Macchine d'Italia" which took place on the race track in Pocono, in Pennsylvania. The renowned Italian race and the spectacular reunion in the United States were dedicated this year to Maserati on the 70th anniversary of the first of Maserati's two wins at the Indianapolis 500 and the 80th anniversary of the first world record set by Maserati. A unique and unparalleled passion on the part of Maserati collectors in Europe and in the United States was on display on these two weekends. Younger generations of collectors, clients and friends of the marque have been contaminated by such a passion, which is precisely the winning recipe of Maserati today: never let its glorious past be covered by dust, invest in it and take inspiration from it to build the future.

For a manufacturer who chose to gain fame on the race track and has, over the years, continued to produce only high performance sports cars, open-top models represent a synthesis of passion, elegance and total driver involvement. Driving a Maserati convertible - spyder or cabriolet - is both a way of experiencing the excitement of driving an open-air barchetta in the guise of the drivers of the golden days of racing, as well as being able to slip along the streets of the world's most fashionable locations, and feel at one with the power being transmitted to the road, the sound of the engine blowing free on the wind.

Absolute protagonist of the Vernasca Silver Flag was the 8CM, once owned by Tazio Nuvolari and now property of the Donington Museum in the United Kingdom. Among the other extraordinary Maserati vehicles featured, a special mention goes to two single-seaters 4CM and two 250F, the car that Juan Manuel Fangio drove to clinch the Formula One world championship for Maserati in 1957.

Taking the wheel of these stunning classic cars were legends such as Sir Stirling Moss, the uncrowned motor racing king of the 1950s and 1960s responsible for extraordinary victories at the helm of Maserati vehicles, as well as the legendary Maria Teresa de Filippis, who in 1958 became the first woman driver to compete in Formula One at the wheel of a Maserati.

In Pocono, the focus of everybody's attention was the 8-cylinder Maserati known as "Boyle Special", which won the Indianapolis 500 in 1939 and 1940, courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, together with the evolution of the 6-cylinder vehicle which, on September 28th 1929, established the flying 10 km land speed record, Maserati's first world record.

Text courtesy of the Maserati Media Center.


An X-ray drawing of the Maserati 450S which I believe is by Giovanni Cavara

Maserati, mito piacentino

Maserati, Piacentine Legend

An article that appeared in the Piacentine newspaper "LIBERTÀ" on Saturday 27th June 2009.

Sono molti gli eventi della storia dell'Automobile legati a Piacenza e al suo territorio: dal Circuito di Piacenza del 1946, che vide la prima uscita ufficiale di una Ferrari, allo stesso Enzo Ferrari che alla Bobbio-Penice vinse la sua ultima corsa da pilota. Ma non solo: a Piacenza nacque Giuseppe Merosi, il primo grande progettista dell'Alfa Romeo. E radici piacentine ha anche un'altra grandissima stirpe di progettisti e costruttori di automobili leggendarie: la famiglia Maserati.

The are many events in the history of the motor car associated with Piacenza and its surrounding area: from the Circuito di Piacenza of 1946, that saw the first official outing of a Ferrari, to the same Enzo Ferrari who at the Bobbio-Penice won his last race as a driver. But not only that: Giuseppe Merosi, the first great designer for Alfa Romeo, was born in Piacenza. And Piacentine roots also have another great family of legendary automobile designers and constructors: the Maserati Brothers.

Il padre e la madre dei quattro fratelli Maserati, Rodolfo e Carolina, erano infatti rispettivamente di San Nicolò e di Sant'Antonio a Trebbia. A San Nicolò si sposarono e fu solamente per motivi di lavoro (Rodolfo Maserati era un macchinista delle Ferrovie) che dovettero lasciare la cascina in Strada della Vignazza e trasferirsi a Voghera dove dal 1881 nacquero i figli Carlo, Bindo, Alfieri, Mario, Ettore e Ernesto che, chi più chi meno, hanno tutti scritto un capitolo storico del motorismo creando un mito che ha segnato l'evoluzione della tecnica e cogliendo vittorie sulle piste di tutto il mondo, primo fra tutti quello a Indianapolis.

The four Maserati siblings' father and mother, Rodolfo and Carolina, were in fact respectively from San Nicolò and Sant'Antonio a Trebbia. They married at San Nicolò, and it was only for work reasons (Rodolfo Maserati was a machinist with the Italian state railways) that they had to leave their home in the Strada della Vignazza and move to Voghera where from 1881 their sons were born. Carlo, Bindo, Alfieri, Mario, Ettore and Ernesto, sons who more or less, have each written a chapter in motoring history, creating a legend that signalled a technical evolution, amassing race victories the world over, most notably that of Indianapolis.

Proprio ai fratelli Maserati e alle loro grandi vetture, cioè Maserati e Osca, il Cpae ha voluto dedicare l'edizione 2009 della Vernasca Silver Flag e tutte le iniziative dell'attuale stagione. Una celebrazione che cade anche nel 70° anniversario della vittoria a Indianapolis (la Maserati è l'unica Marca Italiana ad avere ottenuto questa legendaria vittoria) nell'80° della 16 cilindri, alto capolavoro di ingegneria meccanica, senza contare le vittorie ottenute dalle vetture del Tridente proprio sui tornanti della Vernasca con piloti comè Govoni e Pagliarini.

It is to the Maserati brothers and their great cars, namely Maserati and OSCA, that the Club Piacentino Automoto d'Epoca wanted to dedicate the 2009 edition of the Vernasca Silver Flag and all its events for this season. A celebration that also coincides with the 70th anniversary of the victory at Indianapolis (Maserati is the only Italian marque to have gained this legendary victory), and 80th anniversary of those masterpiece of mechanical englneering, the 16 cylinder V4 and V5, without counting the victories gained by the cars from the Casa del Tridente over the hairpins bends of Vernasca with drivers like Govoni and Pagliarini.

Era il 1926 quando nasceva la prima auto Maserati: era la Tipo 26 (il numero indica l’anno di costruzione). Il motore è un 8 cilindri con compressore Roots, la potenza massima è di 120 cv a 5300 giri/min. Pesa poco più di 700 kg e ha una velocità massima di quasi 200 km/h. Nello stesso anno arrivò la prima importante vittoria: alla Targa Florio Alfieri Maserati, insieme con Guerino Bertocchi, conquistò sulla Tipo 26 la classe fino a 1500 cc. Sopra il radiatore spiccava già il marchio con il tridente, stilizzato da Mario, il fratello pittore, che si era ispirato alla statua del Nettuno della piazza di Bologna.

It was 1926 when the first Maserati car was born: it was the Tipo 26 (the number indicating the year of construction). The engine was an 8 cylinder with Roots supercharger, the maximum power was 120 bhp at 5,300 rpm. It weighed little more than 700 kg and with a maximum speed of nearly 200 kph. In that same year came the first important victory: at the Targa Florio, Alfieri Maserati together with Guerino Bertocchi, captured the up to 1500cc class in a Tipo 26. Already above the radiator grille was the trident badge, designed by Mario, the artistic brother, who was inspired by the statue of Neptune of the main piazza at Bologna.

Già alla fine dell'Ottocento, esattamente 110 anni fa, nel 1899, il primogenito Carlo, appena 17enne, aveva peraltro già costruito il suo primo motore monocilindrico. E nel 1914 Alfieri aveva fondato a Bologna le Officine Alfieri Maserati. Dopo aver prodotto candele d'accensione per l'Aeronautica militare, subito dopo la Prima guerra mondiale si dedicò alla costruzione di auto da corsa, e con una di queste, un telaio Isotta Fraschini con un motore di aviazione Hispano-Suiza modificato, ottenne dal 1922 al 1924 numerosi successi. E due anni dopo, nel 1926 debuttava, vincendo all'esordio, la Tipo 26, prima vettura con il nome Maserati.

Already by the end of the 1800's, exactly 110 years ago, in 1899, Carlo the first-born, hardly 17 years old, had already built his first single cylinder engine. And in the 1914 Alfieri had founded the Alfieri Maserati Workshop in Bologna. Immediately after the First world War, having produced spark plugs for the Italian Air Force, he dedicated himself to the construction of race cars, and with one of these, an Isotta Fraschini chassis with a modified Hispano-Suiza aero engine, obtained from 1922 to 1924 numerous successes. And two years later in 1926, making its winning debut, came the Tipo 26, first car to bear the Maserati name.

Alla morte precoce di Alfieri nel 1932, Bindo, Ernesto e Ettore continuarono l’impresa e Ernesto fu il progettista di tutte le successive auto. Dal 1936 al 1947 l’attività continuò nella stessa azienda, nel frattempo però ceduta alla famiglia Orsi, con i fratelli Bindo, Ernesto e Ettore che rimasero impegnati in prima persona nella progettazione e realizzazione di vetture.

After the premature death of Alfieri in 1932, Bindo, Ernesto and Ettore continued with the enterprise and Ernesto was the designer of all the successive cars. From 1936 to 1947 the activity continued in the same company, in the meantime they had sold out to the Orsi family, with the brothers Bindo, Ernesto and Ettore remaining with the company as designers and constructors of the cars.

Nel 1947, esauritosi il patto di non concorrenza con li Orsi, uscirono dall'azienda e fondarono a Bologna la Osca (Officine specializzate costruzione automobili), poi ceduta nel 1963 alla Mv.

In 1947, at the termination of their non-competition agreement with the Orsi family, they left the company and founded OSCA (Officine Specializzate Costruzione Automobili) in Bologna, then in 1963 they sold out to MV.

L’attività dei fratelli Maserati è sempre stata caratterizzata dai pochi mezzi economici e disposizione ma da una grande capacità tecnica. Erano loro stessi, ad esempio, che disegnavano le carrozzerie. Con una mentalità tutta piacentina tesa ad evitare ogni spreco che permetteva loro di ottenere comunque grandi risultati e di collezionare successi in tutto il mondo. Primo fra tutti quello del 1939 a Indianapolis. La vittoria arrivò con una 8CTF che montava un 3.0 sovralimentato con due compressori Roots e che corse per la scuderia di Michael J. Boyle, detto "Umbrella Mike", boss del più importante sindacato di Chicago e titolare del Boyle racing team. A firmare la vittoria fu il pilota Wilbur Shaw.

The activities of the Maserati Brothers has always been characterized from a lack of economic means and disposition, but also from a great technical capacity. For example, it was they themselves who designed the car bodies. With a typical Piacentine mentality of avoiding any waste, it allowed them to gain great results and collect successes all over the world. First above all that at Indianapolis in 1939. Victory came by way of a 8CTF powered by a supercharged 3-litre engine with two Roots superchargers and that raced for the team of Michael J. Boyle, known as "Umbrella Mike", boss of the most important Chicago crime syndicate and owner of the Boyle racing team. Taking the victory was the pilot Wilbur Shaw.


Resting in the showroom after a factory visit

The group at lunch in the Piazza Grande Modena

A chance to sample the informal atmosphere ...

... of the Parc fermé ...

... where enthusiasts have almost ...

... unlimited access to these very special cars!

Local Maserati Concessionaire 'Motor' at the Silver Flag

In 500 per Maserati!

Roger, Dave, John and Duncan ...

... members of the Maserati Club UK

Enrico wears the Maserati Trophy T-Shirt,
a gift from Team Shamal in Japan. Thank you!

Enjoying Sunday's buffet lunch in the courtyard
of the old parish church (Antica Pieve) at Vernasca

1927 Maserati Tipo 26B


1928 Maserati Tipo 26M Special




1928 Maserati Tipo 4CM


1934 Maserati Tipo 8CM (ex-Tazio Nuvolari)


1934 Maserati Tipo 8CM (ex-Tazio Nuvolari)




1939 Maserati Tipo 4CM


1954 Maserati A6GCS Berlinetta by Pinin Farina


1954 Maserati A6GCS Berlinetta by Pinin Farina

Maria Teresa De Filippis in conversation

1957 Maserati 300S

1955 Maserati A6GCS

1955 Maserati A6GCS


Sir Stirling Moss' 1955 OSCA FS372

Engine of the 1955 OSCA FS372

Engine of a 1955 OSCA FS372

#67 1955 Maserati Tipo 150S

#67 Maserati Tipo 150S (only just made it to the first run!)

#67 Maserati Tipo 150S

1955 OSCA Mt4




1960 OSCA SF 392






1957 Maserati Tipo 300S


1957 Maserati Tipo 450S


1957 Maserati Tipo 450S


1961 Maserati Tipo 61 by Drogo


1960 Maserati Tipo 63





1957 Maserati Tipo 200SI

1954 Maserati Tipo 250F


1956 Maserati Tipo 200S




The oil and petrol tanks of the 200 S




1956 OSCA Mt4 2AD


1954 OSCA 750 S Barchetta by Morelli

1959 Tec-Mec Maserati 250F

1954 OSCA 750 S Barchetta by Morelli


1957 OSCA 1100 S


1956 Maserati Tipo 150S


1957 OSCA 1100 S

1955 Maserati Tipo 150S

1955 Maserati Tipo 150S

1955 Maserati Tipo 150S

1969 Cooper Maserati T51 F1

Maserati Tipo V5

1957 Maserati Tipo 200 SI/250


1961 Maserati Tipo 61 by Drogo

Cockpit of the Maserati Tipo 4CM

1962 OSCA 1600 GT by Zagato

1963 Cooper Monaco Maserati Tipo 61P

1992 Maserati Barchetta



1965 Alfa Romeo TZ by Zagato

1992 Maserati Barchetta




#91 - Maserati Barchetta (didn't make it to the first run!)

Fuel pump problems were fixed in time for the second run!



#59 - Maserati Tipo 26B

#60 - Maserati Tipo 26M Special

#61 - Maserati Tipo 4CM

#62 - Maserati Tipo 8CM

#62 - Maserati Tipo 8CM

#63 - Maserati Tipo 4CM

#64 - Maserati Tipo A6GCS Berlinetta

#65 - Maserati Tipo A6GCS on the second run

#66 - OSCA FS372 (driven by Sir Stirling Moss)

#66 - OSCA FS372 (driven by Sir Stirling Moss)

#67 - Maserati Tipo 150S

#68 - OSCA Mt4

#68 - OSCA Mt4

#69 - Maserati Tipo 150S

#69 - Maserati Tipo 150S

#70 - OSCA Mt4 2AD

#71 - Maserati Tipo 150S

#73 - Maserati Tipo 200S

#74 - OSCA 1100 S

#75 - Maserati Tipo 200SI

#75 - Maserati Tipo 200SI

#76 - Conrero Alfa-OSCA 2000 Barchetta Sport

#76 - Conrero Alfa-OSCA 2000 Barchetta Sport

#77 - Maserati Tipo 200SI/250

#78 - OSCA 750 S Barchetta Morelli

#79 - OSCA SF 392

#80 - Maserati Tipo 300S

#81 - Maserati Tipo 450S

#82 - Maserati Tipo 61 by Drogo

Driven by Giuseppe and Marcello Candini

A Maserati from the Panini Collection

#83 - Maserati Tipo 63

#85 - Tec-Mec Maserati 250F

#86 - Cooper-Maserati T51 F1

#87 - Lotus 18 Maserati F1

#88 - OSCA 1600 GT by Zagato

#89 - Cooper-Maserati T61P 'Monaco'

#89 - Cooper-Maserati T61P 'Monaco'

#90 - Maserati Barchetta

#91 - Maserati Barchetta on the second run

Giuseppe and Marcello Candini in the Tipo 61 ...

... watched by Masato Murakami of the Maserati Club of Japan.

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