JANUARY 4, 2010
A street race in Rome
Maurizio Flammini says that he has an agreement with the Formula One group to host a street race in Rome. He says that the circuit has yet to be defined but that the race will happen. It will not be in place of Monza, but rather will be a second Italian event. It is not clear how this will be fitted into the calendar but it will not happen until 2012 and so by then it is likely that the race in Istanbul will be gone and it could replace that.
Rome boasts about 100,000 visitors a day and the city claims around 36m visitor/nights in hotels each year. The local tourist authority does not agree and says that the number is really only 20m. This would explain why the city feels the need to boost its numbers. The plan appears to be to "do a Melbourne" and use the existing Esposizione Universale Roma (EUR) district. This area was previously used for racing in the late 1920s. The Rome Grand Prix in fact dates back to 1925 when Carlo Masetti won a race of that name on a circuit at Monte Mario. There were other venues tried before the races ended up on an eight-mile street track around the area now known as EUR. This was known as the Tre Fontane circuit, and its celebrated events were won by Louis Chiron in 1928, Achille Varzi in 1929 and Luigi Arcangeli in 1930. The event moved on but died out for most of the 1930s before being revived post-war at Caracalla and Castelfusano and ultimately from 1963 onwards at Vallelunga.
The Tre Fontane district was substantially modified in the 1930s with the construction of EUR, which was designed by Benito Mussolini as the venue of a planned exhibition to celebrate 20 years of Fascism in power (which would have been in 1942). The war meant that the exhibition never took place although the district remains a tribute to Fascist architecture. The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, says he is not a fascist but when he was elected in 2008 it was rather embarrassing for him when his supporters began chanting "Duce! Duce!" (the name used by Mussolini) and raised their arms in the old Fascist salute.
The plan seems to be to use sports grounds along the Via Tre Fontana at the northern end of EUR for the paddock area.
The race fits in with the general trend of taking racing to the people, rather than hoping that people will travel to the races. The area is served by the Metropolitana di Roma underground system, which will reduce the need for spectators to use cars and thus have a big effect on reducing the carbon footprint of the event.
All things considered, it is a great idea — particularly if it does replace the Istanbul race, which is a waste of time and money for all concerned.
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