11th June: Elio de Angelis Classic Team Lotus Celebration @ 59 Coppa Intereuropa Monza
Classic Team Lotus remembers Elio de Angelis with 81T and 91T cars
Back in March of this year, I received an email from Andrea Gallignani who was a good friend of Elio’s and whom I have been in contact with since I started the Tribute to Elio de Angelis website in 1999. Andrea explained that he was putting together a tribute to Elio for the de Angelis family at the 59 Coppa Intereuropa at Monza with the help of Classic Team Lotus and Elio’s former friends, and he wanted to know if I would be interested in attending.
– It didn’t take me long to accept!
And on the 4th of June accompanied by my wife, I made the panoramic trip from Zurich to Monza via the 6.20 Cisalpino Train full of anticipation and excitement.
We arrived in Monza to cloudy overcast skies, and with the threat of rain looming made our way into the Paddock. This was my first time at Monza, and I was struck by the sheer size of the place (for those of you who don’t know, it is located in the middle of a very large park). I couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of nostalgia as I considered the footsteps of all those famous drivers who had graced this arena of Motor Racing.
Arriving in the bustling Lotus pit I was warmly greeted by Fabiana, Elio’s sister, who along with Andrea had played a significant part in organising the event. I was then introduced to some illustrious guests, the gracious Don Sergio Mantovani, and drivers Emanuelle Pirro and Beppe Gabbiani who would drive the Lotus cars later that day. The sight of the two Lotus cars, the 81 and 91T was a sight to behold – gleaming and sleek just as they were back in the early 1980’s.
Then followed a poignant moment; the pit garage had been visited by John Gentry, who was Elio’s race Engineer at Brabham. As John recalled his time working with Elio, he was clearly still visibly upset by the tragic circumstances of Elio’s loss, but was quickly comforted by family and friends in a show of unified support during a time of remembrance.
At 14:00 hours the tribute parade was scheduled to start; Beppe Gabbiani was scheduled to drive the type Lotus 81T and Emanuele Pirro the 91T. I made my way to the Monza podium, where a short presentation to the de Angelis family followed along with a few words of thanks from Elio’s mother Pina.
Shortly afterwards the Cosworth engines burst into life as firstly Beppe, then Emanuele left the Monza pitlane….
It truly was a fantastic day. One that I’d been waiting for pretty much all my life, to get the chance to see 2 of Elio’s cars in action and actually meet Elio’s family and friends was more than I’d ever dreamt possible. My sincere thanks to Andrea Gallignani and Fabiana de Angelis for making this an unforgettable day.