My racing history continues with the story, telling of my father’s gift when I had graduated from high school. I was to participate with the Henry Morrogh’s Racing School at the Magione racetrack.
It was the summer of 1992 and I had to drive a single-seater racing car for the first time! Obviously for me it was all beautiful and I faced that experience with my maximum concentration.
It had started at the beginning a bit of theory, they explained things to me that were understandable like the race line, the braking points, the gearbox, and also new and interesting things like sett-up, the function of the anti-roll bars. Also the heel and toe necessary for shifting down without a synchromesh gearbox.
We had a nice fleet of cars, all powerful and fancy cars, except for one that I didn’t understand why it was there, an old Autobianchi Bianchina.
And then there were the training single-seaters, namely the Formula Ford Kent 1600. They were cars a bit strange; I understood why they were the right cars for the school and why they were the best cars for training young drivers.
Once the theory was over, I began to feel the adrenaline rush for my first time with a single-seater, a real racing car!!!
I listened to everything and everyone; I was tense and focused while waiting for my turn. The first exercise consisted of driving down a straight at a low number of engine revs and changing gears correctly; I said to myself, easy!
After getting into the car and sitting inside the cockpit, I felt sitting very low, I only saw forward in depth and the upper part of the front wheels in addition to the rev- counter and a few lights on the dashboard.
Concentrating with overalls, helmet and gloves, I was ready. In front of me the mechanics, I then pushed the button and the car went into motion. Everything vibrated, the rear-view mirrors vibrated to the point that I couldn’t see anything, but the emotion was unbelievable. I pushed the throttle and the engine’s revs went up, the vibrations changed, maybe even I was starting to adapt but in any case it was time to engage the First gear and go.
First gear did not enter? The gear lever, just a piece of iron attached to the inside of the cockpit on the right side was difficult to move, it was very hard. So they explained to me that to facilitate the entrance of the gear I should have left the gear in neutral, remove the clutch and try again. Finally the first gear has entered and I was ready to go.
I took great care not to turn off the engine; I didn’t want to look bad!!! I started and my career soon begun.
After a small acceleration I engaged second gear and then third and so on, after every meter I felt more and more at ease and relaxed until I had to go down the gears. Here, the problems started again, because I had to do the heel and toe in the best way to facilitate the engagement of the lowest gear.
At the end of the first exercise, I continued to visualize in my mind the whole process, how and when to enter the gear, how to downshift and I tried to observe others to absorb as much information.
My instructor tells me to follow him for a ride in the car with him, and I see that he takes Bianchina. Disappointed, I ask him why, and he answers me: because even Bianchina has an unsynchronised gearbox!!!
He sits in the driving seat, I am next, and he begins with the explanation; he shows me how to do the double clutch to move up a gear and how he performed the double clutch and heel and toe to downshift the gears.
So I sat in the driver’s seat and started. I did the gear changes very slowly to remember all the steps and, when it was good, no noise, when I was wrong the scratching change! That was the signal that I had done something wrong. From that moment on I tried and tried again with any car until the manoeuvre became automatic.
In the following days we started to run on the entire track, getting to know the car in general and the track. At each session we increased the pace and also improved the lap times.
We have done many exercises, and the most intriguing was to create a controlled oversteer at a hairpin. It was fascinating to understand everything about this exercise and also why they made it. I remember with pleasure when I was able to make beautiful oversteers and also the compliments that my instructors gave me, divers like Vincenzo Sospiri and Gianluca Caldani.
The last day we would have run without any limitation, I was entirely focused! Everyone else was calm and relaxed, ate regularly at lunch and everything seemed to be a game; it wasn’t for me! I have memory of how little I ate for lunch because in the afternoon we had the last timed session and I wanted to go very well.
In silence I put on the balaclava, helmet and then the gloves, then I sat in the car and had my belts fastened; I asked to tighten them to the maximum, I almost couldn’t breathe as they were so tight, I wanted to hear the car, I wanted to be one with it.
Started the session and drove very well! Like a hammer, lap after lap I make the best lap time and with personal satisfaction and with Henry Morroghs compliments, this magnificent experience with a single-seater ended.
Henry Morrogh, took me aside and said to me: Giorgio, you are very good! You’re fast, you’ve improved a lot during the course and this is very significant, when you want to run in some of the Italian Championship races, call me and I’ll give you one of my cars! I was trembling and I rejoiced smiling with great satisfaction.
During the year 1993, I also began attending the University at the Faculty of Economy, I was racing with Karts and then one day the idea of approaching car races was born. So I contacted Henry Morrogh and he told me that I could take part in the last races of the Championship that took place in Magione and Vallelunga.
The decision to start racing with Henry Morrogh’s cars, the Formula Ford Kent 1600 was taken because these car teach!
This car is the best ever for the training of young drivers having all the typical features of the most popular single-seaters. Briefly, the Formula Ford Kent 1600 is a car with a tubular chassis, a 1600cc normally aspirated Ford engine, a Hewland non-synchromesh gearbox, sculpted tyres that can be used in all weather conditions. Learning to drive a car like this means getting serious about moving to the higher categories.
The debut took place at Magione circuit. After some free practice sessions, my times improved continuously, at the end they were in line with the times of the best drivers of the Championship and this was for me already the first great satisfaction. Then qualifying session: Second best lap time and starting on the first row. The following day came the race. The adrenaline, the emotions, everything was beautiful and exciting and 2nd place at the finish line in the first race representing an important start.
The next race at the Vallelunga circuit saw me again in 2nd place at the finish line and for the last Championship race at Magione circuit I crossed the finish line in 3rd place.
These results allowed me to finish with only 3 races out of 10, 5th place in the overall championship standings, and the awarding of the prize recognized by the weekly magazine Autosprint as the most promising driver, a prize given to me by Nicola Larini, Ferrari test driver.
Henry Morrogh, at the end of the Championship proposed me to participate for the 1994 season in the British Formula Ford 1800 Zetec Championship with the Olympic Motorsport Team.