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Editorial | The legend of the Parma kartdrome

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It happens all over the world, wherever one athlete challenges another or challenges himself in the pursuit of a dream. It happens where a team comes together in a pre-match circle, whether in an anonymous courtyard on the edge of town or at the stadium before the World Cup Final.

It happens where a child sprints from the front door to the garage, or where two cars struggle wheel to wheel in the last Grand Prix of the season. A subtle thread ties all these places together, made of sweat, effort, heavy breathing and hearts pounding. A thread that binds every story, leading those of us who can’t forget the force of a passion to the grounds that in time will be hallowed. It’s there, then, that the threads of destiny inevitably come together, producing the magic of an immortal story.

It’s a strange alchemy, difficult to explain, made of many elements which, in time, redefine a simple place and transform it into a “temple.”
It happens in the streets of Monte Carlo, once a year, when intersections and sidewalks are transformed into turns we know by heart, a one-of-a-kind theatre of accomplishments that there, and only there, are worth twice as much.
It happens whenever boxing gloves clash in the ring at Madison Square Garden. When a yellow ball kicks up off the grass at Wimbledon.
Every sport has its sacred sites, forged by the stories written there, by the memories that will never, ever, call anywhere else home, by the men who have branded their names into those structures with an invisible fire. And from this point of view, it isn’t blasphemous to think that even places like this don’t last forever. Some say that too much marketing kills the poetry; but maybe that’s simply another rule of the game. Because in a hundred years, the modern venue that today seems so cold and unfeeling will have become a “temple” in its own right. Other men will have written other pages of legend; other myths will have found new homes. Today, of course, it’s incomprehensible. Today it inspires sadness and melancholy, but if you think about it, every genuine story, in order to become one, needs to have an end. Even the most gripping book needs a last page. Even the most award-winning film needs the words “The End” to unleash the audience’s applause. Even if it’s painful and, sometimes, makes you want to cry.

One half of the track is still in place, as it was cutted by a knife blade. To one side the tattered memories of the story. On the other one a mall.

Like the Americans did when Yankee Stadium played host to its last show. Or like those who at Wembley, in 2003, knew they were witnessing the demolition of a myth that the new super-stadium bearing its name would never be able to replace.
And, sure, people cried at the Parma Kartdrome, too, when the karts lined up for the last time and the bulldozers tore down what, in the karting world, is and will remain a “temple.”
The story begins in 1961. And even the debut was legendary. Because the inauguration was graced by the presence of actors Fernandel and Gino Cervi, who were in the area shooting the film "Don Camillo and Peppone". The circuit measured 450 metres and was a sort of exclusive club controlled by the “big shots” of the time. It was active mainly in the evening, when people congregated to gamble and enjoy themselves, irrespective of the track.
“I was poor,” recalls Mr. Pellegrini, the venue’s long-time manager, “but I managed to compete in the first race with the sponsorship of a local cleaning company. That’s how I began travelling the world, even if everything was in the hands of the rich proprietors. They would arrive in the evening, watch a few private races and then maybe take an airplane and go have their coffee in Rome. Or else end up in a night club and, when it closed at 3 a.m., go race their cars along the winding roads outside the city.”
Which might be why the track didn’t last long and bankruptcy was soon declared. In 1967 the right opportunity presented itself to the Pellegrini family.

Let's walk again a part of Parma's track. Like it is today. Remembering how it once was.

An almost surreal silence, debries and bad asphalt. But the original corners are still there!
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