Wachusett Run

Hi, I'm Carlo the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth. I joined Scuderia Walker-Anderson two years ago and since then have gotten to know my owners, Peter and Meg, and my mates, Tazio the 1977 Alfa Spider and Johnny the 2006 Mini Cooper (Johnny hates the term Scuderia; he prefers: stable, squad, or fleet).

My life the last two years has consisted mainly of driving around the Boston suburbs, driving in to Boston itself, and occasional trips to western Massachusetts. But I long for more exciting adventures, especially to show what I can do on the traffic-free back roads of the Berkshires or—even better—on a race track. Even though I can go much faster, have much more horsepower, and make much more exciting sounds, Tazio the Spider always seems to get the nod for these kinds of driving adventures. It was Tazio that got to drive around Thompson Race Track last June; I laughed bitterly when I learned that the skies had opened up and that Tazio's convertible interior had been deluged while Peter rushed to close the top on the side of the track's straightaway. Tazio is always the preferred vehicle for warm sunny-day or moonlit-night jaunts on windy back roads in the Berkshire hills or on Cape Ann. Tazio—not me—was even driven last July all the way to Montreal, getting to visit the Green Mountains, the White Mountains, the shores of Lake Champlain, and a windy country road along the banks of the northern end of the Connecticut River. And it's always Tazio who goes on AONE events, including even Tutto Italiano and Tutto Lite.

Not only that, but Peter gives Tazio all kind of loving care. We've only one garage space, and Tazio always occupies it. Tazio even gets his own special car cover while in the garage, while I have to stay outside in the driveway, without even a car cover (Johnny the Mini Cooper also stays outside, but he has a custom-fitted, all-weather car cover). Peter himself changes Tazio's motor oil three times a year and other fluids once a year; Johnny and I get sent to strangers. When he washes Tazio, Peter does it by hand, but he takes me to a coin-operated machine. The only thing Peter does for me is to take off my high-performance Pirelli tires each December and put on me a set of snow tires that aren't even my right size and on rims that don't look half as good. And then I get driven through salt and snow, while Tazio stays snug inside that garage until the salt gets washed away in the spring.

But this week was the Wachusett Run, and things were different. Peter and Meg had planned to spend the Friday night before the start of the Run in a nearby motel, so that they would not have to get up super-early Saturday to reach the starting point at the base of Mount Wachusett in time. But that Friday, thanks to the recent hurricanes, the weather in our home town of Beverly was nasty. And the forecast predicted that the sun wouldn't come out until Saturday afternoon. So Peter and Meg decided to travel in me late Friday out to their motel. Yippee! I would get to drive the tour! And what a time I had!

First of all, Saturday morning dawned on a beautiful, dry day. I was going to get to enjoy the tour in optimum conditions. And the other cars, all thirteen of them, were like me, Italian: five 1980s Alfa Spiders (the 1984 of Bob Rupp and Barb Smith, the 1986 of Bill Migliore and Tom Letourneau, the 1988 of tour organizers Deb and Dan Donovan, and two 1987 models, one belonging to Roberta and John Rowntree and the other to Marco Di Martino and Humberto Di Martino), two 1974 Spiders (one belonging to John and Lauren DeWaele and the other to Tom Freiberger), a 1994 164LS (driven by Frank LaSala and Mary Demers), a 1967 Giulia Sprint GT (driven by Mike Hollinger), a 2016 4C Spider (driven by Gene and Judy Durso), and three almost brand-new 2017 Alfa Giulia sedans (a white one belonging to Robert Rook and Adrien Sipos, a grey one belonging to Dave and Vi Pratt, and a blue one belonging to Greg and Andrea Stidsen). Some of the Giulias were a little reluctant, at first, to accept me as anything other than a poor relative.

"You're not an Alfa," one of them said.

"Ah," I replied, "but my engine is used in several Alfa models sold currently in Europe, though not in the US."

One of the Alfa Spiders sneered: "But those aren't really Alfas, anyway; there hasn't been a real Alfa, except the 8C Competizione, since Fiat took over and made all the cars front-wheel drive."

"Hey, watch what you're saying!" the 164LS shouted back.

"But you're not even made in Italy; you were built in Mexico," another of the cars interjected. To that I replied that in these days of global suppliers, the location of final assembly hardly matters. And I shut up the new Giulias by asking them how come they didn't have a clutch pedal. The 4C scrutinized me but remained respectfully silent. So I stayed quiet and did not ask him why he doesn't have a gear shift lever, while I do.

When I started up my engine and we all took off on the Run, I heard one car saying: "Listen to the racket he's making; what a show-off!" But the 4C chose to interject at this moment: "You're just jealous. That's what the engine of an Italian sports car is supposed to sound like, and you wish you could sound half as cool. And come to think of it, Carlo's engine is just a smaller version of mine, so whoever wants to mess with him, is going to have to answer to me!"

I was really grateful to the 4C for standing up for me, and I regretted that we didn't get to travel next to each other; the 4C had to "ride shotgun" at the back of our line of Italian beauties. But thanks to the 4C's warning, the other cars stopped sneering at me. And they began to show some real respect when I punched it a few times pulling out from a stop sign. After that we all got along nicely.

And so I began to enjoy myself very much: not only could I admire the other Italian cars in our group but appreciate also the lovely countryside through which we were touring. There were lakes, farms, fields, forests, and hillside vistas. There was very little other traffic. And some of the roads had smooth blacktop, and they all had a variety of slower and faster corners in which I could exercise my high-performance tires. Now this was grand touring!

We travelled through a number of villages that I had never seen before: Princeton, Rutland Center, Spencer, Oakham, New Braintree, Hardwick, Gilbertville, West Brookfield, and Brookfield until we finally reached Sturbridge. Some of the roads upon which we drove were numbered highways: 67, 32, 9, and 20. But others are only known by their names: Browning Pond Road, Utley Road, Wine Road, Upper Church Road (with high stone walls centuries old), Ragged Hill Road (past Ragged Hill Orchard), and Lake Road, where there was no lake, though there was Quaboag Pond.

All too soon the driving fun came to an end in Sturbridge, at the Publick House. There was a big parking lot with lots of uninteresting cars, but we found an area where we could line ourselves up all together. I parked at the left end of our line, since "Abarth" comes before "Alfa" in alphabetical order. Our drivers and passengers all went inside the Publick House for an hour or two. Then they came out one-by-one or in small groups and gradually drove off in their cars. But we had enough time to say good-bye and to express the hope that we'd all get to tour together again soon.

When I got home, I didn't want to hurt the feelings of Tazio the Spider or of Johnny the Mini Cooper, so I didn't tell them how nice an outing I had had or how lovely the weather had been in the Mount Wachusett to Sturbridge area that Saturday. But I did tell Tazio that with his low ride height and even lower sump guard he was lucky that he didn't have to worry about banging the bottom of his oil pan on a few of the bumps we crossed.

Still, Tazio got to stay the night in the garage, while I was left outside in the driveway. And the next day, Peter spent some time checking Tazio's fluid levels before putting the car cover back on Tazio.

But don't feel bad for me. I had a great time on the Wachusett Run. Now I'm hoping that the weather this next Friday will also be lousy so that Peter and Meg will have to take me instead of Tazio out to western Massachusetts and use me for the Fall Sortie. There's a blue 1972 GTV and a Giulia Super 1300 (with a hot 2-litre engine in it) that I think I could teach a few tricks to. A few of my big-brother 4Cs might even be there and maybe we'll all get to ride together!Tiny Quadrifoglio

(Click on the thumbnails below for a larger view, and then
swipe, scroll, or use the arrow buttons to navigate)

See the original event announcement

Wachusett Run