Rallies in the 1950s
At only 22, he revived the rallying scene
July 1945 heralded the tragic death of Giulio Ultimo Ziliotto, founder of the first Pasubio rally in 1934; and coincided with the end of the war when the rally fall into a period of inactivity.
It was not until 1950 that it once again appeared thanks to the dynamism of the then young secretary of the MC Schio: Antonio Plebani.
At the time he was only 22, a student of Economics and Political Sciences and despite his youthful age he diligently undertook the immense task of reviving the Pasubio rally. His overriding ambition was to restore the event in all its glory; a source of pride not only for his motorcycle club, but for the entire nation.
He achieved this huge task through sheer hard work, becoming the driving force behind the rebirth of the organisations for 1950 and 1951. However he was destined to die prematurely in 1952 and his tragic fate meant that he would never again take part in another Pasubio rally.
Holy Mass celebrated at the Pasubio meeting of 1953 in memory of brothers Antonio and Gianni Plebani, both of whom died prematurely
The expected good weather forecast for 15 August was mostly absent for this seventh meeting, marking the rebirth of the Pasubio rally. On the contrary, it was the wind, rain, and storms that prevailed for most of the weekend.
Nevertheless, nearly 700 rallyists from all over the country made the trip for the resumption of this legendary motorcycling event under the aegis of Antonio Plebani and Professor Francis Chiozza.
This rare document of the time which has survived seven decades is the very beautiful diploma of the 7th Pasubio mountain rally of 1950 awarded with the commemorative medal to each participant
Despite the bad weather conditions, the rally was reported in the press as a success. The event was richly endowed with medals and trophies, (including items donated by Luigi Einaudi, the second President of Italy from 1948 to 1955) and various other gifts rewarding the most deserving of the participants.
Pasubio 1950 - a view of the participants
August 1951 saw an important international exhibition take place in Genoa, Italy, the 'Colombiadi'; a series of celebrations and cultural initiatives organised in Italy and Spain to celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of America by C. Colombo.
Scooterists and motorcyclists paraded through town under the eyes of the locals of Schio who came to see this noisy spectacle
For this reason, Antonio Plebani and Prof. Francis Chiozza had to bring the date of their motorcyclist rally forward by one month (to July 15 instead of the traditional August 15).
Pasubio 1951 - An era where helmets were not required. A beret, a beanie or a cap on the head did the trick ...
As the pass was still snowbound in July, the usual route had to be changed; the rallyists ascending the Pasubio, passing by Pian delle Fugazze then the Heroes' Route, stopping at the General Havet gallery.
Pasubio 1951 - Four 'centauri ' on the climb track
Despite the premature death of Antonio Plebani, members of the Schio motorcycle club carried on and threw themselves headlong into the organisation of the 9th meeting of their Alpine summer rally.
After the traditional climb to the pass, back in town, the participants gathered on Via Pozza Maraschin.
Pasubio 1952 - A human tide of 'centauri' from all over Italy sweeps over the peaceful town of Schio once again
From there, they gathered to take part in a parade in the city centre and then onto the Rossi stadium for the presentation of awards and a tribute to the late secretary of the organising club.
Pasubio 1952 - The cars of officials and personalities head the parade
In 1953, to honour the memory of the young Antonio Plebani, the man behind the rebirth of the rally, the club changed its name to 'Motoclub Schio - A. Plebani'.
Pasubio 1953 - In front of the stele erected in the mountains by MC Schio in tribute to its secretary, the participants gathered during the open air mass
Unlike other years, this time the rallyists did not descend to Schio for the traditional parade followed by the award ceremony, but congregated in the open space located at 'Pian delle Fugazze'.
The first prize in the raffle was a Laverda 75cc motorcycle generously donated by Dr. Francesco Laverda of the famous Breganze firm.
The diploma of the 10th Pasubio rally of 1953 given to each participant
With increasing attendances over the years, including many from other countries, some government departments also began supporting the 1954 event.
Pasubio 1954 - The traditional parade in town
The President of the Republic himself donated a magnificent silver trophy to the Schio club, (now fast becoming an internationally renowned organisation), for the awards ceremony. The ministries of Home Affairs and Defence did likewise.
Pasubio 1954 - Up in the mountain, the banner of the organising club at the control post greets the 'centauri' on their ascent. <two photos>
Needless to say, with this magnificent collection of plaques and medals donated by various authorities, companies, and associations, in this respect the Pasubio rally was undoubtedly one of the most richly endowed motorcycle rallies in the country.
Pasubio 1954 - We do not really know what is in this very tempting carboy, wine or local hooch? In any case the liquid must be good because it seems to be well guarded by those around it ...
The original 1954 poster produced by MC Schio, showing the Laverda, first prize in the raffle
Once again the raffle jackpot, a significant prize for the time, was a Laverda 75cc motorcycle donated by the Breganze firm. A prestigious small motorcycle at the time, having won renowned competitions in its category such as the 'Giro d'Italia' in 1953 and 1954, and the 'Milano-Taranto' in 1952 and 1953.
Another great prize was a hunting rifle from Bernardelli; a now-defunct Italian firearms company, founded in 1721.
The diploma of the 11th Pasubio rally of 1954 with the commemorative key ring given to each participant.
From 1955 until the very beginning of the 1960s, my archives contain almost no information on the activities of the Pasubio rally.
Pasubio 1955 - Rallyists passing the checkpoint. <two photos>
With the exception of these few photos taken during the 1955 rally.
Pasubio 1955 - It climbs, the engines heat up, the motorcyclists sweat, but eventually they reach the top ... <two photos>
However, we know it certainly takes place as evidenced by the various reports and articles in the Italian press of the time describing the meetings.
The diploma of the 12th Pasubio meeting of 1954
I've done my best to find some photos and reports, but to date I've not managed to get my hands on materials that could complement my archives regarding the history of the rally in the second part of the 1950s.
Pasubio 1955 - The crowd of participants listening to the speech of Henri Stienlet, then president of the International Motorcycle Touring Commission of the FIM. Twelve years later, Stienlet will unfortunately be the victim of a serious accident during his trip to the FIM 1967 rally in Moscow and will lose one of his legs.
To be continued ...
- Jean-Francois Helias