Finally close to Milan, we set up camp at turn one of the Monza racetrack, Stepek insisting that the next day we would "shakedown" the cab on the three-and-a-half mile circuit ... Hutch and I agreeing that before we left we had to see the sixty year old, concrete banking. The next morning however it was closed for maintenance.
But it mattered not. With Stepek at the wheel, bursting with adrenaline, we hit Milan instead. The cab drew plenty of attention, glares, oohs and ahhs, mostly from tourists desperate for a taste of home, wallowing in the fact that while the locals looked confused they were allowed a brief moment of superiority once more. You could read on their faces the words Knowledge Equals Power. On more than one occasion someone would try to flag us down, jokingly of course, their forced comradeship and their smiles and laughter quickly turning to disgust when they focussed in on our bottles of rum and bleat spliffs, Stepek's mean expression and Hutch's over-easy eyeballs.
The next morning, after two hours of sleep - max - Hutch, Norf and I awoke to the sound of the cab being pushed to the limit down the main straight by Stepek; the man who hadn't slept for over thirty hours. Clearly, the circuit had re-opened.
And it wasn't a pleasant noise; we still had many hundreds of miles to cover inside that machine, and already it sounded like a dumpster full of fireworks. "The banking," Hutch shouted from behind me, "even if it's the last thing I ever do, I need to see that banking. Men have died on that banking." As the cab battered on through the morning mist for lap after lap, I stood at the very edge of the track and lined my bare toes up against the tarmac, willing Stepek to lose control and wipe me out.