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Off-Road Hall Of Fame Inductees
Edo Ansaloni Year Inducted: 2007

Edo Ansaloni is an inductee in the Pioneer: Advocate category.

Edo Ansaloni was born on March 13, 1925 in Bologna, Italy. His father, Arturo, founded a farming business, which is still in operation today and until 1937 was located next to the Maserati racing factory. According to Edo, “the loud noise of the competition engines on the test benches was the only music during his childhood”. Clearly, the tone of the engines was to set the tone for Edo’s life as he grew up with a passion for cars and mechanics. 

Ansaloni’s first activities in the family business were in the garage, where he would transform the Willys MB, half-tracks or GMC trucks to any possible farm or off-road vehicle. After WW2 everything was devastated in Italy and it wasn’t possible to buy cars or trucks since most of the Italian industry lay in ruins. Using war surplus, Edo built the first “orchard boom automatic sprayer” in Italy, giving the farmers a powerful tool to fight orchard pests, while reducing the labor requirements to get the job done.

 After the war, Edo went to the American Auto Park in Livorno many times. There you could buy Willys MB or Ford GPW (Jeeps) to be transformed into pick-ups and tractors. Edo was instructed by his father to find and buy the best pieces, which could be useful to his farm and his friends, either for work or for fun. Already an avid collector, Edo decided to save a lot of vehicles from alteration, particularly Jeeps, which he loved and had first learned to drive on the roads and trails around Bologna.

 Edo was the first Jeep dealer in the Bologna area and later had a GM dealership, which led the way for the introduction of four-wheel drive Blazers, and pick-ups in the area. His enthusiasm about off-roading and off-road racing soon began to spread throughout Northern Italy. Although Jeeps and 4WD vehicles had long been established as vehicles of necessity on the farms and in the mountains, during the 60’s their popularity was increasing for family trail riding and interesting challenges on natural terrain.

 Using a set of guidelines he found in an article in ‘Four Wheeler’ magazine, in 1969 Edo and a number of his friends founded the first National Off-Road Club in Italy, “Club Nazionale Flouristrada”. “This was the real beginning,” says Edo. “The first races were organized along with beautiful trips through amazing off-road tracks in the country side of Italy and Corsica. This kind of sport, absolutely new for Italy back then, was loved by those who participated because most of the time it involved entire families gathering outdoors and excitement and adrenaline rush for all the drivers.”

Edo went on to buy some mountain property where he built an off-road racing track to host 4X4 races and events. After a few years and races such as Jamborees and Jeepcades, more people embraced the sport and other clubs were born.  Of course at this point an organization to coordinate all these clubs on a national level was a must.  In 1973, Edo was nominated and became the first President of the Italian National Federation. He successfully orchestrated a confrontation with the Italian Auto Sport Commission (the only racing body recognized by the government) who wanted to keep off-road racing under its full control.

 After years of activity promoting the four-wheel drive all over Italy and organizing off-road races and gatherings on a national and international level, Edo was ready for a changing of the guard and to let the younger generation take over. Along the way, Edo won many important off-road races but chose to focus the latter years of his life on his other great passion: Building the Museo Memoriale to honor the veterans and to help the younger generations remember Bologna’s liberation during WWII. The museum opened on April 21, 2000, and has been visited by ten’s of thousands of students and veterans from all over the world.  More information about the Museum can be found at www.museomemoriale.com

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