July 27, 2021


Automotive maniacs

Meet an Italian couple who make steering wheels for American race cars and trucks, and hats for popes

3 min read

In the vicinity of Verona, Italy — This weekend, automobile racing supporters will have a prospect to see the “Celebrity Racing Experience,” a new event debuting on CBS that aims to rival NASCAR. Some of the sport’s top motorists will contend head-to-head behind the wheel.

And as CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay reports, the steering wheel itself has an unlikely link to the Catholic Church.  

A file photo demonstrates a race auto driver’s hand on a steering wheel designed by U.S. firm MPI, which generates wheels around Verona, Italy, having gain of the regional craftspeople in “steering wheel valley.”


American race cars and trucks are prided for their managing, engineering, and speed. But all that horsepower can’t switch a lap with no craftsmanship from northern Italy, and an interest to element that has even caught the eye of two popes.

So what do 200 mile-for each-hour race cars have in typical with the 2,000-yr-outdated Catholic Church? It can be all in the stitching: The stitching of hand-built steering wheels, and of popes’ hats.

MPI is an American organization that would make bespoke steering wheels — each and every one particular forged of aluminum and then personalized wrapped in significant-excellent leather — outside Verona, Italy.  

The steering wheel may possibly seem like a tiny component of a race automobile, but thinking about it is where the driver’s talent arrives into immediate make contact with with the device, just about every minimal depth packs a enormous punch on the track.

Each steering wheel is embroidered by partner-and-wife duo Rosanna Castagna and Armando Benini. Their record of purchasers stretches from NASCAR, all the way to the Vatican.

Husband and spouse duo Rosanna Castagna and Armando Benini, embroiderers who get the job done in “steering wheel valley” in close proximity to Verona, Italy, where by they make both steering wheels for U.S. race autos and vestments for the Catholic Church’s leaders.


Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, not to point out dozens of cardinals, have worn vestments embroidered by the pair — from papal hats known as mitres, to the stole worn all-around the collar.

No subject the customer, be they holy or much more down-to-earth, Armando and Rosanna generally pay back obsessive attention to element with their function.

“You have to be nuts to do this get the job done,” Armando instructed Livesay, keeping up a needlepoint depiction of a Picasso vintage. “We never do it for the dollars. We do it just to see if it truly is possible.”  

Armando claimed it was very enjoyable to see his work dashing throughout a racetrack, primarily recognizing its broadcast on televisions all-around the world.

“I may possibly be an old male, but I am in adore with my operate as if I ended up a minor boy,” he told Livesay.

Armando and Rosanna, and numerous other artisans who operate in the place, make so numerous race motor vehicle steering wheels – far more than anyplace else in the planet – that the picturesque backdrop they call home in is regarded regionally as “steering wheel valley.”

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