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Mille Miglia Rally

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Our last trip to Italy has been quite busy. After the visits to Galleria Ferrari, Lamborghini Museum and Maserati Collection, we thought we wanted to go watch some action and we knew that those days the Mille Miglia Rally was about to start in Brescia, on Lago di Garda. This race is considered today the ‘’Most Beautiful Race in the World’’ and here following I will explain you why.

Its first edition was in 1927 and it was a proper rally race, on open roads. It always starts from Brescia, drives south to Rome and comes back on the west coast back to the start, for a total of 1000 Miles. The fastest to cover this considerable distance would win it. You can imagine the conditions, the danger, the obstacles those days. Cars were not like our modern GTs and those drivers were brave pioneers of rally racing. Quite often they had to face gravel, bad tarmac, hard soil, wet conditions and half of the race was driven in the night. Every winner of those editions was a hero, like a winner of a Carrera Panamericana.

After 24 yearly editions, in 1957 the race became a competition based on fixed timing. The organizers realised that it was becoming too dangerous and they also wanted to invite all the previous participants and winners, with cars which were not competitive against the most modern machines. They changed the rules and imposed an average speed and some fixed timing at which every car had to cross time checks. The more accurate the driver and the co-pilot could cross those check points the more points they got. The team with more points would win the race.

Nowadays it still works like this. This allows year 1927 cars to compete against the latest year 1957, without having to push too hard for 1000 Miglia. Cars produced after 1957 are not allowed to participate. Every year a jury of vintage cars experts select about 365 cars out of the thousands requests they receive from everywhere in the world to draw the starting list. All the cars that are accepted have some special stories to tell. Some of them have raced and won Le Mans 24hrs, some of them belonged to the founder of a car manufacturer, some other are unique pieces with no price. Some of them have raced the first editions of the the race and won it. You can find the most incredible concentration of the most important cars ever produced in the world, from 1927 to 1957. Japanese, American, Russian, European Teams show up with cars you would only find in books and in most of cases these priceless cars are driven only once a year, at the 1000 Miglia.

Once I receive my press pass, I decide to go to the 1000 Miglia Museum, where all the 365 cars gather before the start and I can assure you that, when you enter that big yard, you get to see an incredible display of machines. Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Bugatti, Jaguar, Healey, Lancia, you name it. You stand in the middle of the show and anywhere you turn you see something special that you cannot see in any other event in the world. The teams prepare their road books, fill their bottles, do the final checkups of their stopwatches, control the liquids of their oldies, have a bite and wait for their start time. It is a wonderful afternoon and my right hand finger keeps on clicking, capturing every corner of these grand mamas.

I happened to watch several 1000 Miglia starts in the past but this time, I am part of the show and we will follow the race, driving our car inside the ropes. I feel quite excited about it.

This is the race that belonged to legends like Tazio Nuvolari, Alberto Ascari, Stirling Moss and their cars, the very ones that won in the 30s, 40s and and 50s are still here, driven by other drivers who proudly bring them to life to the race they found success first. It is indeed a glamorous event but you can also feel the passion for these pieces of style and engineering. You can see how much care the drivers or the owner pay to their four wheelers. These people are first in love with the history of their machines and then with the race itself. The meaning of following that path again driving seventy years old unique cars is so rewarding and I understand why every year so many request land on the scrutinising desks who selects the participants.

We follow the convoy towards the start line and the local police let us enter the ropes few hundred meters after. We are in the middle of the race and still in the old town of Brescia. We drive inside walls of people cheering and taking pictures. We are behind a small group of Jaguars XK 120s who quickly find their way through the narrow roads, to hit the B roads towards Verona, the first of the many check points. Once we leave the city, the speed increases and we find ourselves cruising at prohibited speed. A group of Mercedes 300 SL Gullwings overtakes us and we decide to follow them. We don’t know where we are going, since we don’t have any road book, we just trust these teams who seem to know every inch of the road. It’s fun and it’s incredible how these days you can still legally race on open roads for 1,600 Kilometres. It’s a unique event and we would follow the whole race down to Rome and back but we quit after few hours.

Now, I have a plan, I found the perfect car to race the 1000 Miglia next year. I cannot confess which is it but you will find out soon. It’s Italian, it was born in 1948, it raced in 1949 and there is only one piece in the world.


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