E-Mail E-Mail

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

® ®
Made with StudioLine Made with StudioLine
Made with StudioLine

Brescia-Rom-Brescia, 14th - 17th of May, 2015

Almost sixty years ago the historic Mille Miglia, the toughest and most spectacular road race of it era saw its final edition in 1957 when the fast sportscars of the World Sportscar Championship set new record times at about 100 mph average proving the public roads unsuitable to keep up with the development of the cars. Several accidents did not just end the era of road racing but also limited the capacity of the sportscars for the years to follow.

... MediaCenter Galery ... Index >>>

... MediaCenter Gallery with 612 Peter Singhof Images >>>

20 years later in 1977 enthusiasts came together for the first revival and over the following years the Mille Miglia Storico for classic cars established itself as the most glamorous and spectacular driving event in the world being on the to-do list of every owner of a suitable car from the original years 1927-1957. Not actually a race anymore but a regularity event the modern interpretation still has a lot in common with the race, be it the start and turning point in Brescia and Rome, the drive through the spectacular landscape of Italy and the enthusiasm of the Italians of “la bella macchina”.

After a long time organisation of Costantino Franchi in the heydays of the Mille Miglia the organizer changed twice since introducing a few changes over the last 10 years. Most notable change in the first edition of the MAC Group was the move of the scrutineering to the Fiera di Brescia (the exhibition centre) near the motorway with enough space for the trailers and support cars on Wednesday rather than the chaotic activities in the Brescia city centre on Thursday. So already on Tuesday evening the first cars arrived in Brescia to be lined up in the main exhibition hall whereas the owners could get into the mood at the pre-MM party at the Museo Mille Miglia.

Wednesday the cars were inspected both technically but also for authenticity and originality to get the highly sought after race numbers. Despite a high entrance fee of 7000 Euros plus VAR every year the organizers have the agony of choice from several hundred applications to give the go to the crews and an ever increasing number of cars running the actual events show the ongoing hype of the Mille Miglia. Together with the Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz tribute upfront, the hundreds of supporting and media cars, guests and the actual 450 entrants at least 1500 cars are chasing through Italy the days to follow making this a mammoth task to organize. As the scrutineering itself is now out of the public focus the cars are brought to the city centre (the Piazza Vittoria to be more precise) the following day to be presented to the crowd and with Ascension Day on Thursday 14th even more visitors from Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland travelled to the Lago di Garda to enjoy cars and lifestyle of the early summer.

Certainly the classic car community changed a lot over the last 30 years and the Mille Miglia had to adopt to the new ownership of the cars it attracts. In 1977 the cars were purely owned by enthusiasts and drivers so the tough schedule with the 1000 miles at just over two days was never in question as the long and exhausting driving days were part of the fun and an reminiscence to the original times when Stirling Moss did the entire trip in just over ten hours. Today many of the entrants of the first editions are long gone and gentlemen drivers, guests of the supporting companies and more investment type of owners fulfil their dream of the driving the Mille Miglia and therefore the event was prolonged to cut down the daily driving time. Already in recent year the Mille Miglia added the Sunday arriving to Brescia in the afternoon rather than on Saturday evening to cut the longest leg all the way up from Rome into two part but this year for the first time the event also started earlier on Thursday after lunch rather than in the evening to shorten the Friday as well. Traditionally the Mille Miglia had its first stop in Ferrara for many years but as the last years went further south many people complained last year about arriving at 2am at the first overnight stop so now the first day is started earlier to get to the first stop in time.

Although the cars could also be sealed on Wednesday afternoon most of the drivers have chosen to come into Brescia on Thursday as before and the village just open in the morning kept the guys from the sealing very busy with 450 cars. The cars then parked as usually at the surrounding Piazzas to be admired by the public before going to the Museo Mille Miglia for the lunch before the start.

Most notable was the display of Mercedes-Benz celebrating the 60th anniversary of Sir Stirling Moss record run at the Mille Miglia 1955 in the most successful year of motorsport of the company with the three-pointed star winning not only the F1 championship but also the Wold Sportscar Championship with the legendary 300 SLR. No less than three of the straight-eight SLR from the factory museum were lined up in the streets of Brescia wearing the Mille Miglia race numbers of Moss, Fangio and Herrmann (although just one of them actually drove the original MM) and the two remaining works drivers Moss and Herrmann even opened this year’s race from the ramp joined by Susie Wolff in the third car. At about 3pm the first cars, traditionally from the first winning marque OM were sent off for the 1000 miles in the next three days. Due to the sheer amount of cars there was not much time apart from a few empty phrases to introduce the cars and their drivers but most of the cars did not need an introduction anyway being regular entrants of the race.

Certainly the times of high value did also change the face of the entry list over the last years but compared to other driving events this is still an impressive list and one only remarks the difference when directly comparing to the past. Critics certainly see the amount of Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing exceeding the total of 20 Ferrari but this is not only because of the German sponsorship as some might suppose but mainly due to the fact that the eligible Ferrari are well in the million euros today and are seen rarer on every driving event. And furthermore one has to remember that the original Mille Miglia might have been dominated by the marque with the prancing horse but even back in the glory days just a fraction of the cars were of this calibre. The MM was and will always be known for the many superb small Etceterini like the Giaur, Stanguellini or Ermini mainly based on Fiat drivetrains and small barchetta style bodies and lovers of this style of cars still get a lot to admire although one does wonder from time to time how much fun a full team of two could have in a car with less than a litre capacity and barely room for two people on a long distance race.

After about 2 ½ hours of cars leaving in short intervals the final cars entered the stage and within the last numbers was one of this year’s stars, the Ferrari 250 TR. Although the 250 TR was introduced after the Mille Miglia for the 1958 season with the restriction of 3 litre capacity in the early years a few of them were running the MM Storico due to their presentation in 1957 and therefore accepted for the race. As the last organization was a bit stricter with the eligibility of the car entered in the original race it took until this year for a 250 TR to show up again. The famous Testa Rossa is not just one of the most exciting and most valuable of all the Ferrari today and therefore a star on every event anyway but the Ferraristi from all over Europe were particularly interested in seeing this example known as “Lucybelle II” as the car is rarely seen outside its Swiss garage. Chassis 0732TR was entered in the American racing colours in the 1958 24h of Le Mans were it finished 7th overall and although its further race history is not spectacular it is known by its original livery. To make things short, the car was perfectly prepared and unlike many other Ferrari this year it made all the 1000 miles in its first attempt.

Some might read the last paragraphs and will insist that we are talking about a race rather than a regularity event but a race is what most of the entrants see and what soon becomes the impression when following the convoy on its way through Italy. After passing the first small villages on Thursday afternoon at the Lago di Garda on the way to Rimini one soon becomes aware that the normal traffic signs and regulation seems to vanish for the classic cars when groups of cars escorted by the police are blasting through small villages at sometimes over 100 km/h, ignoring red lights and opening lanes that did not exist before The more traffic the rush hour on the way south gets the more chaotic becomes the drive on the road and one is surprised that not much more crashes occur these days most likely because the Italian enthusiasm about all thing cars as the local traffic seems to accept this madness and the visitors rather encourage them to dive faster.

After the first afternoon the cars arrived in Rimini for the first nights and being more south than ever after the first day the highlight of the morning with the passage through the historic city centre of San Marino was earlier than ever on the second day. But the first night stop was not the only change along the route as the annual route changes very much depending on the villages spending money having the MM. For many years the route led through Assisi and Spoleto with the crossing of the Monte Terminillo but this year the passage from the coast to Rome was far more south from Teramo to Rieti whereas the last part to Rome was more familiar with the drive through the Vatican City State and the arrival in the eternal city. Thanks to the shorter leg the last cars arrived earlier leaving a few hours of rest for the most spectacular part of the Mille Miglia, the third leg though Tuscany on the way from Rome to Siena.

After a very early start at 6 am the cars drove the morning towards one of people’s favourites, the climb up to Radicofani. Normally this is the most beautiful part of the day as it separates the convoy from the normal traffic when the roads are closed purely for the classic cars for one of their special stages. Last year the passing of the small church was blocked due to work on the gas pipes but this year the entire main road at the bottom of the hill was closed for construction so all the traffic including the lorries had to take the climb over the hill. One could imagine the chaos down from Radicofani when the racing classics met the commercial traffic on the twisty roads producing a huge mess when some impatient drivers again opened lanes where was no room for them. But finally all the cars made it to their special stage before Buonconvento.

After passing Siena the road changed dramatically from the previous years. Again the next destination was Pisa that was already on the schedule last year but for the first time in the last 20 years the MM did not pass the Passo Futa and Radicosa, very much to the dislike of many of the entrants and certainly even more to the dislike of the spectators. One could have very different opinions about the chase over the Passo together with hundreds “supporting cars” and motorcycles but it was always a highlight when thousands of people were sitting in the serpentines cheering at the cars and the drivers seemed to enjoy that despite the stress driving in between all the self-explorer with their fake race numbers. Spectators were arriving in their caravans days before securing the best spot and most likely some of them were still there by tradition just to realize on Saturday that the MM will not pass this year. Instead the convoy passed through the Passo Abertone that might have been a pleasure to drive but leaving not much room to visit in between the guardrails and in the forest.

Sunday morning was the final stage of this years Mille Miglia and although the MM was dry this years this was the first day with a proper sunrise and sun on the first miles. Leading from Parma though Monza, Bergamo and Brescia this was not the most exciting leg in an area almost flat and populous. Just the last miles before Brescia the roads led through small villages on narrow roads.

This is also one of the downsides of the Mille Miglia when comparing with smaller event. Due to the amount of cars and the total mileage the organization cannot always choose the most idyllic small roads as the race still has to keep up the average to arrive in time on days with 600 km to drive. Smaller events in Bassano or the Coppa d´Oro delle Dollomiti for example are freer in choosing the best route whereas the MM is also depending on the communes and paying cities willing to host the spectacle.

But the Mille Miglia is not just a blast but also a very competitive regularity event. Every year particular the Italian and Argentinian crews challenge for the tenths of a second for the trial over the pressure tubes and this year it was the team Tonconogy / Berisso in their Bugatti T40 taking the crown on the Viale Venezia in front of a Fiat 514MM of Veso / Guerini and another Bugatti T40 of Salviato / Moglia.

So what is the conclusion of this year’s Mille Miglia? It was again a blast for all those interested in cars of this period and for some entrants it was the once-in-a-lifetime experience, for others another enjoyable edition. One has to know what to expect when entering a car in the 4 days event. If one wants to experience Italy on a relaxed cruise through the countryside with extensive coffee and lunch stops one might want to do this on one of the other 51 weekends of the year but if one wants to be driven by adrenalin and carried by the enthusiasm of the locals one is exactly at the right spot. This also puts the entry fee into another perspective as one might have to pay as much as penalty in addition of losing its driving licence driving like this on any other event or any other day of the year. One is also rewarded with crossing of historical town centres like Siena that are unique to the Mille Miglia. Maybe the MM might have lost the purity of the first Storico editions and became an “event” in many aspects but this is just a natural evolution and it does not look like it will lose its fascination in near future.

Report & Images ... Peter Singhof

Dowload >>>

The 2015 Mille Miglia Starter List with Chassis Numbers ...