Although the hectic period that the whole world is facing because of the pandemic, in this strange 2020 could not have been missing what for world’s car enthusiasts is the race expected all year round. With a delay of about six months from its ordinary schedule, the classic Italian regularity-race to commemorate the endurance motorsport racing held between 1927 and 1957, has started in an unusual manner in order to avoid spectators gatherings and comply with regulations dictated by the progress of the epidemic.
Despite the restrictions and additional complexity in organising the tour, three hundred and fifty-six cars (from all over the world) that have made design and automotive history and who have taken part in at least one edition of the historic Mille Miglia, left Brescia – classic starting point of the road race – beneath a gray sky that has not hosted the common maiden passage of the “Frecce Tricolori”. Besides the lack of the iconic aerobatic Italian Air Force, the inaugural car parade in the historic centre of Brescia has also been banned, by changing the initial route of the historic race.
Cover a thousand miles (true to the race nomenclature!) driving from sunrise and into the night around Italy is the goal and, rather than speed, is rewarded the driver ability and precision in respect of the established time to cover the sectors in which are divided the trials. People wearing period clothing defy autumn weather and good fortune milling kilometres in low-fitted seats, no safety equipment (not to mention the comfort!) through the beauty of the Italian countryside for the love to drive and cars. Indeed, this epic adventure known as “la corsa più bella del mondo”, pass over some of the most suggestive scenarios offered by Italian peninsula, by matching cars passion with Italian culture on breathtaking roads.
In four days racing, we lost ourselves on routes where motoring history has been written, by stopping in memorable locations cherishing the sense of the elapsed time and feeling of being an integral part of this amazing journey, made by stories and passion. The Mille Miglia is electric, transfers from the north to the centre of Italy passing historical town always followed by old metallic sounds and loud roaring engines, make your imagination run wild and plunge into the past. Smells, sounds and villages transport you back in the days, to when drivers were mad enough to cover the 1600km road race (today four days trip) in just 10 hours at an insane average speed.
At the dawn of the race in 1927, being a speed race, the time to cover a thousand miles was definitely less than today: at the “Prima Coppa delle Mille Miglia”  Minoja and Morandi crew took the first place driving for 21 hours and 4 minutes on a O.M (Officine Meccaniche) 665 Superba. Over the ‘30s and ‘40s thanks to the increase in cars performance (but not in safety and reliability), time to cross the 1600km path has always decreased. Up to 1955, to when Sir Stirling Moss set the ultimate record driving from Brescia to Rome and back on a Mercedes-Benz SLR in 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds, with an average speed of 157 km/h. Having travelled the roads involved, made up of bends, bottlenecks and stretches into villages, it’s just crazy to think that speed (157km/h average!) – and it would be fanciful in 2020, not to imagine 70 years ago, when roads were not all paved and safety systems were not something on which attention was paid.
Since its inception in 1927, the Mille Miglia captivated fans among motorsport community, who talked (and talk today) about it with a noticeable and magical emphasis, due to the emotions and memories it brings out. The spirit of the race lives in people who applauded amused in small-town the passage of thunderous and bright colour cars,  by expressing an engaging passion that we recognize to be the true sense of the race – the thrill of something unique.
For 30 years (until 1957) the 1000 Miglia has been the venue where manufacturers and drivers would get international glory and lustre: brands as Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes and Porsche entrusted their cars to well-known drivers in motorsport scene, to let they participate having a good chance of winning and so that talk about the brand. Motorsport legends such as Tazio Nuvolari, Alberto Ascari and Juan Manuel Fangio entered the race, increasing the already dense parterre of illustrious names of those who have won at least one edition (Fangio arrives 3rd in 1950, and second two times in 1953 and 1955).
Then a fatal crash at the 1957 edition, ended once and for all what had become a much-discussed race on the safety issue. The Ferrari 335 S driven by Alfonso de Portago and Edmund Nelson (navigator) went off the road in Guidizzolo – between Mantova and Brescia – due to a tyre explosion, involving the crowd by the roadside. Crash consequences were tragic: 11 deaths, 9 spectators of which five were children. What was a race where thrills and speed were prioritised over safety (as were several races from a time gone by) has been reasonably banned forever, leaving strong emotions and by developing danger awareness, which has progressively changed the Automobile world.
Today, of the pure race of yesteryear, all that remains is the memory that lives in the roar of the engines through narrow villages streets and deserted country roads, united by the people who scream and wave to the passage of the caravan of cars. The Mille Miglia still run today as regularity race, and it’s weird to think that before it was banned in 1957, it was all in one go where motoring legends drive as fast as possible. Since 1977 (the year in which MM returned as a historical re-enactment) the route that winds through the magical Italian landscape and goes back over the historical way, four days a year turns into the “rolling” stage where the glorious past of Automobile is celebrated.


1 Comment
  • Reply
    November 24, 2020, 8:21 pm

    Vielen Dank für diesen wirklich guten Bericht zur Mille Miglia 2020. Ich war dabei um Solidarität in schwierigen Zeiten zu beweisen. Mein Freund Dr. Martin Wick und ich hatten schöne Zeiten in Bella Italia . Gutes Essen, köstliche Weine und natürlich wunderschöne Autos. Trotz Maskenpflicht war ein guter Auftritt möglich. Ich bin der Mann mit dem Tropenhelm. Weiterhin alles Gute und viele Grüße aus Markt Berolzheim 👍

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