The Mille Miglia, a ninety-year-old wonder
The famous long-distance Mille Miglia car race held its first edition in 1927: it turns 90 this year, and will celebrate with its 35th commemorative parade, scheduled from Thursday May 18th to Sunday the 21st: Brescia to Rome and back, as always.
Indeed, as we publish this post, engines are revving up for their tests and everyone is preparing for the punching ceremony in Piazza della Vittoria.
But 2017 is not only the 90th anniversary of the race. It marks 70 years from 1947, when the competition resumed after five years of intermission during the Second World War. On June 22nd that year, Clemente Biondetti won on the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B coupé Touring.
There is also a sad anniversary, unfortunately: it’s 60 years from when, on May 12th 1957, a terrible accident near Guidizzolo, Mantova, took the lives of eleven people – two pilots and nine spectators. The tragedy led to the end of the race.
And finally: it’s also 40 years since the Mille Miglia made its comeback in 1977, as a regularity race for pre-1957 classic and vintage cars.
In his autobiography “Le mie gioie terribili” (Mondadori, Milan 1962), Enzo Ferrari shared a wonderful memory of the competition:
“The Mille Miglia has a wonderful history, and above all started a new era: the Mille Miglia created Italian cars and motoring; the Mille Miglia allowed us to create the Gran Turismo models we sell around the world today – and by ‘we’ I don’t mean just Ferrari.”
“When Italy was sanctioned, the Mille Miglia pushed us to produce our own fuel. The Mille Miglia has proved that road races bring decisive steps forward in technical progress, which is human progress.”
“I feel emotional whenever I speak of the Mille Miglia, because it is connected to long periods of my life. I was first a competitor and then an organizer for the brand I belonged to, Alfa Romeo; I lived it as a manufacturer, always admiring the race and its champions.”
“Indeed, the Mille Miglia was a race that not only made a crucial contribution to cars’ technical evolution, but also made champions emerge. No driver could consider his career complete without a victory in Brescia.”