MY PRIVATE ITALY: “La Mille Miglia”, the fastest (and craziest) car race ever run – Part 1

Friday, 03 April 2020 07:01 Written by
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Marcello narrates how the famous car race Mille Miglia was born, its route and the many difficulties pilots had to face

The 1000 miles was born from the idea of 3 crazy managers of the Automobil Club of Brescia, Maggi, Mazzotti, Castagneto, and a journalist, Canestrini, who wanted to invent a unique race, a race that could give an electric shock to the world of fast wheels In Italy and also abroad. The 4 met in December 1926 in Milan, one of them brought a large map of Italy. The paper was carefully examined, scrutinized palm to palm, and finally here’s the idea: a very fast gallop from Brescia to Rome and back, without stops, as fast as you can. When the race was designed, then they needed a name, so they invented that unmistakable and inimitable name, 1000 MIGLIA, precisely because the race would cover a distance of 1600 km. The idea was immediately welcomed by the world of sports racing and incredibly just 3 months later on March 26, 1927 the first 1000 miles in history departed.


The route was grueling. The first section of Brescia Parma Bologna entirely in the flat Po Valley was easy, but things got much worse from Bologna to Florence. Drivers should race across the Apennines, climbing 2 mountain passes: the Raticosa Pass and the Futa Pass, more than 900 m high. Then, all the way south to Rome, across the Radicofani pass at 900 m, along terrible roads. After leaving Rome, drivers would take the winding roads of central Italy that led to Ancona on the Adriatic Sea. From Ancona to Bologna it was a great sprint on flat ground but in Veneto the drivers would find, dulcis in fundo, the very hard and extremely challenging mountain roads from Feltre to Bassano del Grappa.


The final piece Vicenza Verona Brescia was not particularly difficult on paper but under what physical conditions at the end of such a grueling test would the drivers drive, probably at full speed? You can easily imagine the condition of the roads in 1930: more than a third of the route was clay, with stones, dust and mud, when it rained. The roads would be open to running circulation so you could find everything: from cars that marched in the opposite direction to a flock of sheep, from the child who suddenly crossed the road to trucks or buses to be overtaken, not to mention the 67 level crossings many of them unattended. Drivers would need a remarkable driving ability, very quick reflexes, an extreme physical resistance and of course a perfectly good car.


The race, due to the enormous organizational difficulties, was meant to have only one edition. Instead, the success of participation and audience was such that after the number one edition they organized also that number two and number three. Fascism looked favourably at mechanical speed, in the sky on land and at sea, and Mussolini’s consent for the continuation of the 1000 miles was decisive. The 1st edition, when someone even said that no car would return to Brescia, was won by Minoia and Morandi at an average of 77 km/h on OM, that’s almost 21 hours. The second and third editions were won by Campari and Ramponi on an Alfa Romeo, in 1929 the average was 89.68 km/h. But it was in 1930, with the 4th edition of the race, that the legend of the 1000 MIGLIA was born and, with it, the legend of Tazio Nuvolari, il MANTOVANO VOLANTE.

Read 2630 times Last modified on Friday, 27 October 2023 07:21
Marcello Cordovani

Marcello Cordovani is the founder and co-owner of VITORITALY. He is also the Tour Manager of the private tour of Italy

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