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The Best Drives with the Mille Miglia

Year after year, the Mille Miglia attracts millions of people from all over the world to Italy. On this page you will find useful information about participation and the route of the popular classic car rally.

Mille Miglia Oldtimerreise mit Nostalgic 11
Mercedes Benz 710 SSK 1928 1
Lagonda M45 Rapide 1934 1
Jaguar D Type 1956 1
Jacky Ickx 1
Alfa Romeo 6 C 1750 Gran Sport 1930 1
Prototyp im Mille Miglia Tross 1
The Mille Miglia´s turbulent history should be familiar to every classic car fan. Did you know, for example, that a racer became a knight for his success at the Mille Miglia, or how the Mile Miglia came to a tragic end in 1957? Below you will find two compelling stories.

Currently

Die Mille Miglia 2023

Die Mille Miglia findet 2023 vom 14. - 17. Juni statt. Im fernen 1982 wurde die neue Mille Miglia zum ersten Mal ausgetragen. Die Mille Miglia 2023 bleibt der Erfolgsformel von 2022 treu: es wird von Mittwoch bis Sonntag und im Uhrzeigersinn gefahren.  Das unbestrittene Highlight - die Durchfahrt in Siena über die wunderschöne Piazza Il Campo wird vermutlich wieder dabei sein, der genaue Streckenverlauf aber erst später veröffentlicht.

Am Mittwoch, 14. Juni 2023 um 14 Uhr startet der erste von 375 legendary racing cars auf dem Viale Venezia in Brescia. Tausend Meilen und drei Tage später, nachmittags ab 15 Uhr, werden die Sieger hier wieder über die Zielgerade brausen.

Continue to:  Participation in the Mille Miglia  //  Routing  //  Celebrities at the Mille Miglia  //  Ferrari was Born  //  The Record Run of 1955  //  The Tragic Ending in 1957

PART I

Today's Mille Miglia

Since its relaunch as a classic car rally in 1977, the “Mille Miglia storica” has been held annually with special stages since its tragic end in 1957.

Today, speed and winning are not what count. But that showcase of unique classic cars and a passion for driving, at one of the most important and beautiful stages in the history of motorsports:La corsa piú bella del mondo" - The most beautiful race in the world - takes places every year in mid-May and attracts celebrities as well as gear heads from all over the world.

Mille Miglia Team auf der Piazza Il Campo
Red carpet glamour – today`s Mille Miglia.

The spectacle of the Mille Miglia belongs on the list of things you have to experience at least once in a lifetime.
But how can you take part in the Mille Miglia?

Participation in the Mille Miglia: The Application Process

To start with, it’s almost impossible to join the Mille Miglia as a race team.
The participation places are in great demand.

The participation places are in great demand.

However, basically everyone can apply. The Mille Miglia committee chooses which classic cars and teams are allowed to participate. Although objective criteria plays a role in the selection process, meeting this criteria does noct guarantee a spot by a long shot.
  • An estimated 1,500 applications will be recieved per year.
  • From that, less than 400 teams are typically admitted to the race.
  • Including the spots reserved to sponsors, approximately 250 starting numbers will remain.
Below we will reveal details on how you can still get involved!

Which Classic Cars Are Allowed at The Mille Miglia?

Only car models that were used at the ‘original’ Mille Miglia between 1927 and 1957 qualify for admission into the race. Information on the different types of vehicles allowed can be found on the organizer’s website: www.millemiglia.it einsehen. Verfügen Sie über ein Fahrzeug von der Liste, müssen Sie sich noch um einen FIA- or FIVA pass, kümmern, der die Echtheit des Fahrzeugs dokumentiert. Dann steht einer Bewerbung nichts mehr im Wege. Diese sollten Sie bis December of the previous year at the latest. Unfortunately, sending your application in on time does not guarantee a spot.

Important Additional Qualifications That Can Help

Unless you are an Academy Award winner, hold an important political office (being a member of a national parliament will not do), have recently won an Olympic gold medal or even a pop star, your classic car punkten. Wollen Sie wirklich ernsthaft bei der Mille Miglia dabei sein, bleibt Ihnen die folgende Möglichkeit:
TIP
Look for a vehicle that is on the Mille Miglia list and less sought-after among classic car enthusiasts. You do not have to spend a fortune on such a vehicle, but you should concentrate on finding a vehicle with a special history. For example, a vehicle previously owned by someone famous significantly increases the probability of admission. The Mille Miglia committee is endeavouring to create a diverse set of cars at the start line. Keeping this in mind, your chances increase with more exotic cars.

The Mille Miglia Committee strives for a varied starting field. That is why you have the best chances with exotic species

If you are one of the lucky ones, you only have to pay the entry fee of approximately € 6,000 – and you’re in, despite all of the hurdles during the application process.

The Route of The Mille Miglia

Every year, the route of the Mille Miglia slightly changes. However, some key points will remain the same:

Beim Start der Mille Miglia 2017 in Brescia

The start of the race always takes place in
Brescia,

1. The start of the race always takes place in Brescia, where the founding fathers started the Mille Miglia in 1927. This was apparently in response to its neighboring city of Milan being selected as the first grand-pix course in 1922. The technical car inspection in downtown Brecia is the first of many rally highlights, and offers a great opportunity to view a fine line-up of pre-war race cars up close and personal.

2. The apex of the Mille Miglia has, according to tradition, remained in Rome. The vehicle parade there is another highlight of the rally.

3. The route leads back to the North from Rome. The stop at Siena’s Piazza Il Campo, home to the Palio horserace, is one of the most spectacular highlights to experience every year

Transit in Siena: time for selfies and talks.

4. The finish line is also set in Brescia– at least for those who belong to the sports and classic car scene and make it to the finish line!

Roadblocks and Drills at The Mille Miglia

If you have somehow managed to secure one of the coveted spots at the Mille Miglia, please familiarize yourself with the rules of the rally.

You’ve probably already raced at one of the existing classic car rallies. The Mille Miglia works the same either way.

  • There is a roadbook with the so-called "Chinese characters" that show you the way. In addition, the entire route is marked with the famous red arrow, the logo of the Mille Miglia.
  • There also is time controls and stamping points, the Mille Miglia can only be won through section control:You have to cover given sections at a certain time. The smaller the deviation, the more points you earn.

When, where and how the tests work exactly, can be found in the roadbook.

Experience The Mille Miglia with Nostalgic

The thrill of the Mille Miglia can also be experienced in a stylish and more relaxed way: with Nostalgic. Here, we will spare you the trouble of going through the application process, while promising red carpet treatmont along the way (for all those who are not Academy Award or Olympic athletes!) With us, you are a VIP,with or without the Olympic award or Grammy!

You will be able to relax in a luxurious country resort and privately enjoy the most beautiful landscapes of Tuscany, while at the same time experience first-hand the wonder of Mille Miglia, including driving the Mille Miglia, in our stylish Alfa Romeo classics, get in touch with the drivers and their race cars at the Piaazza il Campo. It's worth the experience.

Mitfahrt im Mille Miglia Konvoi
Mille Miglia im Mercedes Benz
Mille Miglia 2017 Nostalgic Konvoi
Selfie mit Nostalgic Reiseleiter Ludwig

We have been offering this unique travel experience for many years. Every year it is the first trip that is fully booked.

Get a head start behind the wheel of a Nostalgic classic car at the next Mille Miglia!
Check Availability

Facts and figures from recent years

In 2019, the Mille Miglia ran over 1,801 kilometers, the teams had to complete 112 regularity tests, they also had to go through 28 stamping points and were monitored at 16 control stations .

Mille Miglia 2019 mit Nostalgic Driving Experience 3
Mille Miglia 2019 mit Nostalgic Driving Experience 2
Mille Miglia 2019 mit Nostalgic Classic Car Travel 29
Mille Miglia 2019 mit Nostalgic Classic Car Travel 23
Mille Miglia 2019 mit Nostalgic Classic Car Travel 22
Mille Miglia 2019 mit Nostalgic Classic Car Travel 21
Mille Miglia 2019 mit Nostalgic Classic Car Travel 8
430 teams were admitted this year. Participants came from 44 different countries. kamen die Teilnehmer. Davon stellten die Länder Italien, Holland und Deutschland am meisten Teilnehmer. Der große Dominator der historischen Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo provided the largest contingent of classic cars with 44 vehicles, closely followed by Jaguars’ 35 racers, FIAT’s 33, and 31 Mercedes-Benz Teams. Exotische Marken wie Arnolt, Benedetti, Ermini, Frazer-Nash, Gilco-Mariani u.v.m. waren ebenfalls mit am Start und brachten längst vergessene Autohersteller wieder auf die Straße und in das Bewusstsein der Mille Miglia Fans. Natürlich gab es auch wieder prominente Namen unter den Teilnehmern. Besonders hervorheben möchte ich Prisca Taruffi, the daughter of the great Mille Miglia winner and Ferrari racer Piero Taruffi, who will be competing in a 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 C Super Sprint. Also Patrizio Bertelli, Chef des Modelabel Prada, der auf einem Porsche 356 A Speedster 1500 GS aus dem Jahre 1956 die Mille Miglia mitfuhr. Die Riege der bekannten Ex-Rennfahrer, die an der Mille Miglia 2019 teilnahmen: Ellen Lohr, Jochen Mass, Miki Biasion, Christian Geistdörfer, Giancarlo Fisichella traten bei dieser Mille Miglia für verschiedene Werkteams an. Seit vielen Jahren machte der Mille Miglia Tross 2019 a lunch stop in Siena again for the first time. Perhaps the most beautiful piazza in Italy is the ideal setting to welcome the world's most exclusive historic sports cars. In glorious weather, the stop on the Piazza Il Campo in Siena will be one of the highlights for teams and spectators at the 2019 Mille Miglia.

Mittags-Stopp in Sienna bei der Mille Miglia 2019

Series winner Alfa Romeo wins the 2019 Mille Miglia

The 2019 Mille Miglia has been won by a new winning team, beating the top favourites and winners of 2018: the duo of Giovanni Moceri and Daniele Bonetti of the Alfa Romeo works team win the 2019 Mille Miglia at the wheel of a Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 SS Baujahr 1928 – aus der Sammlung des Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese Mailand. Den Sieg in der 37. Auflage der modernen Mille Miglia errang das Team mit 74.752 Punkten. Auf den second place schaffte es ein Team aus Brescia mit Andrea Vesco und Andrea Guerini wiederum auf einem Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Zagato Baujahr 1929 mit gesamt 73.611 Punkten. Das Podium schließen ab mit  72.786 Punkten die Vorjahressieger Tonconogy und Barbara Ruffini mit einem  Bugatti Type 40 aus dem Jahr 1927. Mit reichlich Sonne, blauem Himmel und satten grünen Hügel bot die Toskana auch dieses Jahr traumhafte Bedingungen für die Durchfahrt der Mille Miglia. Wir haben viele Bilder und Kurzvideos mitgebracht: Hier geht es zur Photo gallery of the Mille Miglia 2019.

Mille Miglia 2020 ended successfully

We made it! The "corsa più bella del mondo" (literally: the most beautiful car race in the world) defied Corona and could be held again this year, albeit in October instead of May. The start and finish was the Viale Venezia in Brescia, with 1600 km of country roads across the Italian peninsula in between. Of the 356 teams that started, 296 reached the finish line. One could call this year a nice birthday present: an Alfa Romeo wins the historic Mille Miglia the year the brand turned 110! The father-and-son team Andrea and Roberto Vesco from Brescia celebrated a double victory in the Corona-year while driving a 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C Sport Spider Zagato shortly after winning the Gran Premio Nuvolari last September. The 5th place spot also belonged to Alfa Romeo, the Alberto Aliverti team and Stefano Valente in the identical sports car.
Mille Miglia mit Nostalgic Siena Piazza Il Campo 4
Mille Miglia mit Nostalgic Siena Piazza Il Campo 3
Mille Miglia mit Nostalgic Siena Piazza Il Campo 2
Mille Miglia mit Nostalgic Siena Piazza Il Campo 1
Alfa Romeo IMG 3415
IMG 3367
Mille Miglia mit Nostalgic Siena Piazza Il Campo 10
Mille Miglia mit Nostalgic Siena Piazza Il Campo 8
Mille Miglia mit Nostalgic Siena Piazza Il Campo 7

The route from Rome through Tuscany on Saturday is traditionally one of the most exciting stages; not only because of the 40 special driving obstacles, but the serpentine passages through the Apennines are a challenge in spring, let alone on October 24th with night and fog. Viewing this event you felt transported back to the first decade of the Mille Miglia.

We spotted the first teams in Torrenieri in the late morning, crossed the old town of Buonconvento at the onset of rain, and we used the passage control at noon in the “secret capital” of Tuscany; Siena, to get up-close with the participants in the Parc Fermé. During the ride on the path, the third-placing team of Aliverti-Valente greeted us along the drive, closely followed by the winners of the Coppa delle Dame (“Ladies Cup”) Silvia Marini and Francesca Ruggeri in the Bugatti T40 from 1929.

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The orgins of the thousand-mile race (Italian: “mille miglia”) lie in the age-old rivalry between Milan and Brescia. After the contract for the construction of Italy’s first Grand Prix track in Monza near Milan was awarded in 1925, resourceful merchants from Brescia countered with a virtual race track: instead of a circuit, the same track length as in the Grand Prix, namely 1,600 kilometers, should be driven overland. A race across the Italian peninsula, with a prestigious apex in the Eternal City, was a good choice. And we were blessed with this majesty of races.

TIP
Look for a vehicle that is on the Mille Miglia list and less sought-after among classic car enthusiasts. You do not have to spend a fortune on such a vehicle, but you should concentrate on finding a vehicle with a special history. For example, a vehicle previously owned by someone famous significantly increases the probability of admission. The Mille Miglia committee is endeavouring to create a diverse set of cars at the start line. Keeping this in mind, your chances increase with more exotic cars.
The Mille Miglia live and up close with Nostalgic
Tour Highlights


Mille Miglia up close: Travel report 2018

The Nostalgic Oltimerreise to the Mille Miglia makes car enthusiasts' hearts beat faster - in 2018 it was the 6th time in a row. Want to find out even more about this special trip? You will get a great insight into the Mille Miglia adventure from our tour guide Ludwig. In his Reisebericht zur Mille Miglia 2018 he shares his impressions and emotions: So hat Ludwig die Oldtimerreise zur Mille Miglia 2018 erlebt.

A Show Featuring The Rich and Famous

Over time, the modern Mille Miglia has quickly become a showcase of celebrities: from sport personalities, major figures in politics and economics, to actors and musicians regurlarly participate in the event.
Rennfahrerin Ellen Lohr und Susie Wolff bei der Mille Miglia 2016

test
bei der Mille Miglia 2016.

The media interest in the Mille Miglia is correspondingly great: no other classic car rally is as good as this in the public spotlight, far beyond the committed classic car scene. Classic cars are important status symbols 

The media interest in the Mille Miglia is fittingly high: no other classic car rally draws so much attention, far beyond that of the true vintage car scene. Many celebrities eagerly collect classical cars, some to such an extent that their collections have become famous over time.

Prominent classic car collections

The collections from Ralph Lauren and Jay Leno have achieved worldwide notoriety:
  • The fashion icon Ralph Lauren has built up one of the most renowned collections. With an estimated Total value beyond 150 million euros.
  • Late Night presenter Jay Leno owns more than 200 classic cars.
  • Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean, is a passionate collector of classic English-style cars.
  • Nicolas Cage and Eric Clapton share a mutual enthusiasm for early model Ferraris.
  • The Panini family, who have made their fortune from teenager soccer collection stickers, proudly owns the largest Maserati collection.

Maserati A6 GCS53: Maserati icon and serial winner with 40 important racing victories. Value: approx. 3 million euros.

Celebritiy Drivers at The Mille Miglia

The Mille Miglia is that perfect stage for prominent collectorsto showcase their no less prominent classic cars.
DID YOU KNOW?
Since 2016, no prominent participants' names have been published for security reasons. However, whenever there is no pilot's name on the starting list, one can assume that there are very prominent or wealthy participants.

Let’s take a look at which drivers registered before 2016. The list contains musicians, actors, politicians, and former Formula 1 drivers:

2015

Jodie Kidd Actor on a Jaguar XK 120 OTS Roadster - 1953

Cesare Fiorio Ferrari F1 Team Manager on a Lancia Aurelia B20 GT 2000 Berlinetta - 1951

Javier Zanetti Inter Milan football icon on an Alfa Romeo 1900 Sport Spider

Karl Wendlinger Formula 1 Pilot on a Mercedes 300 SL Coupé W 198 - 1955

Wolfgang und Ferdinand Porsche from the Porsche Dynasty Porsche 356 1500 Speedster - 1955

Ex FDP leader Philip Rösler on an O.M. 665 SSMM Superba - 1930 

2014
Jacky Ickx Formula 1 racing driver on a Porsche 550 Spyder RS - 1956

Martin Brundle Formula 1 racing driver on a Jaguar D-Type - 1956

Jeremy Irons Actor and Oscar Winner Jaguar XK 120 Lightweight - 1950

Jay Leno Late Night Presenter on a Jaguar XK 120 Sports "Ecurie Ecosse" - 1951

Brian Johnson Singer of the rock band AC/DC on Jaguar C-Type - 1953

Adrien Brody Oscar winner and actor on a Mercedes 300 SL W 198 - 1956

Amy Macdonald Singer on a Jaguar XK120

Milow, Pop Star on a Jaguar D-Type 

2013

Daniel Day-Lewis, three-time Oscar winner on a Jaguar XK120BJ 53

Herbert Grönemeyer, musician on a Bentley BJ 1927

Hannah Herzsprung, Actress on Jaguar C-TYPE BJ 1953

David Coulthard, Formula 1 Pilot Mercedes 300 SL W 198

Karl Wendlinger, Mercedes 300 SL W 198

Jochen Mass, Mercedes 300 SL W 198

Hans-Joachim Stuck, on a Porsche 356 1500.

Christian Geistdörfer, Rally World Champion with Walter Röhrl on a BMW 328 Coupé Touring

Is there an alternative to the Mille Miglia?

Der Gran Premio Nuvolari: Die geheime
Alternative zur Mille Miglia.

Among the classic car rallies, the Mille Miglia clearly attracts the most attention.

It is clearly the absolute number one among classic car events when it comes to media hype and flashbulbsMedienrummel und Blitzlichtgewitter geht.

But away from the hustle and bustle, in recent years a second event has stealthily become a real alternative for true classic car fans:

The Gran Premio Nuvolari. 

Is the Gran Premio Nuvolari "better" than the Mille Miglia? ? We dare to say: in many respects it certainly is.

In what way exactly? Find out!

PART II

The Turbulent History of The Mille Miglia

Join us on a journey through the great moments: learn more about the rapid rise of manufacturer Alfa Romeo and the making of Ferrari, or learn about the spirit of the original Mille Miglia race by reading two classic stories that every Mille Miglia fan should know.
From its inception in 1927 until the 1950s, the Mille Miglia remained the most famous and perhaps most most important car race in the world. The circuit from Brescia to Rome and back to Brescia measured exactly 1597 km and was always ridden in one piece. The special feature of the race: The participants did not compete directly against each other. Each participant raced against the clock. The racers started in minute intervals. Their results from the Mille Miglia were counted towards the World Championship and the Franco Marzotti trophy.

The Golden Years for Alfa Romeo and Ferrari 

For a full 20 years - from its founding in 1927 to 1947 - the almost Invincible Alfa Romeos with a total of 11 victories the great dominators of the Mille Miglia. After that, Alfa Romeo temporarily withdrew from motorsport and Enzo Ferrari took the reins - with 8 victories auf eigenen Sportwagen. Einzig Mercedes-Benz could besides twice in the list of winners the great dominators of the Mille Miglia. After that, Alfa Romeo temporarily withdrew from motorsport and
Rudolf Caracciola auf Mercedes-Benz SSK bei der Zieleinfahrt in Brescia 1932

Rudolf Caracciola bei der Zieleinfahrt in Brescia

This winning drive by Stirling Moss was a A great moment in motor racing: Mercedes-Benz managed a winning car with an SLR that helped the Englishman set a fabulous record for the ages. Stirling Moss was knighted by Prince Charles for this achievement.

All Winners of The Mille Miglia: From 1927 – 1957

Drivers Cars
Ferdinando Minoia/ Giuseppe Morandi O.M. Superba 665S
Giuseppe Campari/ Giulio Ramponi Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Spider Zagato
Giuseppe Campari/ Giulio Ramponi Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Spider Zagato
Tazio Nuvolari/ Giovanni Battista Guidotti Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Spider Zagato
Rudolf Caracciola/ Wilhelm Sebastian Mercedes-Benz SSKL
Baconin Borzacchini/ Amedeo Bignami Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider Touring
Tazio Nuvolari/ Decimo Compagnoni Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider Zagato
Achille Varzi/ Amedeo Bignami Alfa Romeo 8C 2600 „Monza” Spider Brianza
Carlo Pintacuda/ Alessandro Della Stufa Alfa Romeo 2900 Tipo B
Antonio Brivio/ Carlo Ongaro Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 A Spider
Carlo Pintacuda/ Paride Mambelli Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 A
Clemente Biondetti/ Aldo Stefani Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Spider Touring
Huschke von Hanstein/ Walter Bäumer BMW 328 Coupé Touring
Clemente Biondetti/ Emilio Romano Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Coupé Touring
Clemente Biondetti/ Giuseppe Navoni Ferrari 166S Coupé Allemano
Clemente Biondetti/ Ettore Salani Ferrari 166 MM Spider Touring
Giannino Marzotto/ Marco Crosara Ferrari 195S Coupé Touring
Luigi Villoresi/ Pasquale Cassani Ferrari 340 America Coupé Vignale
Giovanni Bracco/ Alfonso Rolfo Ferrari 250S Coupé Vignale
Giannino Marzotto/ Marco Crosara Ferrari 340 America Spider Vignale
Alberto Ascari Lancia D24 Carrera Pininfarina
Stirling Moss/ Denis Jenkinson Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR
Eugenio Castelotti Ferrari 290 MM Spider Scaglietti
Piero Taruffi Ferrari 315S Spider

Enzo Ferrari Makes Alfa Romeo Invincible

After having modest success behind the wheel of race cars, Enzo Ferrari became team manager of the official Alfa Romeo racing team. He not only succeeded in continuing Alfa Romeo´s success every year at the Mille Miglia. He also made Alfa Romeo the most successful racing team ever. For a while, Alfa Romeo was invincible on the track..

The exit of Alfa Romeo from motor sports

But the consequences of the Global economic crisis hatten zu Beginn der 1930er-Jahre auch vor dem Motorsport nicht haltgemacht. Alle Autohersteller kämpften mit massiven Problemen. Ganz besonders Alfa Romeo, da man nur Luxuskarossen und Sportwagen im Angebot hatte. Doch dafür gab es kaum mehr Nachfrage. Alfa Romeo musste sparen, wo es ging und officially retired from motorsport in 1932. Dass Alfa Romeo nicht komplett von der Bildfläche verschwand, war Enzo Ferrari zu verdanken: Er gründete ein eigenes Motorsport Team, the "Scuderia Ferrari", and further developed the racing cars provided by Alfa Romeo.

The ‚Scuderia Ferrari‘ is born

Despite having a very successful start with Alfa Romeo race cars entschied sich Enzo dafür, komplett eigene Rennwagen zu entwickeln. Nach dem Ende des 2. Weltkrieges war es soweit: Die ersten Rennwagen und Straßenwagen verließen das Ferrari Werk in Maranello und eine einzigartige Geschichte und Siegesserie begann. Ferraris dominierten fortan die Mille Miglia mit 8 Siegen und setzten die Erfolgsserie auch nach dem Ende der Straßenrennen fort. Kein anderes Formel 1 Team konnte sich auf Dauer mit Ferrari messen: 16 Konstrukteurs- und 15 Fahrersiege bei den Formel 1 Weltmeisterschaften zeugen davon und machen Ferrari zum weltweit einzigartigen Mythos.
EXPERIENCE THE MILLE MIGLIA LIVE
If you are now in the mood for a ride behind the wheel of a flashing chrome classic car in the Mille Miglia convoy, you should definitely take a look at Nostalgic's travel offer to the Mille Miglia: A guaranteed unforgettable experience for every classic car fan.
The Mille Miglia live and up close with Nostalgic
Discover this Tour

Mille Miglia up close – 1st story

The Record Run of 1955: Hussar Ride and Racing Milestones

Every Mille Miglia fan should know it: The incredible story of Stirling Moss' infamous triumphant drive in the Mercedes-Benz SLR at the 1955 Mille Miglia, which made unforgettable racing history. Every Mille Miglia fan should know about the incredible story about the race with Stirling Moss behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz SLR at the 1955 Mille Miglia.

The racing team Moss and Jenkinson mastered the 992-mile circuit in just 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds, which corresponds to an average speed of little less than 160 km/ h. With their victory, history had been written.

Stirling Moss und Denis Jenkinson am Start der Mille Miglia 1955.

Stirling Moss und Denis Jenkinson am
Start der Mille Miglia 1955.

Completing a race in such a short amount of time is hard to imagine, given the fact that the entire route included country roads that had not been previously closed off to local traffic. The race team had to be ready for unexpected obstacles on the road at any given time. To this day, the ride of Stirling Moss is considered a “hussar” ride and a milestone in motorsports history. Juan Manuel Fangio, one of the best ever behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz race car, crossed the finish line a half an hour later.

Chapter 1 – The Top Favorites for Victory In 1955

Ferrari, Maserati and Aston Martin were poised for a podium finish along with the race cars from Stuttgart. When it came to racers however, the Mercedes-Benz team was superior to its rivals: Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio, Hans Herrmann and Karl Kling were known as world class drivers. Each of them had what it took to win at the Mille Miglia. Nevertheless, their opponents were not to be underestimated: Paolo Marzotto, Piero Taruffi, Peter Collins, Count Trips and Umberto Maglioli were top drivers in their own right.

Chapter 2 – The Perfect Start: Ferrari Takes The Lead Early Against Mercedes-Benz

Stirling Moss got off to a slow start as the race began. Barely off the starting line, Moss had already found himself behind three Ferraris who took an early lead. There was nothing to suggest that the British duo in the Mercedes-Benz would go on to break the biggest record in the history of the Mille Miglia. Castelotti, who was behind the wheel of a Ferrari, was also lucky enough to get off to a head start. Although he was unbeatable on the first leg of the Mille Miglia, his driving style was too much for his Ferrari: his car broke down close to Pescara. His teammate Marzotto, who was the driver of the second Ferrari, unfortunately had to drop out of the race due to a flat tire. A spare tire was mounted on the wrong rim and did not fit properly on the race car.

Chapter 3 – Stirling Moss Strikes Back With His Mercedes-Benz

Due to car trouble, The two toughest rivals were forced to drop out of the race. Faster refueling enabled Moss to lead the race for the first time as he overtook Taruffi’s third Ferrari. Upon entering Rome, Moss´s lead over second-placed Taruffi continued for more than a minute. Suddenly, Fangio´s car began to have engine problems, resulting in a crash just outside the gates of Rome. Given that Rome was the apex of the race, a team leading at half-time in Rome and subsequently winning the Mille Miglia was a first in the event´s history.

Der große Juan Manuel Fangio auf
Mercedes-Benz SLR an der Startrampe
in Brescia 1955

Chapter 4 – A Huge Triumph – Die Triumphfahrt beginnt

The return journey to Brescia from Rome became a veritable triumph for the top two. At the Siena control point, Moss and Jenkings were in the lead by five minutes. After passing Florence, the infamous Passo della Futa awaited them. However, Moss and Jenkinson cleared the area brilliantly. The flat fields leading past Bologna helped them secure the lead. The dream duo led eventual runner-up Fangio by an impressive 27 minutes in the area of Modena, which is btw home to Enzo Ferrari. Unfortunately, Karl Herrmann was forced to withdraw from the race due to an accident. At that moment, all potential rivals for the title were either out of the race or were too far behind to catch up. By the time they reached the finish line in Brescia, team Moss-Jenkinson was more than half an hour ahead of second-placed Fangio and just under 45 minutes ahead of Umberto Maglioli’s best Ferrari, which was in third place.

Chapter 5 – The Secret of The Record-Breaking Run

How could such a groundbreaking triumph be possible given the circumstances?

  • Well for one, Stirling Moss was a gifted racer. Before the Mille Miglia, he never won the World Cup. In fact, he was runner-up four times and won a total of 16 races throughout his career.
  • Although the Mercedes-Benz SLR was a winning car, it did not match up to the Ferraris in the World Cup.
  • The combination of Fangio and the Mercedes-Benz SLR was considered stronger and therefore a top favorite for winning the race.

Moss and Jenkinson succeeded because they did something no one had done before. Today, it is considered a standard procedure while preparing for a race: they conducted a detailed route inspection which ensured success for all endurance races

Das Siegerteam von 1955 nach der Rekordfahrt.

Das Siegerteam von 1955 nach der
Rekordfahrt.

What is standard in today’s rally sport races had been invented by the British´s success story at the Mille Miglia: a detailed written logbook that described roadways in painstaking detail, allowing the driver to drive at maximum speed in confusing areas.

Chapter 6 – Moss´s Trump Card Against The Legend Fangio

Co-driver and motorsport journalist Dennis Jenkinson spent months visiting the track of the Mille Miglia before the start of the race to gather info and record it to a logbook. Moss blindly trusted his co-pilot’s notes and used it to his advantage over his competitors. Of course, the great weather conditions and a bit of luck on the track also played a role in helping Moss write racing history and create an all-time record.

Sir Stirling Moss im Siegerauto von 1955 am Start der Mille Miglia 2015

Sir Stirling Moss im Siegerauto von 1955 am Start der Mille Miglia 2015

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Mille Miglia close up and personal – 2nd story

The Tragedy That Marked The End of The Mille Miglia

In its 30-year-history, the Mille Miglia was an adrenaline rush and a joy for all in the racing world, but it all came to an abrupt end. Read on about how a tragedy ended the original Mille Miglia back in 1957.

Chapter 1 – Folk Celebration at The Mille Miglia

In the villages and small towns of the Mantua province, which belongs to the Italian region of Lombardy, the modern age had not arrived yet for all. There was hardly any industry, and the people still worked in agriculture and small businesses.

People here therefore earned a modest living. At the same time, the economic boom in the industrial triangle cities of Milan, Turin, and Genoa was responsible for creating a middle class that could afford essentials such as a washing machine, a car, and later a television.

Schaulustige am Passo della Raticosa

However, this economic upturn did not reach the sleepy nests of the countryside.

The more exciting events were welcomed in this community, because they promised them a small relief from the everyday field work and church services.

So, it is no wonder that the people of the community were always electrified by the futuristic-looking cars racing by during the Mille Miglia every year in May and could hardly wait to hear the roaring engines.

Chapter 2 – 1957: The Fateful Year and The 24th Mille Miglia

It was a warm and sunny Sunday in the municipality of Cavriana.

Hundreds of people came on foot, by bicycle and by bus to attend the Mille Miglia. They all came together in the isloated homesteads which lined the Strada Statale 236 Goitese – a narrow paved strip of road with irrigation ditches.

Once a year, several hundred sports cars raced like lightning through the desolate Campagna.

From here, 50km remained before reaching the finish line Brescia after more than 1500 kilometers.

Victory was within reach.

The 24th edition of the Mille Miglia, a thousand-mile race across the Italian peninsula, turned the fields and villages along the route into a huge modern folk festival. The heroes in their loud sports cars, the smell of gasoline and the screeching of tires was so different from the bleak everyday life.

Chapter 3 – The Red Ferraris Dominate at The Mille Miglia

Eight-year-old Giovanni Conzato passed the time before the start of the race by playing with his playmates in the homestead ‚Corte Colomba‘. They were happy that church activities were canceled on this particular Sunday due to the ‚Mille Miglia‘.

With him were his two siblings Virginio and Valentina Rigon, ten and six years old respectively.

The race took place on public roads with almost no protective barriers and staff to control them.

The audience trusted the drivers and their race cars.

Experiencing this type of action up close and personal gave an adrenalin rush and thrill which made men, children and women wave enthusiastically from the roadside.

On this fateful race day in May, Enzo Ferrari‘s cars, which were built in nearby Modena, were far ahead of the competition. It was him who had looked after the Alfa Romeo racing cars two decades earlier at the Mille Miglia before starting his own automobile company.

 

Chapter 4 – „Vinca Taruffi!“ – Enzo Ferrari’s Fatal demand

29-year-old Spanish aristocrat Alfonso de Portago enjoyed a succesful career as a jockey and bobsleigh athlete before he was recruited by Le Mans winner Luigi Chinetti to be a co-driver for the Carrera Panamericana.

In 1956, Enzo Ferrari offered the newcomer a spot on his production team. A short time afterwards, on May 12, 1957, he was driving a Ferrari 335 S and had learned at the last service stop that he was on the way to finishing fourth place.

Earlier this morning, the Spaniard had spilled some milk at breakfast, which is a bad omen.

Before the start of the race, he handed the race director of the ‚Scuderia Ferrari‘ a note with his wife´s contact information.

On Sunday at 2.30pm, Enzo Ferrari saw his drivers pass through Bologna. He ordered: ‚Vinca Taruffi!‘ (Taruffi should win!).

For Ferrari, a magnificent victory was achieved: after the failure of team drivers Peter Collins, Piero Taruffi and Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips were in first and second places, respectively, followed by Gendebien, albeit behind the wheel of a less-powerful racing car, the 250 GT Scaglietti.

Meanwhile, Alfonso de Portago was unhappy. Perhaps the ambitious aristocratic bon vivant thought that fourth place was a humiliating. Because he secretly knew that he had a chance with his larger-capacity, 4.1-liter twelve-cylinder engine – on the 5 km-long straight behind Goito towards Guidizzolo.

In a previous interview, de Portago had talked about fear: ‚Fear is the knowledge of impending danger … I like the feeling of fear. In the end, you get used to it and need it more and more of it‘.

Chapter 5 – A Stroke of Misfortune

What exactly happened shortly after 4.00 pm on this Sunday in the northern Italian province remained controversial even in later court hearings.

What appears to be certain is that Portago’s car on the long straight, the Strada Statale 236 Goitese near Santa Colomba – was traveling at a speed of at least 200 km/ h. Some sources say that the speed was 250 km/ h.

And then tragedy struck..

According to contemporary sources, a damaged fender which had not been repaired in order to save time caused a flat tire, which subsequently caused the driver to lose control of the Ferrari, crashing into a telegraph pole, flying into an adjacent moat from which it catapulted out and finally crashed right into the audience. The destroyed vehicle came to a stop only a hundred meters away. Alfonso de Portago and his co-driver, the American journalist Edvard Gurner Nelson, as well as Roberto, Virginio, Valentina, two more children and four adults died from the crash. Twenty people were seriously injured.

He touched the curb. Burst.

De Portago lost control of the Ferrari. First crashed into a telegraph pole. Then fell into the adjacent moat. Was catapulted out of there again.

And flew into the audience.

Only a hundred meters further did the completely destroyed vehicle come to a standstill.

With Alfonso de Portago and his co-driver, the American journalist Edvard Gurner Nelson, Roberto, Virginio and Valentina, two other children and four adults died.

Twenty people were seriously injured.

The dead were laid out on homestead kitchen tables. Priest Pio came and identified the bodies and provided comfort the injured. Bystanders creaded makeshift stretchers from nearby argicultural equipment. News of the tragedy was broadcasted by the official Italian news agency ANSA.

Chapter 6 – Enzo Ferrari, The Scapegoat

Enzo Ferrari had previously lost several race car drivers due to fatal accidents. But the events of May 12, 1957 shook him deeply.

After the catastrophe of Le Mans, with 84 deaths just two years ago, the opposers of public car racing voiced their opinion in Italy as well.

Even from his own ranks, one can speculate that de Portago reluctantly signed up for this edition of the Mille Miglia, realizing the danger of open street racing. He was probably persuaded by Enzo Ferrari to race. It could not be determined whether or not Enzo Ferrari persuaded his driver de Portago in Bologna, fearing a breakdown of Gendebia.

The victory at 24th annual Mille Miglia was overshadowed by the nationwide outpour of grief and criticism that placed the blame in large part on Enzo Ferrari.

The Mille Miglia became known as the – Cemetery for Men and Children – Stop It‘—the local press publically criticized the man from Modena.

With powerful support from the church and state, most people believed that races such as Mille Miglia should be banned.

Although several lawsuits against the tire manufacturer as well as the ‚Commendatore‘ did not result in convictions, people believed that Enzo Ferrari was morally responsible for the tragedy.

Ferrari struggled with all of the criticism, eventually contemplating whether or not he should completely retire from racing. In the end, he decided to stay, but stood away from all future racing events unless special circumstances arose.

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