Mille Miglia
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Mille Miglia

Mille Miglia
First race26-27 March 1927
Last race11-12 May 1957
Distance1,000 miles (approximately)
Most wins (driver)Italy Clemente Biondetti
Most wins (manufacturer)Italy Alfa Romeo

The Mille Miglia (Italian pronunciation: ['mille 'mia], Thousand Miles) was an open-road, motorsport endurance race established in 1927 by the young Counts Francesco Mazzotti and Aymo Maggi, which took place in Italy twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957 (thirteen before World War II, eleven from 1947).[1]

Like the older Targa Florio and later the Carrera Panamericana, the MM made grand tourers like Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche famous.[] The race brought out an estimated five million spectators.[2]

From 1953 until 1957, the Mille Miglia was also a round of the World Sports Car Championship.

Since 1977, the "Mille Miglia" has been reborn as a regularity race for classic and vintage cars. Participation is limited to cars, produced no later than 1957, which had attended (or were registered to) the original race. The route (Brescia-Rome round trip) is similar to that of the original race, maintaining the point of departure/arrival in Viale Venezia in Brescia.

Car numbering

Unlike modern day rallying, where cars are released with larger professional-class cars going before slower cars, in the Mille Miglia the smaller, slower, lower displacement cars started first. This made organisation simpler as marshals did not have to be on duty for as long a period and it minimised the period that roads had to be closed. From 1949, cars were assigned numbers according to their start time. For example, the 1955 Moss/Jenkinson car, #722, left Brescia at 07:22 (see below), while the first cars had started at 21:00 the previous day. In the early days of the race, even winners needed 16 hours or more, so most competitors had to start before midnight and arrived after dusk - if at all.


Before World War II

Some of the founders posing together in Brescia, here pictured in the 1940s. From left to right: Giulio Binda, Aymo Maggi, Filippo Tassara, Giovanni Canestrini and Renzo Castagneto.

The race was established by the young Counts Aymo Maggi and Franco Mazzotti, sports manager Renzo Castagneto and motoring journalist Giovanni Canestrini, apparently in response to the Italian Grand Prix being moved from their home town of Brescia to Monza. Together with a group of wealthy associates, they chose a race from Brescia to Rome and back, a figure-eight shaped course of roughly 1500 km -- or a thousand Roman miles. Later races followed twelve other routes of varying total lengths.

The first race started on 26 March 1927 with seventy-seven starters[3] -- all Italian -- of which fifty-one had reached the finishing post at Brescia by the end of the race.[3] The first Mille Miglia covered 1,618 km, corresponding to just over 1,005 modern miles.[3] Entry was strictly restricted to unmodified production cars, and the entrance fee was set at a nominal 1 lira.[3] The winner, Giuseppe Morandi,[3] completed the course in just under 21 hours 5 minutes, averaging nearly 78 km/h (48 mph) in his 2-litre OM;[3] Brescia based OM swept the top three places.

Tazio Nuvolari won the 1930 Mille Miglia in an Alfa Romeo 6C. Having started after his teammate and rival Achille Varzi, Nuvolari was leading the race but was still behind Varzi (holder of provisional second position) on the road. In the dim half-light of early dawn, Nuvolari tailed Varzi with his headlights off, thereby not being visible in the latter's rear-view mirrors. He then overtook Varzi on the straight roads approaching the finish at Brescia, by pulling alongside and flicking his headlights on.

The event was usually dominated by local Italian drivers and marques, but three races were won by foreign cars. The first one was in 1931, when German driver Rudolf Caracciola (famous in Grand Prix racing) and riding mechanic Wilhelm Sebastian won with their big supercharged Mercedes-Benz SSKL, averaging for the first time more than 100 km/h (63 mph)[3] in a Mille Miglia. Caracciola had received very little support from the factory due to the economic crisis at that time. He did not have enough mechanics to man all necessary service points. After performing a pit stop, they had to hurry across Italy, cutting the triangle-shaped course short in order to arrive in time before the race car.

The race was briefly stopped by Italian leader Benito Mussolini after an accident in 1938 killed a number of spectators.[] When it resumed in April 1940 shortly before Italy entered World War II, it was dubbed the Grand Prix of Brescia, and held on a 100 km (62 mi) short course in the plains of northern Italy that was lapped nine times.

This event saw the debut of the first Enzo Ferrari-owned marque AAC (Auto Avio Costruzioni) (with the Tipo 815). Despite being populated (due to the circumstances even more than usual) mainly by Italian makers, it was the aerodynamically improved BMW 328 driven by Germans Huschke von Hanstein/Walter Bäumer that won the high-speed race with an all-time high average of 166 km/h (103 mph).

After World War II

The Italians continued to dominate their race after the war, now again on a single big lap through Italy. Mercedes made another good effort in 1952 with the underpowered Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, scoring second with the German crew Karl Kling/Hans Klenk that later in the year would win the Carrera Panamericana. Caracciola, in a comeback attempt, was fourth.

Few other non-Italians managed podium finishes in the 1950s, among them Juan Manuel Fangio, Peter Collins and Wolfgang von Trips.

Stirling Moss at the Mille Miglia

Cars in Brescia before departure at 1955 Mille Miglia.

In 1955, Mercedes made another attempt at winning the MM, this time with careful preparation and a more powerful car, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR which was based on the Formula One car (Mercedes-Benz W196), entirely different from their sports cars carrying the 300 SL name.

Both young German Hans Herrmann (who had had remarkable previous efforts with Porsche) and Briton Stirling Moss relied on the support of navigators while Juan Manuel Fangio (car #658) preferred to drive alone as usual, as he considered open road races dangerous after his co-pilot and friend was killed during a race across South America. Karl Kling also drove alone, in the fourth Mercedes, #701.

Similar to his teammates, Moss and his navigator, motor race journalist Denis Jenkinson, ran a total of six reconnaissance laps beforehand, enabling "Jenks" to make course notes (pace notes) on a scroll of paper 18 ft (540 cm) long that he read from and gave directions to Moss during the race by a coded system of 15 hand signals. Although this undoubtedly helped them, Moss's innate ability and the 300 SLR's exceptional build quality were clearly the predominant factors. Moss was competing against drivers with a large amount of local knowledge of the route, so the reconnaissance laps were considered an equaliser, rather than an advantage.

Car #704 with Hans Herrmann and Hermann Eger was said to be fastest in the early stages, though. Herrmann had already had a remarkable race in 1954, when the gate on a railroad crossing was lowered in the last moment before the fast train to Rome passed. Driving a very low Porsche 550 Spyder, Herrmann decided it was too late for a brake attempt anyway, knocked on the back of the helmet of his navigator Herbert Linge to make him duck, and they barely passed below the gates and before the train, to the surprise of the spectators. Herrmann was less lucky in 1955, having to abandon the race after a brake failure on the Futa Pass between Florence and Bologna, while Kling crashed just outside Rome.

After 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds, Moss/Jenkinson arrived in Brescia in their Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR with the now famous #722, setting the event record at an average of 157.650 km/h (97.96 mph) which was fastest ever on this 1,597 km (992 mi) variant of the course, not to be beaten in the remaining two years. Fangio arrived a few minutes later in the #658 car, but having started 24 min earlier, it actually took him about 30 minutes longer, having engine problems at Pescara, through Rome and by the time Fangio reached Florence, a fuel injection pipe had broken and he was running on 7 cylinders.[4]

The end

Memorial to victims of Mille Miglia where the fatal crash happened on 12 May 1957.

The race was forever banned after two fatal crashes in the 1957 race. The first was the crash of a 4.0-litre Ferrari 335 S that took the lives of the Spanish driver Alfonso de Portago, his co-driver/navigator Edmund Nelson, and nine spectators, at the village of Guidizzolo.[3] Five of the spectators killed were children, all of whom were standing along the race course. Portago, already unsettled by doing a race he felt was too dangerous, waited too long to make a tyre change. The crash was caused by a worn tyre. The manufacturer was sued for this, as was the Ferrari team.

The second car crash, in Brescia, took the life of Joseph Göttgens. He was driving a Triumph TR3.

From 1958 to 1961, the event resumed as a rallying-like round trip at legal speeds with a few special stages driven at full speed, but this was discontinued also.

From 1927 to 1957, the race took the lives of a total of 56 people.[5]

Mille Miglia winners

Year Drivers Car Picture of winners & cars
1927 Italy Ferdinando Minoia
Italy Giuseppe Morandi
OM 665 S 1927-03-27 Mille Miglia winner OM 665 Minoia Morandi.jpg1927-03-27 Mille Miglia winners OM 665 Minoia Mirando.jpg
1928 Italy Giuseppe Campari
Italy Giulio Ramponi
Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 Super Sport Spider Zagato 1928-04-01 Mille Miglia winner Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 Campari Ramponi.jpg
1929 Italy Giuseppe Campari
Italy Giulio Ramponi
Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Super Sport Spider Zagato 1929-04-14 Mille Miglia winner Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Campari Ramponi.jpg
1930 Italy Tazio Nuvolari
Italy Battista Guidotti
Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spider Zagato 1930-04-13 Mille Miglia winner Alfa Romeo Nuvolari Guidotti.jpg 1930-04-13 Mille Miglia winners Nuvolari e Guidotto.jpg
1931 Germany Rudolf Caracciola
Germany Wilhelm Sebastian
Mercedes-Benz SSKL 1931-04-12 Mille Miglia winner Mercedes SSKL Caracciola e Sebastian.jpg
1932 Italy Baconin Borzacchini
Italy Amedeo Bignami
Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider Touring 1932MilleMiglia-Borzacchini-Bignami-Alfa.jpg
1933 Italy Tazio Nuvolari
Italy Decimo Compagnoni
Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider Zagato 1933-04-09 Mille Miglia winner Alfa Romeo 8C Nuvolari e Compagnoni.jpg
1934 Italy Achille Varzi
Italy Amedeo Bignami
Alfa Romeo 8C 2600 Monza Spider Brianza 1934-04-08 Mille Miglia winner Alfa Romeo 8C 2600 Varzi Bignami.jpg
1935 Italy Carlo Maria Pintacuda
Italy Alessandro Della Stufa
Alfa Romeo Tipo B 1935-04-14 Mille Miglia winners Alfa 8C 2900B Pintacuda e Della Stufa e Ferrari.jpg
1936 Italy Antonio Brivio
Italy Carlo Ongaro
Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 A 1936-05-03 Mille Miglia winner Alfa Romeo 8C 2900A Brivio Ongaro.jpg
1937 Italy Carlo Maria Pintacuda
Italy Paride Mambelli
Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 A 1937-04-04 Mille Miglia winner Alfa Romeo 8C 2900A Pintacua e Mambelli.png
1938 Italy Clemente Biondetti
Italy Aldo Stefani
Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Spider MM Touring 1938-04-03 Mille Miglia winner Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B sn412031 Biondetti Stefani.jpg 1938ClementeBiondetti.jpg
1939 No race held
1940 Germany Huschke von Hanstein
Germany Walter Bäumer
BMW 328 Berlinetta Touring 1940-04-28 Mille Miglia winner BMW 328 von Hanstein e Bäumer.jpg
1941-46 No races held
1947 Italy Clemente Biondetti
Italy Emilio Romano
Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Berlinetta Touring 1947 Mille Miglia Alfa 8C 2900B Biondetti.jpg
1948 Italy Clemente Biondetti
Italy Giuseppe Navone
Ferrari 166 S Coupé Allemano 1948-04-24 Mille Miglia Ferrari 166 sn003S winner Biondetti Navone.jpg
1949 Italy Clemente Biondetti
Italy Ettore Salani
Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta Touring 1949-04-24 Mille Miglia WINNER Ferrari 166 0008M Biondetti boy.jpg
1950 Italy Giannino Marzotto
Italy Marco Crosara
Ferrari 195 S Berlinetta Touring 1950-04-23 Mille Miglia Ferrari 166 sn0026M Marzotto Crosara.jpg
1951 Italy Luigi Villoresi
Italy Pasquale Cassani
Ferrari 340 America Berlinetta Vignale 1951-04-28-Ferrari340-0082A-MilleMiglia-Villoresi-crashfront.jpg
1952 Italy Giovanni Bracco
Italy Alfonso Rolfo
Ferrari 250 S Berlinetta Vignale 1952-05-04 Mille Miglia Ferrari 250S sn0156ET Bracco Rolfo wins.jpg
1953 Italy Giannino Marzotto
Italy Marco Crosara
Ferrari 340 MM Spyder Vignale 1953-04-26 Mille Miglia Ferrari 340 sn0280AM Marzotto Crosara.jpg
1954 Italy Alberto Ascari Lancia D24 Spider 1954-05-02 Mille Miglia winner Lancia D24 Ascari.jpg
1955 United Kingdom Stirling Moss
United Kingdom Denis Jenkinson
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR 1955-05-01 Mille Miglia winner Mercedes 300 SLR Moss e Jenkinson.jpg 1955-05-01 Mille Miglia winners Jenkinson and Moss.jpg
1956 Italy Eugenio Castellotti Ferrari 290 MM Spyder Scaglietti 1956-04-29 Mille Miglia Ferrari 290MM sn0616 Castellotti.jpg
1957 Italy Piero Taruffi Ferrari 315 S 1957-05-12 Mille Miglia winners Ferrari 315 Taruffi sn0684 e von Trips sn0674.jpg

Mille Miglia Storica

Mille Miglia Storica
First race17-19 June 1977
Last race15-18 June 2022
Distance1,000 miles (approximately)
Most wins (driver)Italy Giuliano Canè (10)
Most wins (team)Italy Giuliano Canè / Lucia Galliani (9)
Most wins (manufacturer)Italy Alfa Romeo (11)

Since 1977, the race was revived as the Mille Miglia Storica, a parade for pre-1957 cars that takes several days, which also spawned the 2007 documentary film Mille Miglia - The Spirit of a Legend.

Mika Häkkinen and Juan Manuel Fangio II at 2011 Mille Miglia
Jeremy Irons at 2014 Mille Miglia

Mille Miglia Storica winners


Mille Miglia Museum

The Mille Miglia Museum in Brescia.

Since November 2004, the former Monastery of Sant'Eufemia in Brescia houses the Mille Miglia Museum, which illustrates the history of this car race with films, memorabilia, dresses, posters, and a number of classic cars that are periodically replaced by other in case of participation in events.

Name usage

Owner of the trademark logo of Mille Miglia is the Automobile Club Brescia.

Mille Miglia is also the name of Alitalia's frequent flyer program.

Mille Miglia is also the name of a jacket, named after the race, inspired by the 1920s racewear and designed by Massimo Osti for his CP Company clothing label.[] The garment features goggles built into the hood and originally had a small circular window in the sleeve enabling the wearer to see their watch. The jackets have been produced for a long period and are still popular with British football casuals.

As a sponsor and timekeeper of the Storica event, the event has lent its name and its trademark logo to Chopard for a series of sports watches.[] For promotions, Chopard uses photographs from the event by photographer Giacomo Bretzel.

Mille Miglia Red is the name for a colour used by Chevrolet on its Corvette models. The colour was offered between 1972 and 1975.[7]

In 1982 the Mille Miglia endurance race was revived as a road rally event.[8]

"Mille Miglia" is also the title of a song from Lucio Dalla's album Automobili (1976). The song describes anecdotes about the 1947 edition of the race.

Kaneko released two arcade games based on the race in 1994 (1000 Miglia: Great 1000 Miles Rally) and 1995 (Mille Miglia 2: Great 1000 Miles Rally). SCi Games released a PlayStation game simply named Mille Miglia and endorsed by Stirling Moss in 2000 in PAL regions.

In 2008, Alfa Romeo created a limited edition version of its Tipo 939 Spider called the "Mille Miglia". Only 11 cars were built - 8 left-hand drive and 3 right-hand driver - with each numbered car corresponding to one of the marque's Mille Miglia victories. Each car carried a small metal plate with details of the race.[9]

See also


  1. ^ "Mille Miglia". Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ MacKenzie, Angus (February 2013). "The Most Epic Drive. Ever". Motor Trend. 65 (2): 88. With an estimated 5 million Italians out watching the race, crowd control was another cause for concern.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Tausen Meilen Nostalgie". Auto Motor u. Sport. Heft 16 1977: Seite 18-19. 3 August 1977.
  4. ^ fp46racing. "Juan Manuel Fangio - Tribute by Stirling Moss pt 2". YouTube. Retrieved 2011.[dead YouTube link]
  5. ^ The Motorsport Memorial Team. "Car and truck fatalities by circuit". Motorsport Memorial. Retrieved 2011.
  6. ^ Garrett, Jerry. "Argentines Win the 2013 Mille Miglia".
  7. ^ Binnie Langley. "Corvette C3 Colors and Paint Color Codes for Corvettes". Retrieved 2011.
  8. ^ Cheer, Louise (15 June 2022). "1000 Miglia: Your guide to the ultimate race for classic car enthusiasts". Supercar Blondie - Automotive, Gaming, Tech, Lifestyle, Watches. Retrieved 2022.
  9. ^ James Martinez. "Alfa Romeo builds special-edition Mille Miglia Spider - Motor Authority 16th May 2008". Retrieved 2021.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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