Alfa Romeo and the Mille Miglia
Alfa Romeo has always been one of the dominant forces of the Mille Miglia endurance race, with their most recent first place win having been the 2008 race, when Luciano and Antonio Viaro finished the race in a 1982 Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 Super Sport, but the real golden age for the Alfas in the Mille Miglia would have to be those first thirteen races, when Alfa Romeo simply dominated the race for all but three events.
An O.M. 665 S took the first race in 1927, but 1928 through 1930 all went to Alfa, with a 6C 1500 Sport Spider Zagato taking ’28, a 6C 1750 SS Spider Zagato in ’29, both of these driven by Giuseppe Campari and Giulio Ramponi, and a 6C 1750 GS Spider Zagato driven by the legendary Tazio Nuvolari in 1930.
1000 miglia 1933 - Tazio Nuvolari
This win by Nuvolari in particular is of note. Nuvolari had started after his team-mate and rival Achille Varzi, and while Nuvolari had been leading the pack, for the most part, Varzi managed to stay a step ahead of him. Nuvolari came up with a brilliant plan to overtake his rival. In the dim light of early dawn, he tailed Varzi with his headlights off.
This lent his rival a false sense of security, believing himself to be well in the lead, as he couldn’t see Nuvolari behind him. However, as soon as they came upon the straight roads leading up to the finish line, Nuvolari sped up, pulled alongside Varzi, and flicked his headlights on, taking him entirely by surprise and dashing straight across the finish line before Varzi even had time to realize what was going on.
Germans Rudolf Caracciola and Wilhelm Sebastian took the 1931 race in a Mercedes-Benz SSK despite having little financial support from the Mercedes factory due to the economic crisis, but the following year, Alfa would begin an unprecedented streak of seven straight first place wins in as many years, with the BC 2300 Spider Touring winning in ‘32, Tazio Nuvolari’s Spider Zagato in ‘33, Spider Brianza in ‘34, BC 2900 Tipo B in ‘35, BC 2900A in both ’36 and ’37, and finally, a 2900 Spider MM Touring in ’38.
This solid winning streak went a long way towards helping to establish Alfa Romeo as a quality brand. Those first wins by Giuseppe Campari in particular were integral to establishing Alfa Romeo as not only a solid carmaker, but as one of cultural significance.
The win streak ended, however, in 1940, Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Baumer took the race in a BMW 328 Berlinetta Touring for the last pre World War II Mille Miglia, but Alfa would stage a comeback in 1947 with a BC 2900 B Berlinetta Touring grabbing the top spot once again.
The next six wins of the post-war Mille Miglia period would go to Ferrar, but no brand has since touched Alfa Romeo’s seven year winning streak in the race, and the brand has remained a vital hallmark of the Mille Miglia from the first race in 1927 to the most recent in 2009.
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