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The Mille Miglia Of Today

Updated on July 11, 2011

For the uninitiated, Mille Miglia is an Italian name which translates to Thousand Miles, and is, as one might guess, a thousand mile endurance race across Italy.

While the first Mille Miglia races ran from 1927 to 1957, today's races really began in 1982, and, in honor of the original races, the drivers always compete in cars from the 1927 to 1957 era.

This is part of a series of hubs on the Mille Miglia. I recently took my Father - a classic car buff all his life (that's him on the right in his 2009 MM cap) to watch the 2009 race, for the trip of a lifetime. Only problem is, we're now bitten by the most beautiful car race in the world, and are already tentatively planning next year's trip!

Ermini 1100 Sport Siluro (1949)

and my Dad in his red Mille Miglia cap!
and my Dad in his red Mille Miglia cap!

Being an endurance race, it is not speed that makes the grade, but timing, tuning and some smart planning. The winning competitors are those who know how to pace themselves, to plan their trip as such to not get stuck waiting for a train to pass, and who make sure to keep their automobiles in check along the way so as not to risk a blown cylinder or a busted tire on the final stretch.

Regarded as the most beautiful automobile race in the world, the Mille Miglia is followed closely every year by the press, by fans on Google Earth, and has been documented for the last two decades by photographer Giacomo Bretzel.

Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport 1930 (2008 winner is the car on the right)

It's fair to say that the race is generally dominated by Alfa Romeos, BMWs, and Ferraris, like the 1928 Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 Super Sport that took the top spot in 2007 and 2008, and the BMW 328 series which has taken a total of six races over the years, but you'll also see some Bugattis, Austin Healys, Bristols, Lamborghinis, Fiats and Mercedes-Benzes racing - and sometimes even in first place now and then.

What all the cars have in common is that they are amongst the beautiful and finely engineered vehicles in the world. In that the Mille Miglia is the polar opposite of drag racing, these aren't cars designed for quick bursts of speed, but cars designed to truly go the distance. Or to put it bluntly; only the most prestigious cars in the world are on display at the world's most prestigious endurance race.

Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider (1955)

2009 Winner - Bugatti Type 37 (1927)

The history of the race is preserved at the Mille Miglia Museum in Brescia, where you'll see all of the most important event cars from the races over the years, including recent winners like the 1927 Bugatti Type 37 that took first place in 2009, back to the 1956 O.S.C.A. MT 4 that won the 1982 Mille Miglia, as well as plenty of the classics from the 1927-1957 races.

Eighty odd years after its inception, the Mille Miglia remains the gold standard for the endurance race, with some of the most well made cars on the planet being driven across beautiful Italian countryside by some of the world's best drivers.

Bandini 750 Sport (1953)

If you ever have an opportunity to attend one of these races yourself, do! Yes, you can watch the race via Google Earth to mark the progress of each individual racer, but watching dots move around on a map isn't quite the same as being there in person, feeling the earth rumble as high powered machines charge past, the smell of the fuel, the burning rubber, the Mille Miglia is a full sensory experience, and if you can't drive in the race, spectating first hand is the next best thing.

On-board camera shows why this race is so spectacular!

This hub brought to you...

by Julie-Ann Amos, professional writer, and owner of international writing agency

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    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 8 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Hi Graham and thanks for the kind words. I LOVE the MM and yet it's so hard to get any info! Do feel free to let me know if you find out anything and I'll add it to the page.

    • profile image

      Graham Lane 8 years ago

      As founder fo the first slot car version of the Mille Miglia held this year I am a big fan of the Mille Miglia and the cars and drivers that took part. I would seriously like to be a member of this hub and thank Julie-Ann for her excellent work in putting it together.

      The Mini Mille Miglia has Sir Stirling Moss as its official patron, Scalextric as one of the major sponsors, and the Alzheimer's Research Trust as its beneficiary. It will be held again next year to coincide with the full-size Mille Miglia in May. I am keen to get the dates set but can only find reference to it on the Continental Hotel's website which says 13th to 17th May. How do they know?

      Best regards

      Graham Lane

    • Pete Maida profile image

      Pete Maida 8 years ago

      I'd hate to flip over in one of those little things; I don't even see any roll bars.