The first running of the Mille Miglia was in 1927. The race was run until 1957 and re-established in 1977.
Latest Activity: Apr 11, 2018
“To me the Mille Miglia was certainly the finest road race of them all, but although I loved it, I was always afraid of taking part…. In 1955 when I won in the Mercedes with “Jenks” we were travelling at up to 180 mph on open roads. Although the brakes were very good – there was a constant nagging fear that if anything went wrong there was nothing we could have done about it. We had a fabulous drive and it was nice to make a bit of Mille Miglia history together, as my time of 10 hours 7 minutes 48 seconds at an average speed of 98.53 mph for the 1,000 miles was never beaten” - Stirling Moss
The first running of the Mille Miglia was in 1927 in torrential rain. The history of the Mille Miglia beaks down distinctly into pre and post war segments. In the post war decade from 1947 to 1957 the event was rapidly re-established as a world leading competition. Major sports car manufacturers would enter works cars employing some of the top drivers of the day to win the 1000 Miglia for them. Enzo Ferrari said “The Mille Miglia created our cars and the Italian Automobile industry”.
Twenty years after it was abandoned on grounds of safety, the Mille Miglia was revived as a retrospective in 1977 and it has become a pinnacle of its type for serious collectors to participate in. Only the very best cars in the world of the types that took part in period are selected.
As a result, the Milan Automobile Club became an independent entity and severed its ties to Brescia, until then a section of the Milan Automobile Club.
This was regarded as a grave insult by the people of Brescia, particularly since Brescia had been one of the main cradles of Italian motor sport - ever since 1899 when the Brescia-Cremona-Mantua-Verona-Brescia race had been run during the traditional August Fair, over a distance of 220 kilometres, and repeated again the next year when it was unfortunately marred by a serious accident. Brescia's links with motor sport continued in 1904 with the ' Settimana Motoristica' (Motor sport week) and in 1905 with the Coppa Florio run on the Montechiari Circuit. In the same year some of the first speedboat races to be held in Italy took place on nearby Lake Garda and the city's pioneering spirit was again underlined in 1909 when the Brescia 'Circuito aereo' introduced competitive aeronautics to Italy.
When the Brescia Automobile Club was formed the insult still rankled and it was clear that something had to be done - something spectacular that would be a satisfactory response but, at the same time, would not offend the sensibilities of the RACI or the ACM, both headed at the time by Senator Silvio Crespi.
What was decided was that the Club would organize a long distance race for production cars that would differ from the French Bol d'or [dating from 1922] and Grand Prix d'Endurance de 24 heures, 'Coupe Rudge Whitworth' [held from 1923 onwards and later known as the Le Mans 24 Hours] and other similar events such as the Gran Premio Turismo, a 24 hour race, run only once at Monza in 1926. It would not be linked to any circuit, would be easy to service and supply and would cover a large part of Italy, virtually taking the cars to the front doors of potential buyers. This was the equivalent of an advertising brainwave and attracted strong interest from the car manufacturers, which were struggling to sell their products at the time. It gave them an ideal opportunity to overcome the poor reputation their products had for reliability. It was also popular with the Government. It would present the modern face of Italy to the world as well as stimulating the popularity of motor vehicle use and thereby benefitting the industry, providing jobs and increasing revenue from taxes.
The Italian people would also derive a marginal benefit from improvements to the roads used in the race - a lingering problem from the time of the birth of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
It was at this time that the legend surrounding the origin of the name Mille Miglia was born. It has been recorded, with some variations in the details, at least three times by Canestrini over the years; in the 1930 edition of 'Numero Unico', in 1962 in his 'Una vita con le corse [a life in racing]' and, finally, in 1967 in 'Mille Miglia’.
I was not expecting visitors on that Christmas Eve in 1926; I was daydreaming, slumped in an armchair in my little study in Via Bonaventura Cavallieri in Milan, when I heard someone calling me from the courtyard. It was the hoarse voice of Aymo Maggi and I recognised it immediately. I looked out of the window and there, down in the courtyard, was Maggi with Franco Mazzotti, Renzo Castagneto and Baron Monti. All Brescia men. “What do they want”, I thought, “on Christmas Eve?”
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