TODAY THE FAMOUS VINTAGE CAR RACE BETWEEN BRESCIA AND ROM STILL BRISTLES WITH PURE ADVENTURE.
Since its inception in 1927 the Mille Miglia has been ranked as the best known open-road race in the world. 90 years later I ventured out on the tracks of legendary racing drivers such as Stirling Moss, the record holder for the Mille Miglia.
10:07:48.000 hours! The Chopard employees, as official timekeepers for the Mille Miglia open-road race, would not believe their eyes today if a car crossed the line with this time at the end of the vintage car race spanning 1000 miles (or approximately 1600 kilometres) between the start and finishing point Brescia and the turning point in Rome. However in 1955 this is exactly what racing driver Stirling Moss managed to achieve. Accompanied by his co-driver Denis Jenkinson, the British man raced with his Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR along the entire route between North and South Italy at an average speed of a phenomenal 157.651 kilometres per hour – incidentally on public roads and through countless villages and cities! Stirling Moss’s unbelievable journey became legendary and contributed greatly to the fact that the Mille Miglia still ranks among vintage car enthusiasts as one of the greatest adventures that can be experienced today at the wheel of a classic sports car, 90 years after its first staging and 35 years after the revival of the race event in the anniversary year of 2017.
I was particularly proud to sit in one of the 440 vintage cars approved to start the race and to be able to inhale the unique atmosphere of the Mille Miglia. Every year the starting places for the classic event are highly coveted. This year again 695 owners of exquisite classic vehicles applied from 41 countries and five continents to take part. Not an easy task for the jury to make a selection from this huge number of candidates. Because only original cars manufactured between 1927 and 1957 are permitted to take part in the «most beautiful race in the world». If you receive authorization to start the race, you have basically only managed to negotiate the first turn, as a number of others will follow during the long days in the Mille Miglia, as I can now report from my own experience. The race does not only last one day, as in Stirling Moss‘ era. Today the 1600 kilometres are run in four daily stages: Brescia-Padova, Padova-Rome, Rome-Parma and Parma-Brescia.
Four days, which will stay in my memory for a long time to come and which I would like to repeat as soon as possible. Because rarely have I met so many highly interesting people in such a short time span, all with petrol pumping through their veins and possessed by the same passion for classic vehicles. Adrenaline accumulates during the day on the winding roads through Tuscany and in the evening gives way to well-earned fatigue among the gregarious passengers, an unforgettable feeling. Another highlight of the journey was the perfect support from the Chopard team, which made the Mille Miglia experience most memorable for me – and resulted in several realisations: In those days Stirling Moss definitely didn’t notice a trace of the beauty of the route, which I relished along the way. Of course, I too perspired during the race days in the month of May, I too regretted once or twice that the luxury of my vintage car sports car left a lot to be desired. And yes, it wasn’t always as easy to get our bearings on the long journey through Italy as we had previously thought. But the wonderful countryside, the heartfelt hospitality of the people on the way, and the heart-warming feeling of happiness when crossing the finishing line in Brescia remain unforgettable. And the time Chopard recorded for us at the end of the day, remains my secret. I’ll just say this: It was worlds apart from Stirling Moss‘ record.
Photos Copyrights: Chopard