Mille Miglia: What’s so special about this Italian road race?


Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Laura Teso

La Mille Miglia [MEEL -leh MEEL-yah], meaning 1000 Miles, is the most famous and exclusive race for classic cars in the world.

Originally it was an open road endurance race. It took place from 1927 until 1961. Starting from 1977 it was then restored as a regularity race.

Competitors must fulfill two conditions:

  1. only classic and vintage cars, produced within 1957, can attend.
  2. they must have attended the original race (or at least have been registered to it).

The route is a round trip starting and returing in Brescia (Lombardia), and passing (among other places) by Parco Sigurtà, Verona, Asolo, Padova, Ferrara, Perugia, Roma, Radicofani, Siena, Parma, Mantova.

Mille Miglia Map foto ©
Mille Miglia Map foto ©

Why the Mille Miglia?

The first Italian Grand Prix motor racing took place in 1921 at a circuit close to Brescia. But, starting from the following year, the new racing facility of Monza became the permanent location.

Counts Aymo Maggi, Franco Mazzotti and pilot Renzo Castagneto decided to plan their own race, starting from and returning to Brescia, passing by Rome, with a distance of 1.600 km (about 1000 miles, hence the name).

It should have been a unique event, but the race was so successful that it was repeated.

Thanks to the this race brands like Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Mercedes Benz and Ferrari became famous all over the world.

Spider in Brescia, foto ©
Spider in Brescia, foto ©

Mille Miglia Museum

If you are in Brescia, you can also visit the Mille Miglia Museum at the former Monastery of S. Eufemia. The museum displays memorabilia, posters, the history of the race and some beautiful classic cars.

The myth

In order for you to understand the importance of this race I leave you with the words by Giuseppe Tonelli (1927):

Mille Miglia; something undefined, outside the natural, reminding of old fairy tales us boys used to listen to, avidly; stories of fairies, wizard with boots, of endless horizons. Mille Miglia: evocative phrase that now shows the progress of means and boldness of men. Crazy, draining race, without pit stops, through countryside and city, mountains and seashores, day and night. Road tapes running beneath the roaring machines, eyes that do not close to sleep, faces that do not tremble, pilots with nerves of steel.

Mille Miglia, foto ©
Mille Miglia, foto ©

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