Traveling Boy Bloggers on the
The Most Beautiful Race
In the World
Story and photos by Tom Weber
reflecting off ancient cobblestone streets, they rolled in two-by-two.
Navigating their classic sports cars engines and chassis defying
Father Time 415 pairs of drivers and their numbered craft paraded
into and out of Vicenzas Centro Storico like an army on a mission,
then quickly raced on into the night retracing the route of an historic
road race known the world over as the Mille Miglia (1,000 Miles).
Mother Nature was not on her best behavior or
she just wanted to make the endurance that much tougher on "horse
and rider" as she pelted the "City
of Palladio" earlier in the day with heavy rains, making the
centuries-old stone below precarious and the road-weary pilots above
Under cover of umbrellas, thousands of Vicentini
lined the route cheering loudly as each team honked as they sped by.
Collectively, the fans felt goose bumps, the kind one feels when one
has just witnessed history on four wheels roll right on by.
If pasta, pomodori and Prosecco help define
Italy's dinner table, then motor racing, of ANY kind, helps define
the Bel Paese's unquenchable thirst for competition. And no single
race stirred that passion in her citizenry more than the Mille Miglia
did. In the words of one of racing world's most famous personalities,
the late Enzo Ferrari, the Mille Miglia was, la corsa più
bella del mondo (the most beautiful race in the world).
The 1,000-mi. road race, rounded up from the actual
distance of 992 mi., was a pedal-to-the-metal, white-knuckled, no-holds-barred
road race a la the chariot race scene from Ben Hur
that ran on public roads lined by millions of spectators from Brescia
up north to Rome
down south and back.
Today, the race is an annual commemorative rally dubbed
the Mille Miglia Storica. It's still run on public roads during
May and follows pretty much the same route as that of the classic; but,
where the road race focused on neck-breaking, daredevil speeds over
one non-stop, frenetic day, the Storica focuses on rally skills
and safety over a less stressful three-day period.
The original "double M" thundered through
six regions and one tiny republic, avoiding man and beast most of the
time, from 1927 until 1957. It was legendary British racecar driver
Sir Sterling Moss who set the record in the 1955 edition, covering the
circuit in just 10 hrs. 7 min. 48 sec.
Unfortunately, Moss' record-setting pace was one of
the major reasons why the road-race format was eventually discontinued.
Many drivers were hell-bent on breaking Moss' record,
only to fail. Marquis Alfonso de Portago, racing against the clock,
died during the 1957 event when the Ferrari he was piloting blew a tire
and flipped end-over-end into the crowd killing his co-pilot and nine
spectators just a handful of miles shy of a top-four finish.
After that fateful '57 race, the Mille Miglia
came to a screeching halt and ended up on blocks for nearly 25 years
until the format was retooled. With new life in the tank, the event
returned to the open road as the more sedate Mille Miglia Storica.
The iconic Sig. Ferrari got it absolutely correct back
then in his description of the Mille Miglia. Even in today's
reformatted version, it still remains the most beautiful race in the
Auto Show, Vicenza; Piazza
dei Signori, Vicenza; Monte
The City of Palladio; Basilica