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Mille Miglia - 1000 Smiles

6 May 2010

The Mille Miglia retrospective gets under way in Brescia today - we are there to celebrate 100 years of Alfa Romeo
The Mille Miglia is one of the cornerstones of motor racing. Run over 30 years from 1927 to '57, it is said that the 1000-mile race from Brescia in the northeast of Italy to Rome and back up to Brescia on a more westerly road, was the one aspect that contributed more to the development of the motorcar than anything else in history.

The rigours of the Mille Miglia forced cars to be fast track developed to withstand those demands on every aspect - from the chassis strength to suspension agility and engine power to such rudimentary aspects as the filaments of light bulbs needed to shine bright for many long hours road racing through the dark without breaking.

Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, Maserati, Aston Martin, Fiat and Ferrari were just some of the brands that sought greatness on the Mille Miglia and the event became legend in history. The fastest-ever Mille Miglia was won by Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson in a Mercedes-Benz SLR who completed the 1000 mile epic in under nine hours in 1955 - that's an astounding average speed of over 160km/h!

Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, BMW, Lancia, Mercedes-Benz and a few others won the Mille Miglia over the years and drivers like Moss, Tazio Nuvolari, Luigi Farina and so many others made the Mile Miglia their own, but time and fate caught up with the event and it was stopped for good after the Marqis de Portago crashed his Ferrari at great speed and de Portago, his navigator Klemantaski and 11 spectators including seven children died in a horror accident.

The Mille Miglia was consigned to the history books, to become a fantastical memory.

But in the early 1980s, a group of enthusiasts came together and planned to bring back the Mille Miglia - not as a race per se, but as a retrospective to celebrate those glorious racing years with a retrospective run catering for the original cars that competed in a celebration of it's glorious past.

The Mille Miglia retrospective has become a legend in it's own right - it has contributed handsomely to historically significant motorcars becoming hugely valuable and prized posessions and it is today as much the domain of top collectors and aficianados as it has the playground of the world's carmakers lucky enough to have an original Mille Miglia history.

And the carmaker with the biggest Mille Miglia history - the carmaker that has the biggest claim to Mille Miglia fame is Alfa Romeo. Next month, Alfa Romeo celebrates it's centenary and we are in Italy with Alfa Romeo driving it's new Giulietta with the Mille Miglia...

To help celebrate, we will look at Alfa Romeo's Mille Miglia history as the weekend progresses, but for now, enjoy a few images of the first day of the 2010 Mille Miglia as 375 cars converged on Brescia to celebrate the world's greatest race...

Main: A Cisitalia backs up alongside a Ferrari after registration downtown Brescia
Left from top to bottom:
  1. A Ferrari 500 TR driving on the square
  2. Ferrari 356MM in Argentine national colours
  3. A green 1946 Ferrari 166 - one of the first Ferraris
  4. Spectacular Ferrari among the bustle of Mille Miglia scruitineering
  5. A blue Maserati 200S roars through Brescia Thursday afternoon
  6. The crowd throngs around a 1955 Porsche RS Spyder
  7. A brand new restored 1953 Fiat 8V Zagato
  8. '57 class winning Fiat 8V Zagato was restored in SA in 1985
  9. The BMW that won the Mille Miglia in 1940 - 70 years on!
10. Glorious Alfa Romeo 1750 6C - come back for more Alfas tomorrow
11. Red 1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK-L
12. Every 1960s boy's Dinky Toy - this Jaguar D-Type is real though!
14. Panamera Mexicana Mecedes SL among many Gullwings today
15. Another Mexican Carrera racer in Italy - this is a 1950 Alfa Romeo
16. Bugatti Type 35 presented  for Scruitineering in Brescia Thursday
17. A stunning original condition MG K3 Magnette as it raced in 1935
18. Brescia's Piazza Vittorio awaits the start of the 2010 Mille Miglia

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