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1000 Miglia, the Passion for Driving.

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The 1000 Miglia is the image of progress, technical, social and human progress, and we do well to celebrate it because this re-evocation of the past helps the future.
Mille Miglia

The Italian poet Ada Negri once beautifully expressed the joy of travelling in a motor car:

Among modern pleasures, there is nothing better than travelling in a motor car. In our car, which obeys only us, which takes us where we want to go, our need for freedom becomes certainty of freedom, a sense of fullness, of escape, of possession of time and space, which transcends human limits."

1000 Miglia
Jaguar XK140 SE OTS Roadster (1956)

Imagine a captivating journey through the enchanting landscapes of Italy, where vintage cars come to life and take centre stage. This is the essence of the 1000 Miglia (Mille Miglia), an iconic race that traces its roots back to 1927. Originally a speed race, it has evolved into a regular race for historic cars. On 17th June, the longest edition in the history of the 1000 Miglia ended as the crews crossed Italy, covering 2200 kilometres over the five days of the race from Brescia to Rome and back.

 

If you’re a vintage car enthusiast or simply appreciate beautiful designs, the 1000 Miglia is an event not to be missed. Where else can you witness the splendour of a 1923 3 Litre Bentley, a Bugatti T37 from 1927, a 1933 Aston Martin Le Mans, or a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, all gathered in one place? Typically, such treasures are confined to car museums, lifelessly lined up for inspection. However, the 1000 Miglia offers a unique experience, with over 400 vintage automobiles roaring to life as their owners drive them on the open road.

Porsche 356 A 1500 GS Carrera (1956)
Porsche 356 A 1500 GS Carrera (1956)
Mille Miglia
Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W198)

To participate in the modern re-enactment of the race, a car model must have taken part in at least one edition of the Mille Miglia between 1927 and 1957. This exclusivity ensures the race’s authenticity and originality. In the most recent edition in 2023, among the 405 certified cars, 74 vehicles had participated in the original 1000 Miglia race held from 1927 to 1957. For drivers lucky enough to command these certified automobiles, the 1000 Miglia is hailed as “the most beautiful race in the world.” And for spectators, it is undeniably the “world’s unique travelling museum,” as the renowned Enzo Ferrari describes.

 

Imagine the scene at Viale Venezia, Brescia, where the race has commenced since its inception. At 1 pm on 13th June, after a satisfying lunch, the cars are meticulously aligned according to their sequential numbers, organized by the year of production, eagerly awaiting their turn to cross the start line. What makes this racing event truly extraordinary is its participants. Among the seasoned drivers with their distinguished grey and silver hair, there are also first-time newcomers, like Ian Whistondale and Lawrence Gardiner from Great Britain, proudly navigating their 1926 3-litre Bentley. “We’ve driven this car in South Africa and many other places around the world, but this year marks our first time in the Mille Miglia,” they exclaim with excitement. And there are even a couple of remarkable female drivers, such as Katarina Kyvalova, the founder of Bentleybelle, an all-female racing team, who embarks on her 8th Mille Miglia in a 1928 4.5 Litre S.C. Bentley. Families, too, participate in the race, creating enduring memories and transforming the competitive event into a joyous family affair. As the engines rev, the atmosphere is filled with lightheartedness, pure enjoyment, and an exhilarating sense of anticipation. Racing with his daughter, the American entrepreneur Balaji Ramamoorthy is captured seated inside his 1953 Ferrari 375 mm Spider Pininfarina, savouring a cup of gelato while waiting for his number to be called.

Balaji Ramamoorthy enjoying gelato inside his Ferrari 375mm Spider Pininfarina (1953)
Balaji Ramamoorthy enjoying gelato inside his Ferrari 375mm Spider Pininfarina (1953)
Ferrari 166mm Spider Vignale (1953)
Ferrari 166mm Spider Vignale (1953)
Mar-Julian Siewert and Moritz Hardieck pushing their Jaguar XK120 OTS Roadster (1950) to the starting point.
Mar-Julian Siewert and Moritz Hardieck pushing their Jaguar XK120 OTS Roadster (1950) to the starting point.
Lancia Lambda Torpedo Tipo (1927)
Lancia Lambda Torpedo Tipo (1927)
Ian Whistondale and Lawrence Gardiner driving a 3/4.5 Lire Bentley (1926)
Ian Whistondale and Lawrence Gardiner driving a 3/4.5 Lire Bentley (1926)
Silvia Marini & Irene dei Tos and their 1929 Bugatti T40
Silvia Marini & Irene dei Tos and their 1929 Bugatti T40
Silvia Marini & Irene dei Tos and their 1929 Bugatti T40
Alfa Romeo 8C 2600mm Spider Zagato *SF* (1931)
Alfa Romeo 8C 2600mm Spider Zagato *SF* (1931)

For over three decades, Chopard has proudly served as the world sponsor and official timekeeper of the 1000 Miglia. The chairman of Chopard, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, together with his co-pilot Jacky Ickx, a legendary former F-1 driver and a six-time winner of the Le Mans 24-hour race, races for the Chopard team with a Mercedes-Benz 300SL. Joining them is George Wang, the publisher of The Rake (China), and Chinese actor Zhu Yilong, racing on behalf of Chopard. Stepping into the cockpit of these vintage cars reveals a striking difference in dimensions compared to their modern counterparts. Taller drivers find themselves contorting to fit into these smaller spaces, as George reveals after completing the two-day race from Brescia to Rome in a 1952 Florentine car, an Ermini Gilco 1100 Motto. “My leg is still suffering from muscle soreness,” he confesses, “but it was an immensely enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to do it again next year!”

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele in Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W198) during 1000 Miglia
Karl-Friedrich Scheufele in Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W198) during 1000 Miglia
Karl-Friedrich Scheufele & Jacky Ickx in Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W198) during 1000 Miglia
Karl-Friedrich Scheufele & Jacky Ickx in Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W198)
George Wang driving an Ermini Gilco 1100 Motto (1952)
George Wang driving an Ermini Gilco 1100 Motto (1952)
George Wang wearing the 40.5mm Chopard 2023 MILLE MIGLIA Classic Chronograph
George Wang wearing the 40.5mm Chopard 2023 MILLE MIGLIA Classic Chronograph
Zhu YiLong (演員朱一龍)and Romain Dumas in Porsche 356 1500 Speedster (1955)
Zhu YiLong (演員朱一龍)and Romain Dumas in Porsche 356 1500 Speedster (1955)

Shortly before the engines roar to life, reigning champions Andrea Vesco and his co-pilot Fabio Salvinelli, driving a 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Zagato, share their thoughts: “With almost thirty years of experience, we are prepared for this long and unpredictable race. While our opponents feel the pressure, we approach the challenge with serenity. We will do everything possible to surpass our performance from last year.” And indeed, Andrea Vesco secures his fourth consecutive title, out of six in total. With the engines silenced, Vesco reflects, “In the beginning, we faced challenges, but we maintained consistent performance with minimal penalties. Only when I took part with Dad had I achieved such a good result, I am very proud to have achieved this historic result.”

 

As the quote from Luchino Visconti’s 1963 movie The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) states: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” This sentiment aptly captures the evolution of the Mille Miglia. Once a platform to showcase the speed and endurance of cutting-edge automobiles in a time when television did not exist and radio was in its infancy, the Mille Miglia has transformed into a celebration of progress—technical, social, and human. Giannino Marzotto, a two-time Mille Miglia winner, once pondered the significance of honouring the past: “When we celebrate the past, we should ask ourselves if there is a reason for this. The Mille Miglia is the image of progress, technical, social and human progress, and we do well to celebrate it because this re-evocation of the past helps the future.” Although today’s cars run on new energies and are capable of autonomous driving, the passion for driving, the thrill of speed, and the appreciation for timeless beauty remain unaltered—the very spirit that permeates the Mille Miglia.

Alfa Romeo 1900 C Super Sprint (1956)
Alfa Romeo 1900 C Super Sprint (1956)
Lotus Eleven Climax (1957)
Lotus Eleven Climax (1957)
BMW 507 (1957)
BMW 507 (1957)
Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Scaglietti (1955)
Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Scaglietti (1955)
Lancia Lambda Spider Tipo 214 (1925)
Lancia Lambda Spider Tipo 214 (1925)
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