Race Through Time & Against the Clock on the Mille Miglia
Among the most romantic events in all of historic motorsports is the old Mille Miglia. Comprised of a gnarled and twisting route through central and northern Italy’s verdant hills, arid plains, mountain switchbacks, seaside cliffs, and ancient, twisty cobblestone streets squeezed tight between the crumbling old homes and shops of myriad sleepy, sun-bleached villages, the Mille is chock full of breathtaking sites and fascinating history.
Originally run 24 times between 1927 and 1957, with a long break forced by the ugliness of continental war, the race was conceived by two young Brescian contes as a response to their hometown losing the Italian GP to Monza. Running from Brescia to Rome and back, across 1,500 km (or 1,000 Roman miles), it’s this massive distance for which the event is named, "Mille Miglia" meaning literally "one thousand miles". Later races would follow various routes of differing lengths, but with the same Roman and Brescian milestones.
The inaugural Mille Miglia left Brescia on March 26th, 1927, with 77 starters, all of whom were Italian. Initially limited to unmodified production vehicles, of which 51 ultimately finished, it was won by Giuseppe Morandi, who took just a hair over 21 hours from start to finish averaging a blistering (for the day) 48 MPH in a two-liter OM. (Incidentally, OM was Brescia-based and swept the first MM’s top three places, a cause for much celebration in the region.)