I Chased The Mille Miglia From The Front Seat Of A Lancia Aurelia
Photography by Jayson Fong
“Your police escort has now arrived to take you to Piazza Vittoria…” said the voice over the PA in Brescia’s Expo centre, where hundreds of the world’s best classic cars were parked in neat rows. These words are usually reserved for political figures, high ranking officials, celebrities and the Pope—to name a few. But now, you can add priceless classic cars to the list because this is the Mille Miglia, the largest moving automotive museum in the world and one of my favourite events of the year.
Like 2015, I was lucky enough to experience the MM from a range of perspectives in and out of the car with my friends from Classic Car Charter. And in all honesty, I expected a reasonably tamer experience than my first MM. How wrong I was…
Instead of being in the support car for the entire time as I had prepared for, I spent 500 cramped miles on the front seat of a completely original and genuine Lancia Aurelia…with two others. What made it even more special was that this car took part in the 1951 race for what is now a grand tour of Italy and a tribute to the incredible road race once held from 1927–1957.
It’s almost an expectation that it will be sunny in Italy to compliment the glitter of these cars, however, this year’s 1,000 mile journey did not start with the most promising weather. The first two days were marred by rain and cold weather as it followed the tour from Brescia towards Rome. Although it was a tough few days for the drivers of open top sports cars being tested in endurance more than usual, don’t think that any enthusiasm and spirit was lost in the process.
It always amazes me to see the passion that the Italian people have for this convoy of classics. Even in rain, they continued to appear in large numbers with ages across all generations, whilst lining the streets of every town with flags at the ready.
One of the most memorable moments was entering Rome late in the evening. Exhausts crackling and echoing through the streets—we made our way to the impressive Piazza Venezia in the centre of the city. Its imposing size was the perfect way to reflect how the Mille Miglia feels. With traffic stopped in all directions for us, it was quite clear that the event is still a huge occasion.
Heading back north in the sun was when things really came alive, and grand touring was felt at its very best. Mountain passes, open road, open throttle, crowded town centres providing spectacular receptions and a genuine feeling of camaraderie between drivers and spectators; if you don’t like cars, seeing the joy that the Mille Miglia brings to an entire country will make you like them.
There was one moment that was an incredibly unique and special for me this year: trying to hold myself up as we took the steep Monza banking at speed in the Lancia; the moment brought two Italian legacies and a dream I never expected to fulfill together in spectacular fashion on the final day, before arriving once again in Brescia.
I don’t think I’ve ever worn a larger smile.
So why then is the Mille Miglia one of my favourite motoring events of the year, when it is ultimately a glorious 1,000-mile parade? Because I’d much rather see these machines on the road than in a museum, and there is no place in the world to see so many at one time.
Although I have only been a part of the journey on two occasions, both times have proven to be completely different, and it is this guarantee that no year is ever the same for those in the cars and those on the roadside that will continue to draw me back.
A special thanks to Classic Car Charter and its team for having me at the Mille Miglia this year.