Trofeo Luciano Nicolis: It’s Better to Break down Before the Mille Miglia
Photography by Federico Bajetti
The Mille Miglia start is near and all around Northern Italy the air is filled with excitement and joy. In this time of the year, it’s sort of like Christmas Eve for petrolheads. In 2015, when classic car enthusiasm is booming across the world, we cannot just wait a week more: we want to see old cars racing on public roads now!
The first edition of Trofeo Luciano Nicolis, a historic regularity race held the weekend before the Mille Miglia, is an event made pay homage to Luciano Nicolis, the founder of the Nicolis Museum (one of the most important car collections of Italy). It is a two-day event made to warm up racers, prepare for the hard challenges of the days ahead, and celebrate the culture of Verona—from motoring to art and culture.
It is the perfect recipe for a starter in a petrolhead dinner: two days of fine motoring in the romantic setting of Verona, with a pleasant side of good food, wine, and music.
The first part of the event is held on a Friday evening, where the participants gather in the city centre, right under the ancient walls of the Roman Arena.
On the second day, starting from the town center, about 30 cars, some of which will be racing in the Mille Miglia, will take on a scenic route for the regularity race. Needless to say, this is the epitome for tasteful driving in Italy: breathtaking scenery, no traffic, and warm weather allow for speeding through the grapevines.
Thankfully, no polizia in sight! For me and Federico it is also the perfect occasion to practice our strategy to follow the race next week. Despite driving a large Land Rover Discovery, we were able to keep up with the pace of the drivers and make quick stops to take pictures of the cars.
As we’re all waiting for the start of the Mille Miglia, this regularity race can just be seen as its scaled down version. We’re all warming up for the big event next week: no one can wait a day further, and there’s excitement in the air.
Also, events like this one are a good occasion to test the cars before the stresses they will undertake in a few days’ time. While following the cars, we witnessed a few breakdowns: a Fiat 514 with a flooded carburetor was the first casualty of the day, and the old 1927 O.M. 665 Superba had a few problems with its alternator. Not all evils are bad: fixing these issues beforehand can help win a race later in the year.
At the end of the day, I felt even more of the excitement that happens before the start of a big event—and today was just a pleasurable glimpse.