90 year Mille Miglia. Part One. The pre-war years

Mille Miglia
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The Mille Miglia Storico will be held from 18 to 21 in May. It is a recreational tribute to the historic Brescia-Rome-Brescia race. This year we will be discussing the Italian 1000 mile race in a diptych. The reason for this is special, because this year the Mille Miglia is celebrating its 90e birthday. Today we describe the pre-war history of this famous and infamous race.

In fact, it all started in March 1899. At that time the concept of {motorsport} was still in its infancy and Northern Italy was visited for the first time in a major car race (Verona-Mantova-Brescia-Verona). Soon Brescia - which had already been introduced to a number of races from 1895 - fell under the definitive spell of motor sport. This branch of sport took root and developed steadily.

Motor sport takes root in Brescia

The first major racing event from Brescia took place in 1904 and in 1905 the Coppa Florio took place. Brescia also hosted the first Italian Grand Prix in 1921. In an era where car racing continued to gain in popularity, it was an honor to organize such an event. The Grand Prix of Italy only had Brescia as home base once. After this the circus moved to Monza. The counts Aymo Maggi and Franco Mazzotti were, however, completely captivated by the combination {autosport} and {Brescia}. This resulted in the ambition to organize a major motorsport event in Brescia.

Custom to the first edition

In 1925 the two graves swore to make their hometown Brescia a permanent concept in motorsport. Together with Renzo Castagneto, the Brescian region secretary of the Automobil Club d'Italia and Giovanni Canestrini, a motorsport journalist from La Gazzetta dello Sport, they decided to organize a race of around 1000 miles through Italy. To indicate the way, Castagneto devised the Freccia Rosso, the characteristic red arrow with white letters.

First Mille Miglia on 26 March 1927

The first edition of the Coppa delle Mille Miglia (the official pre-war name) was organized on 26 in March 1927. A total of 77 cars arrived at the start. The first three places of the debut edition went to OM, the first victory being written by the duo Minoia / Morandi. They won the OM 665 Sport {Superba}. The car manufacturer, {Officine Meccaniche}, had its home base in …… .rescia.

Milan takes over control

The first place on the honorary scaffold was taken over from 1928 by "Milan". It was the starting signal for an impressive hegemony of Alfa Romeo in the Mille Miglia. And the rule would last until the edition of 1938. The places two and three were also more than regularly occupied by Alfa Romeo. Alfa Romeo did not finish first in 1931. It was Mercedes-Benz that the pre-war Mille Miglia hegemony of Alfa Romeo one-off (Carraciola and Sebastian won with a Mercedes-Benz SSK). Meanwhile, the fleet within the Mille Miglia developed. Furthermore, over the years various classes were created in which the participating cars were housed.

The provisional end

A major accident in 1938 - in the center of Bologna - led to the old Mille Miglia being banned. That is why the Italian government pulled a line through racing in urban areas. Yet the Mille Miglia, in another variant, was kept alive. 1940 included an alternative, a shortened route that was named Gran Premio Brescia della Migle Miglia. But the 1000 mile race would return in full glory after the Second World War. The race would also be a stage for the manufacturer, who from the 1950s would play a leading role in motor sport: Ferrari.

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