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The commercial monster in the Mille Miglia

Mille Miglia
ER Classics Desktop 2022

Text and photography: Tom Heuving

Every year in May, the classic car world elite gathers in Brescia for the Mille Miglia, something every classic enthusiast knows and wants to be with. Residents of more than 200 villages in Italy are lucky that they don't have to take a trip, they can experience it from their doorway. Participants and enthusiasts from all over the world do travel to Brescia for what the organization calls the most beautiful race in the world. This is recorded every year by the group of journalists, often accompanied by an impressive photo gallery. What is sometimes forgotten is that the event, motivated by commercial interests, evolves and evolves. But more about that later, first we celebrate the classic party of the year.


Restrict to gain diversity

Every year there are changes imposed by the organization, a shift in the field of participants, a different route and changes in the regularity tests, it is never the same. This year the number of crews was limited to 430 and a few highlights from passing years were deleted from the route. The latter remains Italian wet finger work, the Mille Miglia should be a ride of 1609 km, this year the route was really 1801 km spread over four days. 

Arriving at the Fiera di Brescia, there was little to notice from a smaller field of participants, the hall turned out to be packed with all sorts of highlights from the car history. Lovers of modern models could also indulge themselves thanks to a large and diverse field of participants from the Ferrari Tribute and Mercedes-Benz 1000 Miglia Challenge. In addition, the classic Zagato models were flanked by the most modern models such as the Alfa Romeo TZ3 and various Aston Martin Zagato creations. This is to add extra luster to the 100 anniversary of the design house from Milan brand.

Mille Miglia

After the technical inspection and administrative processing, the traditional sealing followed in Piazza della Vittoria. Adhering to the lead around the steering column was added and followed by a short drive to the Mille Miglia Museo just outside the city where lunch is being enjoyed. The atmosphere throughout Brescia remains special, everyone celebrates with the celebration of tradition, which also has a Dutch touch. This year there were 303 Italian teams with the Netherlands in a solid 2 place by 133 participants, Germany following 3 with 86 registrations.

Departure

Just like last year, the launch of Viale Venezia was given by the 339e division of the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale, after which 14: 30 promptly left the first participant in the direction of Lake Garda. We drove this year with Media team number 67 and decided to join in the forefront filled mainly by Bugattis and Lancias from the end of 1930. After leaving Brescia, soaked with atmosphere, the gas had to go on. Many participants are still a bit uncomfortable in the initial phase, observe traffic rules and are careful with the equipment. This usually does not take long, when motivated by motorcycle policemen, there is a growing awareness that slow driving cannot reach the finish.

After highlights such as Sirmione, Mantova, Ferrara and Ravenna, the finish in Cervia Milano Marittima was reached with everyone again in a Mille Miglia atmosphere. Some people say that this indescribable feeling is a unique virus, once infected with it you will not get rid of it.

Umbria

Day 2 was the longest in terms of distance with 571 km and crossed the heart of Umbria, an absolute highlight. The villages and landscapes that we passed are absolutely Italian, beautiful in all their simplicity. The cherry on the cake was undoubtedly the crossing of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Perugia and Assisi. Thanks to favorable conditions we were in Rome early and the atmosphere was let out. Many teams remained free of technical problems and the entire procession seemed safer, as the organization had intended, by moving with fewer accidents. But pride comes before the fall will turn out the next day.

Crash test Dummies

A recurring problem for the organization that continues to grow are the "Crashtest dummies". Enthusiasts who often print their own stickers, stick them on their cars and ride as if they belong. From the point of view of risk taking, they may be part of it, but that in combination with a lack of insight is undesirable to say the least. When we drove out of Rome we drove into a traffic jam with a group of participants, apparently caused by a Mercedes S65 AMG convertible that had been run into a car on the other side. It happens several times each year, with the idea that 'it is part of it' being thought of during the event. It was not the only crash, just outside Poggibonsi we found a Ferrari 330 GT 2 + 2 in the guardrail, the driver was still in the twisted car with rescue blanket against shock. 

It makes you think about what the organization is already doing and should do to counter this phenomenon as much as possible. 

For us, the day was the 3 of the Mille Miglia, but we enjoyed the atmosphere in Ronciglione, traversing enchanting Viterbo and began to enjoy Tuscan with the traditional trial at the sawmill in Val di Paglia.

Mille Miglia

Tuscany

The word Tuscany alone appeals to the imagination and is reminiscent of driveways with cypresses, the rolling landscape and the Renaissance. Just like in Umbria, smaller villages are hidden gems, such as San Quirico d'Orcia and Vinci. For the lunch location the organization had something special in store, the Piazza del Campo had been transformed into a parking place including artificial grass for the cars to park on. It was also a moment to get some rest for two teams in particular; Giovanni Moceri and Daniele Bonetti of Team Alfa Romeo had just taken the lead from Andrea Vesco and Andrea Guerini. The latter driving for Villa Trasqua with the express instruction to go for the win. In Siena the score was 54.879 against 54.334. After lunch another highlight was on the roll again, reaching Bologna via the Futa Pass while the sun slowly set.

Dark clouds

The last day is usually a relaxed ride, only 346 km has to be covered, tired but satisfied it is a nice final stage. However, the weather gods thought differently this year, constant rainfall caused a rain of accidents among the participants. Small mistakes were ruthlessly punished.
We were confronted by a participant who stopped us, another participant had just heard her fly out of the bend in a square bend and over a hill to come to a standstill in a vineyard. The navigator, who owns the car, fought intense emotions of sadness and relief. Given the situation, it could have turned out very differently. Fortunately there was no serious injury at first sight and we left the participant after fifteen minutes to the care of their support team. It was another example of the reverse side of the Mille Miglia.

Mille Miglia

The commercial beast

With the finish in sight, the cloud broke open and rain made way for festivities in Brescia. Yet after the finish of the 8e edition I still saw dark clouds hanging over the event.

Since the Automobile Club of Brescia has taken over the organization in 2013, the approach has become increasingly commercial. This does not have to have a bad effect on the event if a strategy is maintained to retain core elements. For example, the first Mille Miglia Green will be held in September, exclusively for electric or hybrid powered vehicles. A great step to respond to changes in the automotive sector, another initiative is the Registro 1000 Miglia. In it the organization wants to establish its own register of classic vehicles in order to attach a seal of reliability. The same as what Ferrari does with Classiche or Mercedes-Benz with All Time Stars, but with a link to FIVA. The register will undoubtedly fly off the starting blocks, because from next year every car is required to register for an as yet unknown price tag. In its own communiqué, the organization knows how to describe it no more than a commercial choice, indicative of the course that has been taken. It is also noticeable that the number of special vehicles is decreasing, at first it was just that there was a Ferrari 250 TestaRossa in the field for example. Now the number of Ferraris has dropped to an insane low of 17. The same also applies to special Jaguars, Bugattis or  Bentley's, if you don't sponsor you don't actually participate anymore.

Starting ticket for sale

Every year there is a multitude of registrations in the number of places available. As many will know, you need to be lucky if you want to appear at the start in the normal way. On the other hand, it is possible to buy yourself in as long as you want to make the cut. Sponsors of the event not only buy brand awareness, but also an x ​​number of starting tickets and media and support vehicle entrances. Something that became clear again this year and caused resentment among some participants.

The new organization clearly has a commercial agenda and comes so close to a turning point where enthusiasts turn their backs. It has become well visible over the years, but I want to see if they go over the tipping point, again next year.

4 Comments

Give a reaction
  1. @Rene: understand me well; there is nothing at all wrong with the petrolheads that ride along. From the Dutch it is a small group who misbehave, it is mainly Germans who commit it.
    All enthusiasts who come increase the atmosphere during the event. Yet over the years I have mainly seen the "Crashtest Dummies" in annoying situations. For example a seriously injured person in a TVR, it is impressive to see someone bleeding in the creases. And why?
    All kinds of rules are becoming stricter, but the organization has not yet found the solution. This should happen because it really gets out of hand.
    PS all photos are made with an iPhone or DJI Mavic 2 drone.

  2. As a spectator I have been coming to see all this beauty on the road for years. Unfortunately this year I had the feeling that it was gradually over. Ten years ago the most amazing cars drove along. This year it was a mess of much the same (Mercedes 300SL) or many second-set cars. Great, but I came for the Ferraris, Maseratis, Fiat 8V, ... Do they no longer dare to take this on the road or is there something else going on? You will know better. What is clear to me is that you see a lot of stickers from the same group of sponsors. And it is precisely because of this that so many Dutch people drive along. But whether they always leave with the nice stuff is very doubtful. In short: I think MM will be free in the coming years. I think this is such a shame ...
    PS Very nice pictures

  3. Nice story but still I want to respond to the concept of crash test dummies I myself also went as a petrolhead with the caravan, albeit with a reasonable normal car the gentlemen with the fast supercars and the Ferrari challenge are responsible for most accidents as it turned out on the raticosa just before corinaldo where these drivers have underestimated the capacity of their cars.
    It remains a great event for mobile pet heads too

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