Sophisticated Suspense and more . . .

History of the Mille Miglia

A lot of the background and history of the Mille Miglia, the car rally Michael will participate on his honeymoon with JD in Zero Emissions, was taken from the two websites listed at the end of this brief summary and adaptation of information about the race. It's not exactly a science thing, and yet, the engineering and development of the racecars that can participate in this event were very specialized and fit right in with what Michael is trying to do with an algae-based green gas in Zero Emissions.

Mille Miglia means one thousand miles and was an endurance race organized 24 times between 1927 and 1957. Participants raced with their Gran Turismo (GT) cars over the open roads of northern Italy from Brescia to Rome and back on an 8-shaped route. Due to frequent fatal crashes the race was banned in 1957, but since 1982 has been revived as a touring trip for enthusiasts.  Only 375 vehicles are accepted for participation in the Mille Miglia race, selected exclusively from the models that took part in at least one of the historical Mille Miglia races (from 1927 to 1957) and these beautiful and special cars are driven by a crew coming from all over the world today. 

The Fiat Michael plans to drive on his honeymoon trip with JD in Zero Emissions fits the bill.  So does the Maserati A6GTS his grandfather from Milan gave him that he uses to drive Julia to her introductory meeting with Dick Sweeney at the NJ biker bar.

The Mille Miglia started out as a very Italian event, the idea originally of one man, the Conte Aymo Maggi who along with his friends, Giovanni Canestrini, Count Franco Mazzotti and Renzo Castagneto met to discuss their response to the Milanese “theft” of the Italian Grand Prix. The people of Brescia considered their town and surrounding area the birthplace of Italian motorsport and were shocked when the 1922 Italian Grand Prix was moved to the new Autodromo Nazionale Monza and held under the auspices of the Automobile Club of Milan.

An interesting fact is that in 1926 there were only 170,000 automobiles in all of Italy, a figure exceeded by Britain’s annual production at that time. Italian drivers were still driving on the left side of the road while in town and on the right side while in the country. ??

On the evening of December 2nd in 1926, returning from a local hill climb event, Aymo Maggi was intent on finding a way to return the glory of Italian racing that had been lost to Brescia and transferred to Milan.  Over dinner at the famous Vecchio Café in Milan with his friends Franco Mazzotti, Flaminio Monti and Renzo Castagneto, Maggi laid out his plan. After dinner they met up with Giovanni Canestrini the famous motoring correspondent for Gazzetta dello Sport. Maggi, Mazzotti, Castegneto and Canestrini, the future so called four Musketeers of the Mille Miglia, argued into the night over the lack of sporting Italian automobiles and what could be done about it. They focused on conducting a race. But not just any race.  It had to be one that captured the imagination of the Italian people.

Instead of following in the footsteps of their Milanese rivals they devised a road race that would start in Brescia and finish in Rome, with a final return trip back to Brescia. That's approximately 1500 to 1600 kilometers, and to this Mazzotti is said to have exclaimed, "That's a thousand miles" and the Mille Miglia was born. The friends also decided that a new automobile club based in Brescia should be the sponsor with Castagneto responsible for overall planning and administration of the event.  He was to hold this position for every one of the twenty-four Mille Miglias.

The first edition of the Mille Miglia was held on March 26, 1927 with 77 cars participating.  Since then, the race became a yearly event (with a break during the Second World War) attracting lots of racing legends and the general public. However, with the cars becoming faster and more powerful, open road racing became very dangerous. After a Ferrari crashed into the public in 1957, killing 12 people, the race was banned.

But in 1982 the race was revived as a 4-day road rally for cars built between 1927 and 1957, the golden age of the Mille Miglia and Gran Turismo racing.   The 2015 Mille Miglia is slated for May 2015.  Look for Michael and JD of Zero Emissions as participants, even if only in spirit!

For more about the Mille Miglia, check out these two websites:

Mille Miglia: One Thousand Beautiful Miles

Grand Classic Tours