Record crowds turn out for Mille Miglia

| 22 May 2012

Argentines Claudio Scalise and Daniel Claramunt in a 1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 trounced an army of works teams including highly experienced Italian and German navigators to top the results for the Mille Miglia on 18-20 May.

The pre-war Alfa just pipped 10-time winner Italian Giuliano Cane who was guest driving BMW Classic’s 328 Mille Miglia Roadster replica, one of 13 Bavarian beauties on the prestigious event (below). Highest placed Brit entry was Frederica and Simon Kirkpatrick in a Bugatti T37A who finished 66th.

Factory teams were a major feature of the 380-car entry with Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jaguar and Audi running impressive fleets of classics with celebrity drivers including Williams GP co-founder Patrick Head (above) in a C-type, and DTM ace Bernd Maylander making his Mille Miglia debut in the Carrera PanAmericana Mercedes-Benz W194 Gullwing. “I love Italy and this is an amazing way to see it," said the F1 safety car driver. "The run up to San Marino was really special."

Problems started early for several entrants when the organisers at scrutineering demanded roll bars and safety belts be removed for the regularity event, meaning one American Ferrari team had to angle grind out the welded-in cage just before the start. A replica Bugatti Type 51 ‘Pur Sang’ was also excluded.

Organisers MAC have also dropped the eligibility rule that entered cars have to be of a type that ran the original race. This allowed the Bentley factory to run a team of two 'Blower' team cars (below) and a Speed Six. The British team impressively drove from the UK, and then home after the epic event. Story has it that Tim Birkin and Woolf Barnato entered a Bentley in 1930, but never started. 

Other novelties were several 1950s American cruisers including a Ford Thunderbird, Lincoln Capri, and Studebaker Golden Hawk.

Fastest and most valuable car on the event was the Mercedes-Benz 300SLR (above) driven with great gusto by GP legend Jochen Mass with C&SC’s Mick Walsh playing ‘Jenks’ in the 1955 road rocket. “It was the motoring experience of a lifetime,” said a deafened but elated Walsh. “What an awesome car and driver.”

But it was the little cars that were the true heroes such as Andy Storer’s Austin Seven Ulster equipe which celebrated Charles Goodache’s historic 1931 entry in style with a successful event.

But the biggest cheer around the 1000-mile course was for American Sylvia Oberti (below) who drove her 1951 Siata 300BC spider solo all the way, and loved every second. What a lady!

More pictures:

Crashed Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS

Lancia Aurelia Spiders looking right at home in Brescia

Jochen Mass with police friends

What's the collective noun for SSKs?

Osca MT4 in Sensepolcro

Mozzis' Lancia Astura

Fiat military team