Robbert Moree attends the Mille Miglia and enjoys the beautiful classics that cross the stunning landscape. Still there is one thing that worries him.
This edition of the 1000 Miglia it strikes me for the very first time, there just aren’t as many spectators watching and cheering the ongoing line of cars participating this mobile museum event. At the start in Brescia it doesn’t show all that obvious, after all this is the commercial walhalla of the event as well as the birthplace of this strong brand name. Looking back I do think there were far less people crowding the streets around the Piazza della Vittoria, the historical starting area of the 1000 Miglia. In San Marino, my second stop, I spot considerably fewer people around than the last time I visited during the 1000 Miglia in 2015. At first I believe I’m imagining things, but during the third stop I make it all becomes painfully clear. Radicofani is a little mountain village where the cars ascend through a narrow street towards the church, which they drive around to leave the settlement in the other direction. A charming little place that is always crowded to the limit. Not this time though. The weather is fine, that cannot be the reason, there just isn’t the usual crowd trying to squeeze on to the church stairs. No difficult passage for the cars through the narrow street, no such thing, it is simply quiet here.
I think I found where this change comes from, actually it is fairly simple. In 1957 the last 1000 Miglia is raced. By now that is 61 years ago. Youngsters who were 10 at the time are 71 today. People in their twenties that travelled the country towards the roads where the cars passed are well in their eighties now. Where everyone in Italy wanted to go see this momentum of a race in the days, it being a spectacle that couldn’t be topped, the original crowds of the 1000 Miglia are slowly becoming to old to reach the spots where they can cheer the vehicles. They are slowly becoming extinct. That doesn’t mean there are no more spectators for the event, there are still many lining the route of the rally. Hundreds of thousands all together, by no means numbers the organization should start worrying about. The brand 1000 Miglia holds on strong, which means sponsors still like to link their name to the 1000 Miglia.
In a way it is normal that an organization like this attracts as many funds as possible. After all it all needs to remain profitable. Still it is a shame that the less commercial, maybe slightly more improvised version that we knew fifteen years ago has made way for this modern version. It was what gave this spectacle is certain charm and made it look more like the original 50’s version. Like Queen Elisabeth II admits reluctantly in the film ‘The Queen’, ‘We must modernise’, so it is. And despite all the modifications to meet modern times, one aspect remains exactly as it was, the base for this rally are still the cars that participated in the days that the 1000 Miglia was ‘La Corsa Più Bella Del Mondo’ and were raced to the very limit. That is what we come here to see and live and of course the amazing teams who drive their 1000 miles with a minimum of comfort, short nights and often quite some technical challenges, which are mostly repaired overnight by the technical assistance. Long live these magnificent examples of rolling heritage!