Brescia, cradle of Italian Motorsports, a city with petrol in its veins. Already at the end of the 19th century car races were organised on the roads of Brescia. A habit that would soon turn tradition.
Show piece in Brescia’s racing pedigree is the famous 1000 mile race, the ‘Mille’ Miglia. Between 1927 and 1957 the multiple day race is being held 24 times. Laureates invariably being moguls of international motorsports. Legendary drivers in, when possible, even more legendary automobiles. 1957 is a black page in the book of the 1000 Miglia. Two fatal accidents call in the end of this once renowned street race. Only in 1977 the event is revived as the 1000 Miglia Storica, a regularity rally for period cars.
Wednesday May 18, the streets of Brescia fill up with cars from 1927 up till 1957. Contenders in this years 1000 Miglia 2016 will leave Brescia on the Viale Venezia on Thursday May 19 from 14H30. Their 440 beautiful vehicles fit for a 1600 kilometer trip around the most scenic roads of Italy. The route through Rimini, Rome and Parma close to that of the original 1000 Miglia. We take our first pictures on Wednesday in Brescia at the ‘Punzonatura’, the ceremony that ‘seals’ the competing cars and puts a sticker on the windscreen that says ‘verificato’, verified. We are not at the starting line on Thursday, but footage we’ve seen show it was a very wet venue this year. The Brescia-Rimini stage is run in torrential rains.
We rejoin the participants on the third stage from Roma to Parma on Saturday May 21 at the lunch stop in Poggibonsi. From participant number 1 (Bentley 3 litre of Alan and Hans Hulsbergen) up to 358 (Mercedes Benz 190SL of Giovanni Pradelli) we photograph the most alluring cars. Of course we wish all the best to the 75 Dutch teams! On the pictures we see, among others, Evert and Quirinal Louwman on Mercedes Benz 710 SSK from 1929 (63), Loes and Annemarie van de Velde on Lagonda M45 Rapide from 1935 (106), Adolf and Lars Jans on Veritas RS from 1949 (177), Koen Bender and Michel Perridon on Talbot-Lago T26GS from 1947 (153) and the very special Autobleu Type Mille Miglia 750 from 1950 driven by Mark Thieme and Toine van Ooijen (301).
The final victory went to car number 74 by Andrea Vesco and Andrea Guerini on Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Zagato from 1931. First Dutch team, John and Rutger Houtkamp on 1934 works Lagonda M45 Rapide (97) in a creditable 18th place. Pictures speak for themselves; enjoy the ambiance, the cars and their teams as it is meant in the 1000 Miglia! Might you ever have the chance to witness this event in real life, live up to it to the max.
Tekst en foto’s: Jan van Hylckama Vlieg
Redactie: Marc GF Zaan