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Historic

Historic Sports Car Club’s annual Wolds Trophy

The challenging Cadwell Park circuit in Lincolnshire delivered some great racing as Formula 3 topped the bill at the Historic Sports Car Club’s annual Wolds Trophy (Saturday/Sunday 27/28 June).

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Notable winners in the pair of Historic F3 races were James King, who won on his return to the track 38 years after winning a round of the British Formula 3 Championship, and James Denty who won in the ex-Mo Nunn Lotus 41 on the car’s racing return after more than 20 years in storage.

The opening race for the HSCC Historic Formula 3 Championship featured a great lead battle between Denty and Dean Forward (Tecno) which only ended when Forward was slowed by a rear puncture and forced to retire to the pits. In their wake, Simon Armer (March 703) just got the better of King (Chevron B17) as the American racer made his first visit to Cadwell Park since 1977. From a three-car lead battle in the second race, Forward and Denty both had spins and King came through to win from Armer. “It’s a lovely track, but 1977 was a long time ago,” said King.

“Sunshine, Cadwell Park and a fantastic car: I was allowed 20 minutes to enjoy myself,” said a jubilant Simon Hadfield after victory in the first Classic Formula 3 Championship race. While Hadfield took the ex-Rupert Keegan March 743 to two clear victories, Paul Dibden (Argo JM6) and Ian Pearson (Van Diemen RF83) battled for second. Pearson topped the URS Classic FF2000 contingent, which joined the Classic F3 cars for the weekend.

Benn Simms was another driver to make it a weekend double in the Historic Formula Ford 2000 Championship in his Reynard SF77. However, in both races he was pushed hard by Tom Smith (Royale RP27) as Andrew Park (Reynard SF79) and Callum Grant (Delta T78) ran close behind and took a final podium position apiece.

Simms made it an even better weekend at the end of Sunday’s programme when he took his rare Elfin 600 to victory in the second Classic Racing Car Championship race. Ian Jones (Lotus 59) won the first race by just half a second but Simms went clear in the second race.

Weekend double winners also included Tim Davies (Lotus Cortina) in Historic Touring Cars, Richard Mitchell (Merlyn Mk20) in Historic Formula Ford 1600, Roger Waite (Lotus Elan) in Historic Road Sports, Peter Shaw (TVR Tuscan) in 70s Road Sports and Mark Charteris (Mallock Mk21) in Classic Clubmans. John Turner (Cooper Mk9) won the 500cc Formula 3 race on Saturday as the early years of Cadwell Park were remembered.

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Historic

This weekend – The London to Brighton Veteran Car run includes steam engines!

It’s time to put the spanners down and for the fettling to stop: the world’s longest running motoring event is about to begin. On Sunday (2 November) 440 veteran cars will line up in Hyde Park ready to tackle the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

As tradition dictates, the first car will set off on the 60-mile trip to the coast as dawn breaks… regardless of what the weather is doing. Very few of the veterans offer any protection against the elements, showing that the pioneer motorists were a hardy bunch.

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As well as petrol-powered cars there will be veterans powered by steam and, proving there’s nothing new under the sun, even some battery-powered electric vehicles. Open to cars built in 1904 or earlier, all the entries are at least 110 years old.

Famous names taking part include former Grand Prix team owner Ross Brawn, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, MP Robert Goodwill, Olympic gold medallists Sir Ben Ainslie and Sir Steve Redgrave, Jonathan Montagu from Beaulieu and TV baker Paul Hollywood.

The traditional finish is on Brighton’s Madeira Drive on the seafront, with the first cars expected at just after 10am with the event officially closing at 4.30pm.

The Run is the culmination of three days of motoring activity in London: Friday 31 October marks the annual Bonhams Veteran Car auction while many of the London to Brighton stars take part in the annual Regent Street Motor Show on Saturday (1 November).

The Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run celebrates the original Emancipation Run, held on 14 November 1896, and which marked the Locomotives on the Highway Act. This landmark Act raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14mph and abolished the need for a man walking ahead of the cars waving a red flag.

More details

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Historic

Ross Brawn enters his 1904 Wilson Pilcher in the London-Brighton Veteran Car Run

…the braking takes anticipation, shall we say.

Motor racing star Ross Brawn is taking part in his first Bonhams London to Brighton Run Veteran Car Run. He will be driving his own veteran car, the only known surviving British-built Wilson Pilcher.

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Manufactured in 1904, it was created by engineer Walter Gordon Wilson who went on to invent the army tank; for years the Wilson Pitcher car was displayed at the British Tank Museum.

“It was a very advanced car for its day,” said Brawn. “It has a 2.7-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine which is suspended in a cradle in the chassis. It also has a sophisticated semi-automatic gearbox which, I believe, was a forerunner of the famous Wilson Pre-Selector ‘box. But compared to a modern car the suspension is crude and the braking takes anticipation, shall we say.”

The Wilson Pilcher joins a number of other cars in Brawn’s private collection and after the Run will rub shoulders with a few Jaguars, including a very early E-type, and some significant Ferraris including the 250 SWB used by Stirling Moss to win the 1962 Tourist Trophy.

The Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run celebrates the original Emancipation Run, held on 14 November 1896, and which marked the Locomotives on the Highway Act. This landmark Act raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14mph and abolished the need for a man walking ahead of the cars waving a red flag.

The Run is the highlight of a long weekend of motoring nostalgia in the capital, much it of it free to view. Other events include the popular free Regent Street Motor Show (Saturday, 1 November) and the annual Bonhams Veteran Car auction (Friday 31 October).

For more details of the Veteran Car Run, the entries and the route visit www.veterancarrun.com.

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Goodwood Historic

Art & history combine for the launch of Goodwood Festival of Speed

Every year the Goodwood Festival of Speed creates an impressive centrepiece for its Central Feature. 2014 is no exception and sees  Gerry Judah create an enormous sculpture to celebrate of 120 years of motorsport participation by Mercedes-Benz.

Goodwood Festival of Speed Central Feature launch

The sculpture soars 26 metres over Goodwood House, weighing 160 tonnes and measuring 90 metres in length. Two cars spanning 80 years form an integral part of the sculpture – a replica of the 1934 Mercedes-Benz W 25 Silver Arrow of the kind raced by Manfred von Brauchitsch to victory at the Nurburgring Nordschleife and a MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 W04, the same chassis raced by Lewis Hamilton in 15 Grand Prix in 2013.

The unveiling was accompanied by a spectacular evening fireworks show and a fleet of Mercedes-Benz road and race cars making a dramatic run up the Goodwood Hill.

Details and to buy tickets

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Historic

The fun of the RAC London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

See all the images from the RAC London to Brighton Veteran Car Run here.

Hyde Park Corner is not the place I would chose to ride a penny-farthing. It’s a brave fellow who mixes his 1880 mode of transport with four lanes of modern traffic exuberantly making its way in and out of central London. Maybe the dapper chap I spotted cycles that way every day, but I presumed his appearance had something to do with the RAC London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. This also crossed Hyde Park Corner but as each group of veteran cars approached the modern stuff was held back by stewards and the Napiers, Oldsmobiles, De Dion Boutons, etc were allowed to drive straight across the roundabout.

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The fun started at dawn. Before then a red flag was ripped in two in front of the four hundred cars lined up in Hyde Park. This re-enacted an event at the start of the first run in 1896, known as the Emancipation Run which celebrated the new law no longer forcing new-fanged automobiles to have an escort waving a red flag walking twenty yards ahead of them.

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6.58am is an early time to be starting anything, but there was still a crowd of enthusiasts waving the cars off. VIP cars start the run, which this year included a restored Darracq 1903 driven by Edd China and Mike Brewer, stars of a televisual programme. The rest of the vehicles start in age order, and particularly interesting was car 002. This was a Salvesen from 1896, which goes everywhere doing a creditable imitation of Stephenson’s Rocket. Not because there is something wrong with it, but because it is a steam-car. Now that is the way to travel.

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Seen individually all of these cars would be impressive. However seeing so many early automotive examples is like visiting an art gallery so rich in treasures that we race past the works by Botticelli to see those by Michelangelo. The highlights become the unusual or seemingly mad. The steam powered car towing a dustbin of coal. The motor-trike with a seat on the front, just where a bumper ought to be. Not a position I would like to take up on a UK road, the passenger was a brave girl.

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Some cars can take until evening to make the journey to Brighton, and of course many break down, but  the first cars started to appear at the checkpoint in Preston Park around 10.15am. The first back was a 1902 Darracq driven by Allan White. Of course it’s illegal to race on the Queen’s highway, so there are no prizes for first place – although considering it’s not a race the drivers seemed surprisingly keen to know what position they had finished.

The ceremonial finish line is on the Brighton seafront on Madeira Drive. Drivers that make it that far get a pennant, a ceremonial medal and the applause of a large crowd.

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The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is the world’s longest running motoring event and only cars from before 1905 may enter. With all the costumes, cars and trikes it is  a great British spectacle, a Mille Miglia for even older cars that only takes a day and is ideal for busy modern schedules. I now have a new item on my bucket list. If anyone can lend me a pre-1905 car for next year’s run then please get in touch…

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Classic Extras Historic

The Mille Miglia Museum, Brescia

The original Mille Miglia car race ran from 1927 to 1957. The cars that took part in these races are celebrated in the Mille Miglia museum in Brescia, along with Italian culture and costume from the period. A ticket will set you back €7 and gives you access to a well laid out display that snakes through the old monastery of Sant’Eufemia della Fonte. That’s right, the museum is housed in a restored monastic complex, the oldest parts of which were built in 1008.

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Although the Mille Miglia is one of the oldest car races in the world, the museum has only existed since 2004. It aims to not only show the history of the race but to convey something of the changes in Italian culture and customs over the years.

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The museum starts by introducing the four men who first had the idea of ‘creating something sensational which will wake the automobile world from its slumbers.’ They were Giovanni Canestrini, Franco Mazzotti, Aymo Maggi and Renzo Castegneto. They were quick workers – they first discussed the idea in December 1926 and on 27th March 1927 the first Coppa della Mille Miglia got underway!

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Cars from local Brescian manufacturers Officine Mecchaniche (OM) came first, second and third in the first race. Ferdinando Minoia and Giuseppe Morandi won in their OM 665 Superba, averaging 48 mph for over 21 hours and finishing 15 minutes ahead of their nearest rivals. The greatest problems were not mechanical, but – like modern F1 – tyre degradation. The museum has examples of the tyres and of the quality of the roads in each decade of the race – perfect asphalt they were not.

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The first race followed a figure of eight route that circled northern Italy, crossing in Bologna. There were 18 controls in different towns along the way where teams had to get a stamp to prove they had not cut any of the course. Of the 77 starters, a remarkable 70% finished the race. The original plan had not been for the race to be repeated every year. But Mussolini is reported to have heard about the Mille Miglia and said, ‘It is to be repeated.’ So it was.

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The pathway through the museum follows the history of the race chronologically. Cars that took part in each edition of the Mille Miglia are displayed on either side of the long wings of the Monastery of Saint Eufemia. Large windows allow the cars to sparkle in the sunlight. As you progress through the museum the cars get more modern, and displays show artefacts from the period, including dresses, petrol pumps and motorbikes. There is also a section showing clips from Amacord, the Fellini film that includes shots of the Mille Milgia.

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There are stunning cars everywhere you look, and many of them sport modern Mille Milgia stickers, showing that they have been raced in recent years. The display does change as the cars are not just museum pieces. All are restored to great condition and many are used in classic car events such as the Mille Miglia.

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When I visited the museum it also had a Formula One simulator and a well-stocked book shop. I bought a DVD and the girl behind the till handed me my receipt with a breezy Grazie Mille. With all the Mille Miglia signs around I half expected her to say Grazie Mille Miglia, but she restrained herself. Outside I saw this sign and thought hang on, I don’t remember seeing that.

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Museum, yes. Book shop, yes. Office, yes. Beatles Museum? That was unexpected, like going to St Paul’s Cathedral and seeing a sign for the swimming pool. I went back in to investigate.

‘Didn’t you see it?’ said the girl.

I shook my head. I would have remembered a Beatles museum.

‘It’s at the end of the museum,’ she paused and then added, ‘Oh, now it’s shut.’

I don’t know whether it’s shut for good or if it was just shut that day. If anyone has seen the Mille Miglia Beatles Museum can you tell me what it is like? As for the main Mille Miglia museum, if you’re in Brescia and can see the beauty in vintage cars, get down to Viale della Bornata, 123 – S Eufemia. You won’t be disappointed.

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Classic Extras Historic Other

Ferrari tribute to the Mille Miglia

The Ferrari Tribute to Mille Miglia is a re-enactment for Prancing Horse owners of the world’s most famous endurance road race. The drivers aboard post-1957 Ferraris paraded their cars down Brescia’s Viale Venezia to open the 2013 edition of the historic event. The competitors then continued along some of Italy’s most beautiful roads, following the traditional route to Rome and back to cross the finish-line at Brescia on the night of Saturday, May 18th.

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The Ferraris taking part came from more than twenty different nations and were divided into two separate categories: Classic for cars built between 1958 and 1984, and those built between 1984 and the present. The cars represent a marvellous compendium of Ferrari’s extraordinary production from every era and were selected by a special committee chaired by Ferrari’s Vice Chairman, Piero Ferrari.

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The Ferrari Tribute to 1000 Miglia followed exactly the same 1500km route as the main race, starting from Brescia, with regularity trial stages in Desenzano del Garda, the Autodromo di Imola, Rome, Florence and the Fiorano Circuit before finishing back at Brescia once more.

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The Ferrari Tribute to 1000 Miglia cars left a few minutes ahead of their historic counterparts. They drove through Assisi, Sienna and Florence to name but a few of the towns that provided stunning backdrops to this year’s Ferrari Tribute. The thousands of enthusiasts that thronged the route were provided with an absolutely unmissable spectacle.

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Classic Historic

The Mille Miglia part 3 Rome back to Brescia

For the final day of the Mille Miglia the cars raced from the Villa Borghese in Rome back to Viale Venezia in Brescia. Leaving at 6.15am meant a long day’s drive, highlights of which were driving through the centres of Sienna and Florence. At last the rain stopped and the sun came out. Golfer Colin Montgomerie, co-driver aboard a 1937 BMW 328 said that ‘racing the Mille Miglia is as thrilling as a hole-in-one’. About the BMW he commented, ‘It is a noble car, but it is tiring. It is tiny and therefore not easy to handle when traveling with two. The major obstacle is the rain. The car is open, so it is difficult to read the road-book and be the navigator when it rains, or at night or due to the sun.’

The cars left from the Villa Borghese, crossing the centre of Rome, before heading out towards Cassia. In Campagnano di Roma, where the Vallelunga Autodrome is located, the first Regularity Trial of the day took place. Then, leaving Lazio behind them, participants made their entrance into Tuscany with the breathtaking scenery of the Sienese hills and the tiny picturesque villages of the region giving an unbelievable backdrop to the vintage cars.

In a small town in the Val D’Orcia, known as Radicofani, the crews were subjected to a Time Control and underwent a further Regularity Trial. Time Controls give a time in which the competitors need to reach pre-established points: they serve in uniting groups of cars, and are placed on long-distance stretches of several hours. Vehicles receive penalty points based on the minutes of error over or under the established time.The route was accompanied by the enthusiasm of all the onlookers awaiting along the roadside to greet the magnificent cars. A Regularity Trial in Pieve a Salti followed, then a Time Control in Buonconvento and participants entered breathtaking Siena, for a Passage Control. This prevents competitors from cutting the route short as they are obliged to get stamps at the passage controls. In the Piazza del Campo in Siena, the cars actually had to struggle in order to get through the masses of people who had turned out to watch.

There was a short lunch break at San Casciano Val di Pesa and then cars followed on towards Florence for a further Passage Control, the last one prior to the two Apennine Mountain passes. Even the two mountain passes Fuga and Raticosa, so beautiful yet tough, have become a part of the Mille Miglia legend.

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Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport of Steven Adler and Jakob Greisen in Florence

In the only real deviation from the traditional Mille Miglia race route the cars visited the towns that suffered from the earthquake last year. The race not only brings press attention to the municipalities affected. The Mille Miglia has set up a charity called Drying Little Tears,  that helps children affected by the earthquake. A centre for traumatized children affected by disasters will be built using the proceeds from the project. Every single penny will be used towards the project known as “The Firefly” which is a therapy center for children between 3 and 18 with different types of disabilities.

With only 7 regularity stages to go the Argentinian Juan Tonconogy was still in the lead, behind the wheel of his 1927 Bugatti T 40. He was followed by Giordano Mozzi in a 1933 Alfa Romeo Gran Sport. In third place was Giordano Moceri in his 1933 Aston Martin Le Mans.

In Brescia the crowds were out to see the cars return home. First the Ferrari Tribute cars drove over the finishing ramp on Viale Venezia, led by the Dutch team of Cees and Hans Visser.

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The Ferrari 512 B/B of C & H Visser

Then the vintage Mille Miglia cars started arriving. The overall winners, who had led consistently through out the race were Argentinians Juan Tonconogy and Guillermo Berisso in their 1927 Bugatti T 40. They celebrated winning the 2013 Mille Miglia with a spray of Champagne that left the air smelling sweet. For a moment the rain tasted of Champagne, although not enough to distinguish the exact blend of Pinot noir, Chardonnay and PInot Meunier in the wine.

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In a cloud of Champagne spray – winners Juan Tonconogy and Guillermo Berisso

So the Mille Miglia was over for another year. It is a tremendous meeting of beautiful vintage cars and beautiful scenery. All that was left to do was give the winners their prizes, which took place at a ceremony the next day in the impressive neo-baroque Teatro Grande.

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Winners Juan Tonconogy and Guillermo Berisso

The Mille Miglia is a unique event that celebrates the beauty of both vintage cars and the Italian landscape. Enzo Ferrari described it as the most beautiful race in the world and that is a description that still stands today.

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Classic Historic

The Mille Miglia part 2 – Ferrara to Rome

The Mille Miglia part 2 – Ferrara to Rome

The first cars in the 2013 Mille Miglia had only reached Ferrara around 00.30 on Thursday evening, having left Brescia and passed through some of the breathtaking towns around Lake Garda. The drivers of the open cars had got a soaking, but they still paraded through Verona’s Arena and many fans braved the inclement weather to get a glimpse of the vintage cars as they completed the first stage of the race.

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Cooper Jaguar of Derek Hood and Steve Riedling

However it was an earlier start for the drivers than the day before as the race to Rome began at 7.45am on Friday morning. Today’s route went through Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio where thousands of spectators would see the passage of this unique traveling museum. The morning saw the cars take the breathtaking drive around the roads of Mount Titano and the Republic of San Marino

German actress Hannah Herzsprung, the co-driver of a Jaguar C-Type said this was the best moment of the race so far. ‘It was amazing to go through those streets and the countryside between Romagna and Tuscany, on the road towards Sansepolcro. Despite the rain…I’m glad to be here, above all for the warmth of the people.’ However previous winner Giuliano Cane said that ‘Without a doubt, the passage through San Marino has been the most challenging one so far – especially because we had to stick to a very steep and tortuous part of the route.’ Car #1, the OM 665 SS from 1930 actually had to stop and let the engine cool down as the road was so steep!

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Ciisitalia 202 SC driven by Fabrizio Rossi and Fabio Teti

The Mille Miglia is about taking part and coaxing the machinery to the end of the course. However it is also a regularity race, with points scored everyday and Argentinian driver, Juan Tonconogy in his 1927 Bugatti T40, was in the lead after the first regularity trials. He maintained his lead ahead of Giordano Mozzi in a 1933 Alfa Romeo Grand Sport and Giovanni Moceri in his 1933 Aston Martin Le Mans.

Friday was a  hectic day for the crews who faced four regularity trials: San Marino, Pieve Santo Stefano in the Province of Arezzo, Province Umbertide in the Province of Perugia and Arrone, in the Province of Terni. Regularity trials require cars to race along a segment of a route – normally either closed or distant from traffic – maintaining a target pace. For example, a Regularity Stage of 3km could have a given time of three minutes and thirty seconds. For every hundredth of a second error, above or below the precise “target” time, the competitor receives a penalty.

This phase of the race led the cars through some of the most fascinating and beautiful Italian landscapes. One town that stood out was Gambettola, for its extraordinary welcome.

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The Mille Miglia has visited Gambettola for almost twenty years and the reception is fantastic. Each crew is received with the laughter, waving and an abundance of treats. These include a basket of fresh strawberries that the farmers’ cooperatives provide for every crewmember.

After Emilia, the Mille Miglia route wound through the splendid hills of Tuscany and scenic Umbria. It then continued towards the picturesque landscapes of Sansepolcro, Assisi and Spoleto before arriving in Rome along the Via Flaminia Nuova at around 8.30pm. At the Castel Sant’Angelo the cars were presented to a great throng of spectators. The rarest cars were displayed on the podium today, including the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR driven by David Coulthard. This car, which took part in the 1955 edition was driven by to Juan Manuel Fangio, winner of five Formula One titles. It is perhaps the most beautiful vehicle ever produced by Mercedes- Benz. Ferrari’s 375 MM Berlinetta Pininfarina followed, which was built in 1954 and commissioned by film director Roberto Rossellini as a gift to his wife, actress Ingrid Bergman.

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Aston Martin Le Mans, 1933 driven by Jan Ten Cate and Rob Pors

After reaching Rome the Mille Miglia cars toured the centre of the Eternal City, passing through some of the most beautiful corners of the Italian capital, including the Circus Maximus, the Colosseum, Piazza Venezia and Via Veneto. Then the drivers got a few hours sleep before departing for the final day’s drive back to Brescia at a rather early 6.15am.

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Classic Historic

The start of the Mille Miglia – the most beautiful race in the world

Enzo Ferrari called the Mille Miglia the most beautiful race in the world. Unless there are a bevy of Botticelli’s Venuses training for next year’s London Marathon he is probably right. 400 vintage cars built in the years from 1927 to 1957 take part in the race from Brescia to Rome and back. These range from a 1925 Bugatti T35A to a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL300. Don’t ask the value of these unique machines, just enjoy seeing museum-quality cars being driven on the open roads of Italy. 11 bugatti flaneur 1925 Bugatti T35A on the starting ramp in Viale Venezia The streets of Brescia are not just lined with the cars taking part in the official race. For one weekend at the end of May the northern Italian town is filled with exotic machinery, including over 70 Ferraris that drive in front of the race in an official Ferrari tribute. IMG 0877 flaneur The Ferrari Enzo driven by Giovanni Recordati and Massimo Soffritti   There are not many places where a 70-strong gang of Ferraris can be upstaged, but if there is one it is Brescia during the Mille Miglia. On Thursday the modern Ferraris were all parked on Via Goffredo Mamelli, looking shiny and potent amongst the small boutiques and cafes. But the roads around Piazza Loggia were filled with the participants in the actual Mille Miglia. Parking space after parking space was filled with exquisite vintage machinery. An Austin Healey here, a Bugatti there, a Frazer Nash over the road. The rest of the centro was filled with amazing cars whose drivers had come to watch, or media cars that were going to follow the race. These were often Ferraris, the owners happy to slap a MEDIA sticker on the doors and the bonnet. Even the vintage cars were covered with race number stickers. I hope they all come off OK, or there will be a lot of exotic cars needing resprays next week. The current Mille Miglia is a recreation of the original pedal-to-the-metal race that took place between 1927 and 1957. Only cars that date from that period are allowed to enter. Each has a driver and a co-driver given the task of driving from Brescia to Rome and back via cities such as Ferrara, Siena and Florence. Celebrities are attracted to the fun and this year’s race included Daniel Day Lewis and David Coulthard. Day Lewis was co-driver with Jim Gianopulos, CEO of Fox Entertainment and they had the hood up on their black Jaguar XK 120. This was probably sensible given the British-like drizzle at the start, but many others were braving the elements. IMG 0948 flaneur Loes Van De Velde preparing for a wet Mille Miglia in an Austin Healy Silverstone Most of the cars taking part were open, and the raingear worn by many of the drivers looked impressive. David Coulthard was driving the Mercedes 300 SLR that Juan Manuel Fangio drove in the 1955 Mille Miglia and which Sterling Moss described as the ‘greatest sports car ever built.’ Coulthard flaneur David Coulthard and Thomas Rommerskirchen in the 1955 300 SLR It was the perfect car in all respects, except one – on a wet day like today. It lacked a roof. David Coulthard’s wet weather gear appeared to consist of a blue cap. Maybe as an ex-F1 driver he had access to more accurate weather forecasts than the rest of us, but I feared he was in for a soaking. The cars start from a ramp in Via Venezia to the west of the city, before racing around Brescia and out towards Desanzano. The numbering system gives the oldest cars that competed in the original 1927-1957 races the earliest starting times. So the more modern, faster cars leave last, giving everyone a chance to arrive at the first night’s stop at Ferrara at a similar hour. On the ramp the rain held off for the starting ceremony as Simon Kidson introduced the drivers to the crowds and wished them well before sending them on their way. It is amazing that these cars still exist, let alone that they can be driven to Rome. Nowadays speed is not of the essence and the participants are limited to 40 or 50kph, depending on the road. The participants have come from all over the world to compete in this premier competition for vintage cars. The drivers come from 31 different countries and 76 different marques are represented. The sight of these vintage cars weaving their way through the narrow streets of an Italian centro storico is stunning. Engines boomed round the centre of Brescia as car after car drove past the cafes and bars. Everyone waved at everyone, driver, co-drivers, cafe habitues, Campari drinkers and tourists. Being in Brescia for the Mille Miglia lets you see cars being driven that would normally only be seen in history books. There is plenty of room along the route for everyone to get a good view and the police presence, though high, is relaxed and allows the fans to get close to the cars and drivers. The first car left Brescia at 18.45, an OM 665 driven by Marcus Brennecke and Wolff Schimiegel. They led the race out towards Desenzano and a night’s stop at Ferrara. After that the route headed to Rome on Friday and back to Brescia on Saturday. Cars set off in batches continually until after 21.00. They started off with police escorts, but by the time they left Brescia they had merged with the normal traffic, giving the Italian commuters an attractive mobile automotive museum to look at as they drove home. ‘Motoring Royalty! Have a good one!’ Simon Kidson’s voice boomed out over the PA. Another car descended the ramp and headed off for a lap of Brescia before heading to the open road. People having dinner in a pizzeria on Corso Magenta suddenly found themselves in the best seats for a world-class vintage car rally. IMG 1258 flaneur That is one of the great things about the Mille Miglia. Anyone can turn up in Brescia and watch the action. There is no need to buy expensive tickets, you can wander around and see hundreds of amazing cars close up. You can admire the cars and talk to the drivers. They tend to be repeat performers in the race. Once bitten by the Mille Migla bug drivers need their annual fix of motoring through the beautiful Italian countryside. I think I’ve been bitten. I just have to buy a car that was made between 1927 and 1957. around and see hundreds of amazing cars close up. You can admire the cars and talk to the drivers. They tend to be repeat performers in the race. Once bitten by the Mille Migla bug drivers need their annual fix of motoring  through the beautiful Italian countryside. I think I’ve been bitten. I just have to buy a car that was made between 1927 and 1957.