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.
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.
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.
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.
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.