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B 6240

text Gianni Mercatali

June 12, 2008

1000 miglia. The most beautiful race in the world

From very competitive race to fascinating historic re-enactment

“I’ll stop racing the day I win the Millemiglia”. Incredulous, at the victorious arrival in Brescia of his Ferrari 4100, Piero Taruffi had to be told several times that he was first,  had finally won. He didn’t know that Collins, in first place at Florence, had withdrawn. Great joy for the fifty year old champion, mourning for the Ferrari and the world. On that ill-fated day, 12 May 1957the story of the Millemiglia competition ended.. At Guidizzolo, in the province of Mantova, at less than fifty kilometres from the end, Alfonso de Portago, Ferrari’s top driver, burst a tyre at three hundred kilometres an hour, crashing into the public and killing himself, his navigator and ten members of the public. Three days later, the Italian government banned racing on public roads.  The end of an era. But the Millemiglia, as Giovanni Canestrini defined it, is the state of mind of a country. 24 editions, from 1927 to 1957, the finest race in the world, brought Italy to the notice of the world after the First and Second World Wars, by means of this extraordinary race of speed which involved thousands of people, hundreds of drivers and numerous great names of the car industry. Total involvement, not only of the world of sport, told with poetry by Federico Fellini in his film Amarcord. Even if we may no longer race on public roads, the Freccia Rossa cannot die. In fact.. In 1982 the first bi-annual replay of  this great event was proposed. No longer simply a race of speed, but a competition according to strict rules. The enormous success led the organizers, in 1987, to organize the event annually. The Millemiglia, in its modern version, began a new career. And this year will see the twenty-seventh event, overtaking the original number of events from which this race was born. It is a complicated event. Of great cultural, technical, touristic and sporting interest, organized, since last year, by  Alessandro Casali and Sandro Binelli, two young, bright businessmen, both very determined and enthusiastic. The most sophisticated travelling museum in the world, with over three hundred and fifty jewels which have made the history of the car, crossing our region of Italy, along the same roads that saw such breathtaking driving by the greatest of drivers.

There is a particular relationship between the Millemiglia and Toscany. The Freccia Rossa does not only consist of those heart-stopping moments after the downhill curve at Radicofani and before it climbs the heights of the Futa and Faticosa passes, but it is welcomed with enormous enthusiasm and warmth in the cities of Florence and Siena. Florence is the home town of Clemente Biondetti, winner of the fourth edition of speed racing, the first of which was in 1947,  and of Pasquale Ermini, nicknamed Pasquino. Brilliant builder, his cars raced side by side with the Alfa Romeo,  Maserati and even the Ferrari. In this edition, the city has contributed twelve cars with Florentine drivers and equipment, while the Start is in Brescia. With a new-entry, the young Niccolò and Filippo Ricci in a 1952 Fiat 8V. Giuliano e Giulio Bensi will also be driving a Fiat 8V, but 1954 version. Eugenio Ercoli and Angela Citroni alternate driving a 1955 Ermini 357 Sport. In another Ermini 1100 Sport of 1950, are Gilberto Focardi and Nicola Marini. Yet another Ermini 1100 Sport Siluro, 1949 edition, is driven by Stefano Pandolfi and Andrea Gallinelli. And in a 1951 Ermini Sport Siluro, Remo and Lorenzo Squarcia. The oldest Tuscan car will be the  Giannini 750 Sport driven by Giovanni and Luca Maggiorelli. Then there are three foreign cars. A 1955 Mercedes 300 SL, commonly known as the  “seagull’s wing” driven by Manlio and Gabriele Perrotta. A 1964 Triumph TR2 with Luca Parenti and Gabriele Cappellini and a 1966 Jaguar XK140 driven by Corrado Fratini, with his son Jacopo as co-driver. Then the great names who have fought historic duels. The 1951 Ferrari 225 S Export Berlinetta driven by Marcello Fratini and Alessandro Bruni against another rocket: the 1956 Maserati A 6 G54 driven by Mauro Lotti and Stefano Ricci. A fantastic procession of exceptional cars, winding its way through the Tuscan countryside. The first car will reach Tuscany on Saturday the 16th of May in the province of Siena, at 9.00 in the morning. It will go through San Casciano dei Bagni, Castigione d’Orcia, Pienza, San Quirico d’Orcia, Siena, with a time check in Piazza del Campo, which the first car where will cross at 11.04 and the last at 13.34. A lunch break at  Monteriggioni then Castellina in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Florence, with a time check in Machiavelli with the first car at 14.07 and the last at 16.37. Having crossed the centre of the city, the cars will race up the Bolognese towards San Piero a Sieve, Barberino di Mugello, Firenzuola, Passo della Futa and della Raticosa towards Monghidoro. And here we will stop because…we are now in Emilia.

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