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1000 Miles

14 Jun

For 30 years, Mille Miglia has been bringing together exeptional personalities to the world of sport. Today, the reenactment of the Mille Miglia is an event in a class of its own. Mille Miglia has combined tradition with innovation, and vividly coloured that combination with creativity, elegance, beautiful scenery and the Italian way of living. This plethora of rich elements has made the Mille Miglia a symbol of Italian excellence all over the world. For the 2015 edition, the race made his first time ever stop in Parma, not just a passage like many years before. The first cars arrived early evening and we were there to greet them, along with a very big crowd.

There is an old motto that says fuel rather than blood flows through the veins of the people who come from Brescia. Brescians innate passion for racing had already come alive in the city by the end of the nineteenth century; from 1895 to 1898 three motor racing competitions had taken place, but by 1899 that number had gone up to a good twenty races. The first appearance of a racecar in the Brescian territory came about on March 14,1899, during the Verona-Mantua-Brescia-Verona race, when Ettore Bugatti won, driving his Prinetti & Stucchi three-wheeler vehicle. Although the Brescians were involved in the organization of this Veronese race, they really wanted a race of their own. They therefore decided to organize two races immediately, the first of which took place on September 10, 1899, and the second on the following day.

That Sunday, Brescia held the first-ever “Speed Race”, a 6 km automobile race on the ring road of the city, in addition to a motorcycle race. On the following Monday, the Brescia- Mantua-Verona-Brescia 223 km race began. In 1904, the “Brescian Raceway” was prepared, connecting the northern Italian cities, Brescia-Cremona-Mantua-Brescia. The circuit was 185 kilometers and was to be repeated twice. The first race took place on September 5, 1904, during a special week in Brescia known as “la Settimana di Brescia”. The following year, this special “week” was repeated and on September 9, 1905, the “Brescian Raceway” held the first Coppa Florio race. Until after the end of WWI, no further races were organized at which point the Brescians came back with flying colors. Thanks to Arturo Mercanti, an “adopted” Brescian, the city took on the organization of the Italian Grand Prix, which was added to a wide range of events organized under the name of “International Automotive-Air Circuit” in 1921. In addition to the preparation of a race known as “Flying Kilometre”, and other races designed for minor categories, greater attention was obviously given to Brescia’s new Raceway, known as “Circuito della Fascia d’Oro.” The raceway’s name “Fascia d’Oro” (Golden Ribbon) was taken from the area near Montichiari, a small town near Brescia where the first Italian Grand Prix (Gran Premio d’Italia) was initiated on September 4, 1921.

In 1922, much to Brescia’s chagrin, Arturo Mercanti opened the “Monza Circuit” and moved the Italian Gran Prix to this newly constructed raceway in the town of Monza, north of Milan, where it still takes place. Brescia’s great passion for motor vehicles prompted them to set up their own Automobile Club in 1906. However, it remained under the wings of the Milan Automobile Club until 1926, when the official Brescia Automobile Club was established under the new rules of the Royal Automobile Club of Italy. These regulations were then officially instituted by the law-decree of November 14, 1926. This decree granted the establishment of the Brescia Automobile Club, as well as the Public Motor Vehicle Registry (PRA).

On January 18, 1927, official offices opened on Corso Magenta, where the preparation activities for the first Mille Miglia Cup began to take place. From that day on, the name “Mille Miglia” along with “Red Arrow” trademark have remained the inalienable property of the Brescia Automobile Club. Since its inception, the Brescia Automobile Club has kept its tradition alive of being one of the most important worldwide associations for sports events. Some of the competitions organized by ACI Brescia included: “Circuito di Brescia”, “Circuito di Garda”, “Brescia-Edolo-Pontedilegno”, “Colle S. Eusebio”, “Trofeo Lumezzane” and “Cronoscalata del Monte Maddalena”. The dedication and passion of the great Renzo Castagneto continues today.

With this dedication and passion in mind, the Brescia Automobile Club is committed to its endeavor and could never veers off its path. Through dedication and diligent hard work, ACI Brescia maintains its unsurpassed wealth of talent and bravery that has written memorable moments in the pages of history. One of the ACI Brescia’s roles is also to preserve Brescia’s motor tradition and rich heritage in the world of sports, not only a cultural heritage but a human one as well, which encompasses all the races that that have taken place on Brescian territory from 1899 to today.

Even this year, the Brescia Automobile Club had three important races on its calendar to organize: The “International Rally 1000 Miglia”, the timed uphill race known as “Trofeo Vallecamonica – Malegno-Ossimo-Borno” and the “Rally Ronde ACI Brescia”. Below the map of this year’s race….

 

During the past 10 years, there have been many, more or less faithful, reconstructions as to how the extraordinary epic adventure began, for what would come to be known as “the most beautiful race in the world”. The highly considered and obviously most credible version is without a doubt that stated by one of its founders, Giovanni Canestrini, written up in his very famous book “Mille Miglia”, edited in 1967. Throughout these pages, -also discussed in Giovannino Lurani’s equally famous 1978 book, “The History of 1000 Miglia”- is a description of the memorable incident that occurred on December 2, 1926, the day that has since been officially recognized as the birth of the Mille Miglia. Canestrini, tinged with a hint of ill-conceived irony, narrates how a group of Brescians arrived to his home in Milan on Via Bonaventura Cavalieri, which included Franco Mazzotti, Aymo Maggi, Renzo Castagnet, (the other three musketeers) and his friend, Flaminio Monti. The rest of the story is history, until Franco Mazzotti declares the words: “Mille Miglia Cup”.

Although having stuck to the facts, Giovanni Canestrini’s commentary has been considered partial and conditioned both by the desire of not wanting to rehash old politics and by the period in which he writes, a little more than two decades after the tragic events that saw the end of the fascist regime, after the World War. The reading of a similar article by the same Canestrini, published in “numero unico” of the Mille Miglia in 1930, offers a more complex vision, without a single modification to the narration of the events told thirty-seven years later, and is more true to the reality of the times of how the real facts unfolded at autumn’s end, in 1926.

The “brief meeting” was not an informal gathering of friends but had a rather important aim: “to carry out and christen this race”, the Mille Miglia. But what race at that time could have shaken up the industry, interesting manufacturers and builders alike? The rebirth of the Brescia Circuit had been considered but was soon dismissed, because that would have meant rebuilding facilities and roads, which would have meant nothing new, and manufacturers most likely would not have joined forces with a type of race that was already pasé. Besides, we were all anxious to get things rolling.

“What if we did a tour of Italy?” Too long and too difficult. “And Brescia-Rome-Brescia?” If it were on the right road. Rome and Brescia: two emblematic names. Italian autoracing had hoped for renewed strength, a comeback with this race that would have ideally linked Augusto Turati’s hometown, to which we owed the rebirth of Italian sports, to the nation’s capital, where il Duce displayed his desire to go through with the plans».Canestrini’s affirmations are not surprising: the delicate political situation during the regime dictated this behavior and, as he would later describe in 1967, things were not that easy.

The choice of racecourse, for example, was subject to the latest whims of wanting it all “to merge onto the capital”.The actual racecourse of 1600 km was more or less finalized. And what would be the name given to the race? “Gran Prix Brescia”, “G.P. of the Resistence”, “Gran Tourism Criterium”? No. These names were too common and didn’t mean anything. Maggi, Castagneto and I dismissed them one by one. Mazzotti – buried in an armchair, didn’t seem to be participating in the name selection process. Then, all of a sudden, as if struck by a flash of inspiration, he exclaimed: “the Mille Miglia Cup”! Great! The name had been found; we just needed consensus and approval by the Hierarchy and then the great race would take place».

What Canestrini doesn’t declare, in 1930, is the fear that the chosen name might not be accepted. In 1967, this is how the actual dialog went: «Franco Mazzotti was again the one to ask: “How long is the racecourse?” “1600 km”. “Meaning 1000 miles – noted Mazzotti, fresh from his American trip (the Italian airforce’s famous expedition with Italo Balbo) – Then why not the Mille Miglia Cup?” Everybody liked the name. Someone objected that the reference to an English metric system could sound bad to some of the zealous hierarchy. “Not at all”, I replied, “The Romans measured their distance in miles so we are perfectly in line with the roman tradition”. And everyone agreed. The Mille Miglia was officially born! I was the first to announce it in the Gazzetta dello Sport, on December 4″».

Over the years the race attracted not just cars and races enthusiasts, but also some “vips” like this year Ralph Schumacher, the english rapper Elliot Gleave and Joe Bastianich, or Paloma Picasso, Jeremy Irons, Adrien Brody, Jay Leno, Daniel Day Lewis and Rowan Atkinson from previous editions, just to cite a few….

My husband and our friend L. were so excited to see all those fancy cars, but it was nice also for us, “the girls”….

Obviously, we couldn’t end the evening without a dinner, right?

Carrots souffleè…..

Parma ham…..

Eggplant lasagna….

Fettuccine with culatello….

Asparagus risotto….

Piccata with roasted potatoes….

Red wine stew with roasted potatoes….

Really a perfect day…..

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Posted by on June 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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