It is doubtful whether the “four musketeers” originally intended the race to be an annual event. However, rumour has it that the day after the conclusion of the 1927 race, Augusto Turati gave a detailed account of the event to Benito Mussolini, who apparently made his wishes clear with the short but unequivocal instruction: ‘It is to be repeated’.
After the success of the initial race the organizers sought to attract more foreign entries but were met by limited success. Bugatti brought three Type 43s driven by Brilli-Peri, Nuvolari and Pietro Bordino. Interestingly there were two American makers present, La Salle and Chryslers. La Salle’s two car team included last year’s winner Fernando Minoia. O.M. and Lancia also were back for more glory. Many figured that Bugatti should be favored but somebody forgot to tell that to Alfa Romeo and their chief designer Vittorio Jano. Fresh from his successful P2 Grand Prix car, Jano had built a trio of heavily modified 1500cc sports cars. The star of the team was Giuseppe Campari, the Italian driver and would-be opera singer who at 241 lbs was literally larger than life. It’s assumed that he and his co-driver Ramponi became “close” friends in the car’s tight compartment! All told the Alfas made up more than 25% of the entries that year.
The route for the race remained the same and 83 entries left Brescia for an uncertain fate. On the road to Bologna the Bugattis held the lead but rather than the more experienced Brilli-Peri it was new man Nuvolari that held the lead with another old veteran Pietro Bordino in third. The Bugattis had the speed but sadly not the endurance and as they crossed the Apennines brakes and overheating added to ignition in their litany of problems. By the time they reached Rome the Alfa of Campari/Ramponi was in the lead followed closely by Gismondi’s Lancia.
On the return trip Campari was still in the lead but could not shake the Lancia test driver who had the temerity to challenge an established Grand Prix star. Only mechanical misfortune ended his race. With successive challengers falling by the wayside Campari’s Alfa cruised into Brescia and claimed the company’s first of many wins. Campari the would be opera star would have to put off his singing career for a little longer.
The second race was now in the books. The winning time was almost two hours faster than that of the previous year. Though all three Bugatti’s finished the race with Brilli-Peri’s 6th place their best result the factory would not enter another Mille Miglia. For Pietro Bordino, 38 years of age and considered by many to be the best driver of the 20’s, it would be his last Mille Miglia. Generations change in motorsports not through birth but through death and death would come to Bordino in a few weeks time while practicing for the Targa Florio when a dog crossed his path and jammed his steering.
He had started his career in 1908, a man in a hurry from the start. He knew only one speed, flat-out. His death like those of others of comparable stature shocked the motorsport world. Nuvolari would dedicate his first win to the great champion. The new generation headed by Nuvolari and Varzi would replace Brilli-Peri and Bordino and through Bordino the connection to Louis Wagner and the great city to city races of the 19th century would be broken.