The hoped for increase in foreign entrants as a result of Caracciola’s triumph the previous year did not materialize. In fact the numbers of total entrants continued to decrease and it was left to Alfa Romeo to provide 40% of the cars that did take part. Caracciola himself would be racing an Alfa Romeo this year as Mercedes had quit racing both officially and unofficially. Alfa Romeo’s 8C 2300 proved to be the top car on the international scene and for the Mille Miglia the factory had cars for Caracciola, Borzacchini, Campari and Nuvolari. Missing was Luigi Arcangeli who was killed practicing for the Italian Grand Prix. Varzi showed up driving a Bugatti T55.
As the race began Nuvolari was able to open a small lead over Varzi and Caracciola. As they entered the mountains Varzi met a rock he did not like which left a hole in his fuel tank that could not be repaired. In the confusion of Pietro Ghersi’s crash Nuvolari also came to woe with a broken nose as his reward. Entering Rome Caracciola now assumed the lead. When they reached the Adriatic coast Campari had worked himself into first only to lose it when his co-driver, Sozzi crashed into a wall while taking a turn at the wheel. Campari was not amused and went after the smaller co-driver but considering the fact that the other leading drivers took sole possession of their steering wheels who had he really to blame?
When Caracciola retired with a cracked chassis the race was left to Borzacchini followed by Trossi and Scarfiotti. Alfa Romeos filled 9 out of the first 10 spots. Englishman Brian Lewis was able to finish the race in 25th driving a Talbot 105 even after driving miles off course when he took a wrong turn. Later the Englishman was able to relate a fantastic story on his Italian adventure. It seems that with one headlight out of action he was unable to see, in time a sharp curve in the road while traveling in access of 90 mph. The car became airborne and landed in a ditch. Miraculously the crew and car survived with a broken water pump and a minor hole to their fuel tank that was patched with some chewing gum. The loud crash got the attention of the local populace who assumed the grim task of retrieving the bodies only to be cajoled by the lucky crew to grab a rope and haul the car back on the road. Amidst shouts of English mixed in with Italian they were able to accomplish this feat and the car was soon to rejoin the race to the cheers of the crowd!
We still stood a fairly good chance, but on the long straight roads around Venice Siena (Co-driver) seemed rather worried. The oil-pressure was flickering, and at the Alfa depot in Padua we stopped and checked the gauge. Nothing wrong with the instrument, so the trouble lay in the engine. There was nothing for it but to retire. We accepted a lift with a couple of enthusiasts. We should have known better. The driver, carried away by the honour thrust upon him, set out to impress the two “racers”. It was terrible. No good asking him to slow down; he was quite drunk with speed. We could only sit tight, hope, and put on our crash hats again. A good idea. Shortly after Desenzano he wrapped the car round a post carrying overhead wires for the tramway, and our drive came to an end in an impressive display of fireworks. We hitched another, and fortunately quieter, lift to Brescia that evening. – Piero Taruffi in Works Driver