The Lancia Appia Zagato GTS of Enrico Anselmi (G.P. Nuvolari class winner) departs at Brescia.
Photo: Giorgio Nada
Dark clouds begin to gather in my mind every spring as I park my car in Brescia and walk to scrutineering for the Mille Miglia Storica, to enjoy some of the most magnificent road racing cars in the world. All 375 of them are ready to set out on yet another gentlemanly drive through half of Italy in an event that commemorates the annual hell-for-leather charge to Rome and back from 1927 to 1957.
The race’s tragic 1957 swansong is never far from my thoughts as I mingle with the glorious old cars, each one now between 50 and 80 years old. Cars that once had millions of Italians glued to their radios as their gutsy drivers fought tooth and nail to be the first to complete the 1,000-mile nonstop marathon. But once the carefully planned Storica is on its way to the Eternal City, my macabre musings on the disaster that killed the original race stone dead are gradually soothed away by the joy of literally millions of spectators, who line the route. From Brescia to Rome and back, they cheer, wave like multicolored windmills and even shed a tear or two as a cross-section of the meticulously preserved, priceless survivors of the real Mille Miglia growl proudly past.
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