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The Mille Miglia – Italy's Vintage Auto Race

Taking place this weekend is the famous Italian vintage auto race called the Mille Miglia.  It was an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957. 

The race was banned after two fatal crashes.  The crash in 1957 took the lives of the drivers and nine spectators. In 1977, the race was revived under the name Mille Miglia Storica, a rally-type race for pre-1957 cars like Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Porsche and Bugatti. Only the cars selected from the models which took part in the original races can participate in the Mille Miglia today.

Neal Dempsey and Jim Pugh at the Mille Miglia

Teams and cars come from all over the world, but it is difficult to get entrance. The number of participants is limited and the organizers are very selective about the cars that are accepted. My husband, Neal, and friend, Jim Pugh, were lucky to be selected to drive a 1952 Fiat Giuliana in the 2013 race. So exciting!

The race this year starts Thursday, May 19 and will end Sunday, May 22. It always starts in Brescia, turns around in Rome and returns to Brescia. There are 3 legs to the race with overnight stops in Rimini, Rome and Parma. Before the start, spectators can view all the perfectly restored cars in the main piazza and along the streets of Brescia. The late afternoon start is exciting, even as a spectator, with the roar of those engines.

Believe me, the race is still an endurance race – for the drivers and for the cars, many of which do not make it to the finish.  I made videos of the cars driving through the streets to the start of the race.  You can see Neal and Jim taking off by clicking here.  For another video showing more cars, click here.

Brescia is in northern Italy near Lake Como, so it would be a great destination this weekend of the year to observe such a unique race and then spend a few days at one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.

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