Las Corsas Piu Bellas del Mondo
July 11, 2014 7:20 PM   Subscribe

"Less a race than a celebration of motorsports heritage," the Mille Miglia classic car rally takes place every May. Its thousand-mile course wends from Brescia through Verona and Padua to Rome and then back north to Brescia by way of Bologna. (PDF) First staged in 1927 with 77 entrants, the now-annual event draws driving enthusiasts from around the world.

This year's Mille, with 451 cars, was called by some "the race of Oscars" due to the participation of two celebrated actors. (PDF). Academy Award winner Adrien Brody, who began the race in a black 1956 Mercedes 300SL, said the "charming adventure" was "like being in a Fellini movie." Jeremy Irons (Best Actor, 1990) drove a 1950 Jaguar XK 120 Lightweight.

Among the famous -- but non-Oscar-winning -- drivers were Filmmakers shot footage during this year's race for a documentary that's slated to debut at Cannes in May 2015. (Till then, the Mille Miglia YouTube channel will have to do.)

But why should the Italians have all the fun?
  • The California Mille, staged each April since 1991, gears up on San Francisco's Nob Hill with the largest free classic car show of its kind in America. This year 77 entrants gathered to see "Italian Consul General Mauro Battocchi...arrive in a vintage Italian car, greet the crowd and invite any or all to join him in singing 'Il Canto degli Italiani,' the Italian National Anthem. (At last year’s Mille Preview, Sig. Battocchi offered to buy anyone in the crowd a 1950s Alfa Romeo if they would join him in singing the anthem. There were no takers.)" The four-day rally began the next morning, going north across the Golden Gate Bridge, east to Lodi, through the Central Valley driving to the west shore of Lake Tahoe, then north into the Gold Lake region and on to Nevada City for lunch, down to Sacramento, through Locke, and west to the Napa Valley. "Continuing westward, the Mille [ambled] through rarely-traveled back roads ending the day at Cavallo Point... "[On] the final day, the California Mille [climbed] 2500 feet to the near top of Mt. Tamalpais, the highest point in Marin County, smile for a commemorative group photo, then [motored] north for lunch in the village of Nicasio (population 600+/-; major attractions: Druid’s Hall, Volunteer Fire Department, Rancho Nicasio Restaurant), [wandered] along the Pacific Coast to Occidental, then [turned] south for the run back to Sausalito and the final night’s awards banquet at Cavallo Point." Although founder Martin Swig (inventor of the auto mall), passed away last year, the event will continue under the auspices of sons Howard and David Swig. (David: “It was never a matter of saying, 'Are we going to continue? Continuing was always the plan...My brother [Howard] and I grew up with the spirit of the Mille Miglia in our blood.”) The sponsoring group, Amici americani della Mille Miglia, is also known for its annual New Year’s Day “Anti-Football Drive”), and will in 2015 stage a version of Mexico’s border-to-border La Carrera Panamericana.
  • Each November since 1989, the Patagonia resort town of San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, has hosted its own Mil Millas. The three-stage course loops through Argentina's Río Negro, Neuquén and Chubut provinces, plus a small patch on the Chilean side of the border; all three stages start and end at Bariloche's luxurious Llao Llao Hotel. About 150 classic and sports cars, all built before 1981, participated last year. (Photos here.) The 2014 rally is scheduled for Nov 19-23; registration opens Monday, July 14.
  • The Japanese version, La Festa Mille Miglia, took off in 1997. Next scheduled for October 2014, the 1300-km race starts and ends at Tokyo-Harajuku. The 2013 event celebrated "three fundamental ideologies—'Respect for the old,' 'Always young at heart,' 'Friendship among participants.'”
posted by GrammarMoses (5 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I wanna do it in a 1969 Cadillac Fleetwood droptop with a transplanted 500cui Caddy motor massaged by MTS, and why not? Supercharge the fucker. Lemon yellow with a chocolate interior and top. Also, top-shelf amps, trunk bass backing up resto-mod speakers complete with a modern head so Leno can hear me playing Monster Magnet's "Space Lord" at a million dB's as I blast past his Jag on the straightaways.

I always wanted a Kickstarter, this may be the one.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:31 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

To seal the deal, I'll have two bumper stickers on it - One in blue that reads "MeFi" and the other that reads "If you're reading this and you're going for coffee with Jerry Seinfeld, you suck. Also you have very good vision."
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:49 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm good for $5.
posted by GrammarMoses at 8:21 PM on July 11, 2014

Great post. Thanks!
posted by Mr.Me at 8:33 PM on July 11, 2014

Oh man I used to love playing Mille Bornes. Coup-fourré !

Wait, what?
posted by infinitewindow at 8:41 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

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