Report and photos by Dirk de Jager
Italy in the spring and 420 classic cars making their journey around the country for a 1000 mile drive. It sounds almost like a fairy tale and perhaps this year it slightly was. In the days preceding the 2013 running of the Mille Miglia, the weather was nice and warm with clear blue skies, yet on Wednesday, when everybody arrived for technical scrutineering, the clear blue skies were replaced with some clouds. Yet, spirits remained high, because after all you are in Italy for the Mille Miglia and visiting with some of the world’s most stunning cars being checked before they go out for a long drive.
However on Thursday, the first day of the Mille Miglia, the fun was a bit over. The day normally sees the crowds flock into the historic centre of Brescia to wonder around all the beautiful machinery, while enjoying a nice espresso. This year the crowds were, for Mille Miglia standards, fairly meager since the heavens opened their gates wide open and the rain kept pouring down. The tone for the 2013 dash across Italy was set. Everybody has no choice than to brave the weather and come to the Piazza della Logia to have the final inspection done on their car and then hopefully find a way to keep their cars a bit dry, especially the open ones that are abundant at the Mille Miglia. There were several hasty solutions with umbrellas, plastic covers and whatever they can get their hands on to try to keep the inside dry. Although, with the often heavy rain and wind, that proved to be very difficult.
Luckily around the starting time the Italian gods seemed to approve the beautiful machinery at the starting line and stopped the rain for a while, albeit for several other spots that was a day too late. Several of the historic towns on the first evening’s route had to be bypassed since a river had flooded the area and the 1000 car caravan had to resort to go over the highway for an extended time, skipping some great towns.
For the second day, with the start in Ferrara and headed down to the capital of Rome, it looked like a repeat performance as the previous day: WET! Although the morning was rainy, around noon the sun finally came out and the joy of motoring in Italy was finally starting to take place.
In 2013 the organization of the Mille Miglia was back in hands of the Automobile Club de Brescia and they clearly wanted to show a clear break between them and the past five years. With all new stickers and presentations on the ramp, they also got rid of that annoying theme song that used to be played everywhere all day long. They went with a bigger diversity on cars, placing a good part of the entrants in the Etceterini section that showed an amazing field of relatively unknown cars. The Italians did know how to build their small specials back in the day.
Another big surprise was the amount of Bentleys present, ranging from 4.5 Litres to Blowers, Speed Six and even a Derby. Why this decision was made eludes this writer, since according to the rules only models that entered in the actual Mille Miglia started should be allowed to enter. Not that we should be complaining too much, as it’s a great sight to see some of the fastest lorries in the world thundering down on these small Italian roads.
On Friday the Automobile Club de Brescia made another small mistake. This year they wanted to shake up the roads and so on every day there where noticeable differences in the roads compared to previous years. Although, now for second year in a row the Mille Miglia skipped the Terminillo pass, by far the most stunning part and the best road of Friday afternoon. Was there still too much snow there perhaps? There has been a hard winter across Europe after all, yet without that section, Friday almost becomes a letdown since all the regulars are eagerly awaiting that great stretch of road.
On the last and longest day from Rome back to Brescia, there were clear blue skies that promised some great drives around some of the most stunning parts of Italy. This year everybody breathed a sigh of relief that they could drive through Radicofani again, since last year that had to be bypassed at the last minute due to a gas leak. Even though some light rain came back in the late afternoon, spirits remained high and this year the victory went to the Argentinian team off Tonconogy-Berisso with a Bugatti T40. Hopefully the Automobile Club de Brescia can fine tune some of the roads for next year. Most of all, hopefully it won’t rain so badly anymore so that everybody can enjoy this marvelous historical event in the way it deserves.
Photographer Dirk de Jager documented the 2013 Mille Migla Storica, bringing the following photo gallery that artfully shows the interesting entrants and scenery found at this year’s event. We split up Dirk’s 100 pictures into two galleries. The first gallery starting below features our favorite 50 images, all displayed in the full-width view of our website, while the second gallery (and rally results) can be found on the last page of the article and gives a comprehensive view of all the photographs.