28th Mille Miglia Storico: Great sport

Hans-Dieter Seufert
28. Mille Miglia Storico
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The twenties and thirties of the last century are considered the golden age of motorsport - in principle, these great years coincided with the era in which A lfa Romeo was one of the best, sportiest and most exclusive automobile manufacturers and laid the foundation for put today's myth. The most famous races of this time were the Mille Miglia, the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans.

From 1928 Alfa Romeo won the Mille Miglia in a row

A look at the results list of the The Mille Miglia illustrates the superiority of the Alfa Romeo models: for the premiere in March 1927, an OM built in the town of Brescia was still on the list of winners, but from 1928 the cars with the Cross of Milan and the Visconti snake on the radiator took over the scepter - and won no less than ten times before the outbreak of war, only interrupted by a triumph for Mercedes (1931) and BMW (1940). That is why it is still a very special pleasure to drive the 1,000 miles, revived as a classic car race in 1977, in an Alfa - especially in a pre-war model like the 6C 1750 Gran Sport.

'This car represents the best for me the typical Alfa properties: A small car with high-quality technology, a six-cylinder with two overhead camshafts driven by a vertical shaft and a compressor ', explains the Swiss Axel Marx. In addition, one of the most exciting duels of the Mille Miglia is associated with the 1750 Gran Sport: In 1930, the two arch enemies Achile Varzi and Tazio Nuvolari - at times the only ones who could hold a candle to each other - entered the race in identical cars. As usual, we started individually and drove against the clock, Varzi chasing first. During the night, however, Nuvolari, who was said to be in league with the devil, caught up. To lull his eternal opponent into safety, Nuvolari races up with the headlights switched off and just before Brescia passes the raging Varzi, who can no longer counter. But that's not all: The flying Mantuan has for the first time achieved an average speed of over 100 km /h with the more than 100 hp 1750 - over largely unpaved roads, through towns and villages and over winding passes.

Only six Alfa Romeo 1750 GS with Brianza body

No wonderthat Alfa collector Marx has always wanted such a car. 'Unfortunately, for many years there were so many fakes that I almost lost interest,' says the 54-year-old professor of vascular surgery. Seven years ago he finally discovered his dream car: one of only six built, which instead of the usual Zagato body have a slimmer body from Brianza. Four of them are missing, besides Marx's 1750 GS with the chassis number 108 14395 only one other Brianza is known, it is with a collector in Indianapolis. 108 14395 is still largely in its original condition, which can also be seen in the fact that Marx hops off the launch pad on Viale Venezia in Brescia a little inelegantly on Thursday evening at 7.49 p.m. and 20 seconds. 'You mustn't let the multi-plate clutch slip, otherwise it will break immediately,' explains Marx and grins: 'Anyone who drives off very smoothly with a 6C has installed a modern clutch.'

It takes a good two hours for the entire Mille Miglia field of 375 classics to be on the road. In principle the best thing that was built between 1927 and 1957 - with a few splashes of color: Because only vehicle types that drove in the real Mille Miglia, but in some post-war years were over 500 cars (which was also due to the fact that the Participants received free fuel and hard-to-find tires), the Alfa, BMW, Ferrari, Mercedes and Maserati also include less sporty cars such as duck (!) Or beetle.

Highlight of the rally: Monte Terminillo

After a lap of honor through the old town of Brescia and the first four of a total of 42 regularity tests, the field goes on the usual route towards Lake Garda, but suddenly swings away behind Pozzolengo: for the first time in many years that means first stage destination of the Mille Miglia no longer Ferrara, but Bologna. This, too, can now be sold as a tradition, after all, at least the pre-war routes up to 1938 crossed the capital of Emilia-Romagna on the return journey. Scoffers murmur, however, that the route change is mainly due to the pack of 150 Ferraris driving ahead of the Mille Miglia and the larger hotel capacities that it requires. 'In any case, two long-term components of the Mille Miglia were sacrificed as a result,' says Axel Marx: 'The beautiful through-town in Verona along the arena and the enthusiastic midnight reception in Ferrara.'

The next morning from Gambettola, where the drivers are traditionally supplied with strawberries, everything is fine again and the route is the same again. Via San Marino and Urbino the coolers constantly point towards Rome, but in front of the Eternal City the grim Monte Terminillo with rain, snow and fog is still waiting. “Everyone will remember that for a long time,” enthuses Marx, “walls of snow so high that they would seem to collapse over us. And something like thatthick fog that you could hardly see the radiator. 'The two kilometer high Terminillo is also an absolute highlight for Jochen Mass:' That was sensational, 'says the ex-Formula 1 driver, who was in a former John Fitch -Mercedes 300 SL drives an unusual co-driver for a walk: the Italian rally ace Massimo 'Miki' Biasion. 'Everyone in Italy knows that,' laughs Jochen Mass.

King's stage over 560 kilometers

In Rome, the usual chaos in the city center awaits the post-war drivers in particular; early on the third morning, the teams tackle the 560-kilometer royal stage, they have already managed a good 750. There are through-towns such as Radicofani, Pienza, Siena and Florence A single street festival. Tight time constraints whip the drivers ahead, which later, when the shadows get longer, leads to some hair-raising situations. 'That was sometimes tight,' says Marx. At the finish, Giuliano Cané celebrates his tenth overall t victory at the Mille Miglia on a car that won in 1940: the BMW 328 Touring Coupé. The fact that the Bolognese received a small special bonus for the original winning car, with which the points are offset, does not detract from the triumph - he would have won that way. 'Cané is simply the best,' praises Marx. After all, the Alfa Museum team secured the women's trophy with journalists Francesca Grimaldi and Laura Confalonieri in a 6C 2300. And as the record winner of the real Mille Miglia and multiple winner of the re-edition, Alfa Romeo can lean back and relax anyway: In the 1,000 mile race the golden age continues for the Milanese.

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