FavoReview: Mille Miglia Museum

This summer a holiday in Italy was unavoidable. Actually the plan was to relax and enjoy the sun. But, let’s be honest, driving around the beautiful Lake Garda is on everybody’s wish list! So before you know it, you’re enjoying curvy roads… A terrible coincidence that the Mille Miglia Museum was just 30 minutes driving away. A superb museum you don’t want to miss, especially when you call yourself a true petrol head.

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The museum is located in Brescia. In a monastery build in 1008 you will find everything about the historic and super famous race. The building is perfect for a museum like this. It immediately sets the mood for your Mille Miglia- experience.

Off course the most important pieces of the race are the cars. That is why you find a lot of cars in this museum. Brescia has always been passionate about races. From 1895 about twenty motor racing competitions had taken place. In 1899 the first racecar appeared on the streets of Brescia, with Ettore Bugatti behind the steering wheel.

In 1904 during “The week of Brescia” the first race was held at the “Brescian Raceway”. A 185 km (114 mile) track linking Brescia-Cremona-Mantua-Brescia. They had to race two laps. A year later this race was called “Coppa Florio” (same family as from the Targa Florio race on Sicilly). After World War I this Gran Prix race was moved to the Monza circuit.

In 1927 thanks to Brescia’s passion for motor vehicles the Mille Miglia (Italian for thousand miles) was born along with the Red Arrow logo. The course is 1.597 km (992 miles) long and changed almost every year.

Between 1927 and 1957, in 1955, Sir Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson set the ultimate record in their Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR with number 722. They needed just 10 hours and 7 minutes to complete the race. Average speed 157,65 km/h (98 mph)!

After two fatal crashes in 1957 the race was banned. The first crash took the life of Triumph TR3 driver Joseph Göttgens. The second crash was the Ferrari 335-S that took the lives of driver Alfonso de Portago, navigator Edmund Nelson and nine spectators (5 were children). In total 56 people (drivers/navigators/spectators) died between 1927 and 1957 during the race.

From 1958 the race resumed as a rally. A route at legal speeds, with a few special stages, driven at full speed. In1961 the rally was discontinued and in 1977 the Mille Miglia became a parade for pre-1957 cars. The rally now takes several days and has a few special stages. In these special stages it’s important to hit the exact time as given by the organization. Penalty points are given when you finish the special stage too fast or too slow.

A nice detail is that one hour before the official rally begins, the Ferrari Tribute to Mille Miglia starts. They are part of the official rally and drive the same route. It’s a very spectacular sight to see so many Ferrari’s from years between 1958 to today. In 2010, when the first Ferrari Tribute to Mille Miglia took place, FavoRoads founder Kaj was lucky enough to be selected to participate in this event! A review about this experience can be found shortly.

Back to the museum! It consists of nine time sections, seven are devoted to the 1927-1957 Mille Miglia, one to the 1958-1961 rally and one to the contemporary Mille Miglia. Every section has private collector cars, a computer station offering information and images and screens which display original films of the race/rally. To set the mood even better all sections have time dedicated outfits and billboards matching the displayed cars.

Notes:
If you visit this museum during the Mille Miglia rally we recommend you to be a spectator along the course!

Special Thanks to:
Museo della Mille Miglia
Photography by Brent Semmelink

FavoReview by Brent & Kaj

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