Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


THE ORIGINAL Mille Miglia, 1927 – 1957, was one of the world’s most grand—and outrageous—motoring events. See “Jenk’s Box of Magic,” The Mille Miglia Storica is its modern counterpart, first held in 1977 and run more or less annually since 1983.

It still travels from Brescia, in northern Italy, to Rome and return. But instead of an out-and-out non-stop road race, this retrospettiva is a four-day rally—albeit a high-speed one brimming with plenty of brio.


There’s encouragement along the Storica route, from all ages.

Martin Swig had his Alfa Romeo 1900 entered in the 1989 Storica, and he offered a co-driver role to automotive journalist T C Browne and me, T C accompanying Martin on the Brescia-Rome portion, I to follow the pack in a borrowed Fiat, then swap the co-driver role with T C for the run back to Brescia.

Needless to say, I brought along my camera.


Each town became a rolling car museum, with enthusiastic viewers.

Martin’s Alfa was a perfect Storica car, an Italian coupe that made all the right noises yet had protection from the occasional Mille Miglia rainstorm that drenched participants in open sports cars.

The best car sounds came on urban thoroughfares.

The best car sounds came on urban thoroughfares.

I played catch-up with our borrowed Fiat Tipo DGT on the two days from Brescia to Rome. My only adventure came in the wee hours of the second morning as I sought our assigned hotel in the back streets of the Eternal City. Twice I found myself traveling through a tunnel emptying into a giant piazza near St. Peter’s.

Who would have guessed the Vatican had 3:00 a.m. street racing?

On the road north out of Rome, I came to appreciate how Martin conserved the Alfa’s momentum in keeping up with—and occasionally passing—more potent machinery.


In time, I kept a running tally as the gray Alfa passed Ferraris of all vintages.


Not that Martin and I didn’t get passed now and then. Steve Earle, guiding light of the Monterey Historics, had his C-Type Jaguar there in 1989, with Historics Ferrari driver Dr. Lou Sellyei as his co-pilot.


The Earle/Sellyei C-Type Jaguar snarls past us.

As with the traditional Mille Miglia, thousands of people line the Storica route from Brescia to Rome and return. Whole families cheer as cars roar past. Policemen stationed along the route wave their caps in encouraging automotive hooliganism.


This woman sums up the Italian love affair with the automobile.

The morning after Brescia’s finish-line festivities, Pirelli PR friend Denise Richards, T C and I had a mimosa-fueled celebration, with a gift bottle of sparkling wine collected along the route and room-service blood oranges.


T C does the honors with the bubbly.

A good time was had by all. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2014

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This entry was posted on March 8, 2014 by in Classic Bits, Just Trippin' and tagged , , , .
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