May Madness at the Mille Miglia
For the last several years, the Mille Miglia has been under new management. If you’ve participated in the past but haven’t been back recently, you can expect a much better all-around-event – albeit a bit more commercial. Here are a few tips about the new Mille Miglia for those considering giving it a go.
1. Some cars are more eligible. Just because your car is eligible doesn’t mean you will be accepted. Every year the entries far exceed the 375 slots. Manufacturers are big sponsors, so unless you’re Jackie Stewart, don’t expect your Gullwing to be a shoe-in. The situation is similar for the BMW 328s and 507s. Other tough entries are Lancia Aurelias and Alfa Giuliettas, simply due to the large number of applications for a limited number of slots. Don’t buy one of these cars with the sole intent of running the Mille Miglia because you may be sorely disappointed. The best ways to increase your chances is to enter a pre-war car (good), a relatively rare and significant car (better) or a car that ran the Mille Miglia “in period” (best). Of course, if you want a lock in an entry, become a sponsor!
2. No papers, no invite. All cars must have a FIVA ID Card to be eligible. You can obtain one by contacting the Historic Vehicle Association in the U.S. and Canada (historicvehicle.org). This involves an application and physical inspection of your car. You should allow at least a month for this to be completed. Generally, the Mille Miglia organization will only accept cars that are strictly as they were delivered new (or exactly as modified in-period for competition). These are FIVA classifications A/1 to A/3 and B/1 to B/3. In short, this means roll bars, fuel cells, race tires, electronic ignition, braided hoses and factory “works” replicas or “tribute” cars are not permitted. Only authentic period equipment is permitted. No exceptions.
3. Deadline December. The Mille Miglia application deadline is typically around December 20, so start planning in the fall at the earliest if you want to get your car ready. In addition to the FIVA ID, the Mille Miglia will require photos of the car as part of the online application to verify that it’s prepared to period specification. You have one shot at this so make sure your equipment is correct. The online application is a bit tedious, and your bank may need to be contacted in advance to approve the international transaction. The organizers are very strict. Remember: The deadline is the deadline!
4. $25/mile plus insurance. No one said it was going to be cheap, but $25,000 is still a considerable sum, even if it is for a once in a lifetime adventure. Expect nearly $10,000 for the Mille Miglia fees, $10,000 for shipping round-trip from the U.S., and $5,000 or so for you and your co-driver to fly to Europe and stay for a week. This is on the cheap side and does not include race prep, which may be considerable. Of course, Hagerty does a great job of handling the insurance needs out of its European office.
5. Prep matters. Your first objective is to finish. This is a hard 1,000 miles and your car must be in top order. There is nothing worse than the disappointment of spending your Mille Miglia on the side of the road with mechanical, electrical or cooling issues. Get the car ready well in advance and take it out on some long distance touring events. If you can, try to avoid the first post-restoration miles being the Mille Miglia. This is usually a recipe for failure no matter what your restorer says. It’s also best to have a support team on the event to get you back on the road if you encounter any trouble. The Mille Miglia doesn’t provide mechanical support. This is a race; keeping the car running is your job.
6. By air or by sea? Which is better: transport by air or by sea? Flying the car is better, simply because the car is in transit for a relatively short time, reducing the opportunity for damage. Traveling by boat takes several weeks and can jostle the car considerably. Containers sometimes get lost at sea, but planes rarely go down. That said, flying can be twice the cost.
7. Embrace chaos. The Mille Miglia is organized chaos from check-in to the finish line; that’s part of its charm. The Italians will insist that the directions are very clear and all spelled out — but all in Italian.
8. 1000 miles, 48 Hours … sleep 8. The Mille Miglia is not a luxury tour. It’s a 1,000 mile race from the north of Italy to Rome and back ? 40 towns in 48 hours. The event starts on Thursday evening in Brescia and ends there two days later on Saturday evening. Plan on arriving in your hotel after midnight, starved, and waking up before dawn. You’ll be completely exhausted.
9. Time trials. Find a co-pilot who can tell time and read a route book without being car sick. The modern Mille Miglia is a historic rally and not an all-out race from start to finish. There are approximately 40 timed sections that will require a sophisticated digital stopwatch. The top supplier is Digitech (digitechtiming.com). A good timing device will run $1,500 and they are happy to ship to the U.S. and Canada. The route book is in kilometers. Make sure your trip odometer is working well or install an auxiliary. Otherwise you may struggle. Even modest success on the time trials can raise your finish to top 100.
10. Don’t be a hero. It’s unlikely you will be stopped by the authorities because it’s Italy and this is the Mille Miglia. It’s hard to resist the allure of driving at top speed and at the edge of the old car’s limits, but you shouldn’t. Every year several competitors are involved in accidents and some have been serious. Enjoy the drive, take in the scenery and cheers of the crowds, drive sensibly and bring your car and co-pilot home safely!
The SPORTS / HAGERTY team competed at the 2010 Mille Miglia regularity race. 1000 miles in 48 hours from the north of Italy to Rome and back.
Car # 44 / Luciano Viaro (IT); Mark Gessler (US): 2ND PLACE!
Car # 350 / McKeel Hagerty (US); Angus Forsyth (UK)
Car #46 / Daniel Claramunt (AR); Manuel Eliçabe (AR)
Second place in the 2010 event went to Luciano Viaro and Mark Gessler in their Alfa Romeo 6C 1500. Luciano Viaro had previously won the event three times. The trip was documented through on-the-scene photos, Facebook posts and tweets. We’ve compiled the best to tell the story.