Sir Stirling Moss
Sir Stirling Moss
23rd Mille Miglia Storica from 19th - 22nd May, 2005
20th May, 2005
Back in 1955 when Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson – the British team within the Mercedes-Benz racing stable – lined up at the start in the 300 SLR with start number 722 (corresponding to start time 7.22 p.m.) in the north Italian town of Brescia, nobody would have thought that this number would acquire a legendary status. Ten hours, seven minutes and 48 seconds later, the car crossed the finishing line in Brescia, having covered 1,600 kilometers at an average speed of 157.650 km/h (97.96 mph) – a sensational record time that has remained unbroken to this day and earned the team a fixed place among the all-time Mille Miglia best.
The victory was attributable not only to the perfect harmony between the two Englishmen, the great technical competence of the Mercedes-Benz racing team and the reliability of the 300 SLR but also to an ingenious idea of navigator Denis Jenkinson who had invented the prototype of all future road books. During the tests, Jenkinson had noted down all the important details of the route on three long strips of paper for each leg: the tightest corners, level crossings, dangerous hilltops, easily overlooked bypasses, etc. – plus the maximum possible speeds at these individual points. In this way, the navigator was able to warn his driver, Stirling Moss, when approaching one of the critical spots, by means of hand-signs the two had agreed prior to the race.
Two things, which are unique in the history of this race, will enhance the scenario of technical scrutineering in Piazza Vittoria and the start of the 23rd Mille Miglia Storica. First of all, the fastest racing transporter in its day and age, with a special aerodynamically styled driver’s cab, will take the original 300 SLR with start number 722 from Stuttgart to Brescia, and secondly, Stirling Moss will drive his famous 722 off the start ramp – half a century after his legendary victory and record. This time, Moss will team up with his colleague Jochen Mass as Denis Jenkinson died five years ago.
When the starter's flag sends off the 300 SLR from 1955 with the Moss/Mass team from the start ramp, the unmistakable sound of the eight-cylinder engine will send shivers down the spectators’ spines. At that moment, the legend of the Mille Miglia will come alive again, arousing great emotions among the thousands of fans.
The first automotive race on the route Brescia - Cremona - Mantua - Brescia was staged on 10th September, 1899, but the real Mille Miglia goes back to the year 1927. Until then, a small circle of enthusiastic motorists had been competing in a long-distance race in the area of Brescia. They eventually opted for a longer route and divided the race into three, successively longer legs; the turning point for the total distance of 1,000 miles was to be Rome. Since 1930, the name Mercedes-Benz has also been inseparably linked with this famous racing spectacle. In that year, Rudolf Caracciola finished in sixth place at the wheel of an SSK. Only one year later, in 1931, he clinched the first overall victory for Mercedes-Benz, driving an SSKL and being cheered on enthusiastically by many fans.
After World War II, the Kling/Klenk and Caracciola/Kurrle teams finished in second and fourth place, respectively, in the overall rankings of the 1952 Mille Miglia, driving prototypes of the 300 SL. And, as is well known, the Moss/Jenkinson team, driving a 300 SLR, established a new record in 1955. In the same year, Juan Manuel Fangio, equally driving a 300 SLR, finished as runner-up even though he had to do without a navigator throughout the race. And that was still not all: the American/German pairing Fitch/Gesell (300 SL) clinched victory in the GT category above 1.6 litres, and the Retter/Larcher team (180 D) for the first time drove a Mercedes-Benz passenger car to victory in the diesel category.
The last Mille Miglia in its original form – as a timed long-distance race – was staged in 1957. Twenty years later, in 1977, the race was revived in the form of a classic car competition – though as a regularity trial rather than a proper race. In this new format too, the teams continued the success story of the Mercedes-Benz brand. In 1986, the Schildbach/Netzer team clinched overall victory with a 1929 SSK. Italian driver Valseriati clinched two overall Mercedes victories, driving a 300 SL from 1955 with navigator Favero in 1989, and a 300 SL prototype from 1952 with navigator Sabadini in 1997.
Even though the teams in their elderly legends on wheels complete the traditional stages of the Mille Miglia much more peacefully these days – stages on which fierce battles for victory were fought in the old days – the racing cars of years gone by still conjure up the overwhelming fascination of the tough races of yesteryear. The unfading thrill is attributable first and foremost to the fact that the cars stand for the outstanding technical competence in their day. And with this aura, each individual car, be it powerpack or noble lightweight, renders its contribution to the exceptional legend of the Mille Miglia.
The German/American group is taking part in the 2005 Mille Miglia with 35 vintage cars, of which 33 Mercedes Benz: four 720 SSK, two 680 S, one 180 D and one 220 a, plus 25 units of the 300 SLR and 300 SL.
For the second time Chrysler will be present at the starting line with two vintage cars from the Museum in Aubrun Hills: a 1930 Chrysler Model 77 roadster and a 1951 Chrysler Saratoga. The 77 roadster is the lineal discendent of the remarkable car that Walter P. Chrysler introduced under his name in 1924.
Chrysler took part in the 1929 and 1930 Mille Miglia.
The growing popularity of the Mille Miglia is reflected, among other things, by the growing number of applications year after year. As many as 780 teams applied for participation in the 2005 race. The number of participants is, however, limited to 375 cars. This year, teams from 22 countries and 6 continents will line up, among them teams from Argentina, Australia, Colombia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States of America.
Italy, the hosting country, provides the largest contingent with 146 cars, followed by Germany (with 76 cars), the United States (36), the UK (28), Switzerland (21), Japan (12) and the Netherlands (12). The “rolling motor sport museum” will show up in Brescia with 55 legendary brands, among them brands as rare as Alvis, Amilcar, Bizzarini, Bottega, Ermini, Moretti, Roselli, Squire and Stanga. The most strongly represented brand will be Alfa Romeo (with 37 cars), followed by Ferrari (35), Mercedes-Benz (33), Lancia and Porsche (25 each), Bugatti (23) and BMW (21).
Each year, large crowds of enthusiastic classic car racing fans set out in the direction of Brescia for the Mille Miglia weekend. It begins on the Thursday before the race, with the ritual of registration and the technical scrutineering of all participating classic racing cars in Piazza Vittoria from 9.30 a.m. until 6 p.m., a procedure that captivates the spectators time and again. Nowhere else is the original atmosphere of the race as tangible and the scenario as intriguing. And nowhere else do you meet as many personalities from the world of classic motor sport then and now as in the cafés on the ancient Piazza Vittoria. The Mille, as it is affectionately called, is therefore simply a must for every classic car race fan.
This year too, a respectful silence will fall upon the scene when the first engines will be started in Viale Venezia shortly before 8 p.m. and the thundering sounds are echoed by the old city walls to announce that the 2005 Mille Miglia is on.
By tradition, the Mille Miglia consists of three legs. Both the programme and the route correspond to those of the original races of bygone years. With a total length of 1,259.48 kilometers, this year’s three legs will be 213 kilometers shorter than last year, but then the route will have a surprising lap through the town in store, from the start in Viale Venezia, first leading up to Piazzale Arnaldo and the Cidneo, the fortress high above the town. The convoy will then drive down Via San Faustino, across Piazza della Loggia, Piazza Paolo VI, Corso Zanardelli, Piazzale Arnaldo and past the recently opened Museo della Mille Miglia. Then the convoy will leave the town behind and continue via Desenzano, Bussolengo and Verona to Ferrara.
<>The second novelty will await the participants at the end of the first stage. Behind Ostiglia, the route will wind its way to Occhiobello and Pontelagoscuro, crossing the Strada Statale from Rovigo and approaching Ferrara from the north, along Viale Cavour and Corso Martiri della Libertà to Piazza Trento e Trieste.
The third novelty will be encountered on the route from Spoleto to Rome on the Statale Norcia-Cascia; this year, the route will run via S. Anatolia di Narco, Gavelli, Leonessa and Rondo di Terminillo in the direction of Rieti. From here on, and as in the past, the route will lead along the Via Salaria to the center of Rome.
The fourth novelty will be waiting on the stretch of road behind the section from Siena to Florence. The convoy will initially follow the traditional route on Apennine pass roads, across the 903 meter high Passo della Futa, via Poggibonsi and on in the direction of Bologna. Then the convoy will be directed along Viale dei Martiri della Libertà in Modena to a museum in honor of the great Italian racing driver Tazio Nuvolari.
And finally, another novelty is scheduled for the end of the event. After the traditional winners’ ceremony at the Auditorium San Barnaba in Corso Magenta on the Sunday, the participants will be bid farewell this year with a great festive lunch in the stylish setting of the recently opened Museo della Mille Miglia in Sant’Eufemia.
Thursday, May 19, 2005: 1st leg
The three stages of the 23rd Mille Miglia Storica
In keeping with tradition, the route of the 23rd Mille Miglia Storica will again include three stages:
1st stage (177.66 km):
Brescia - Verona -
Ostiglia - Occhiobello – Pontelagoscuro – Ferrara
2nd stage (528.17 km):
the convoy follows the road to Canavaccio and Calmazzo and crosses the Passo
del Furlo (/) and the Gola del Furlo and
subsequently passes through the town of
Rieti, the second stage draws to a close. The cars first continue on the S.S. 4
Salaria, then, from Maglianello Bassa, on the Raccordo S.S. 4 and back on the
S.S. Salaria to
3rd stage (653.65 km):
through a number of towns, the participants now tackle the mountains, crossing
first the 903 meter high Passo del Futa (3.29 p.m./5.34 p.m.) and then the 960
meter high Passo della Raticosa (3.46 p.m./5.51 p.m.) before driving through
Monghidoro (3.57 p.m./6.01 p.m.) and on to the Piazza del Nettuno in Bologna
(4.55 p.m./6.59 p.m.). The next destination is Viale Martiri della Libertà in
the Mille Miglia sets out on the final 170-kilometer-long leg to
Mercedes-Benz advertisement from 1955