About two month ago I was asked by Mercedes-Benz Classic and the Mercedes-Benz Museum if I was interested in joining the Mille Miglia this year. For those wo don’t know the Mille Miglia, it started as a open road endurance race in 1927. After some time and some fatal crashes and so many drastic changes in the modern time the Mille Miglia change from a race to a rally. A lot people say that it’s “just” a show drive, but from just this experience I can positively say it ain’t entirely so. At least not for the majority or drivers, but I will get to that a bit later.
You basically drive from the town of Brescia to Ferrara to Rome and back to Brescia in three days. Pass through some of the most beautiful cities like Siena, Florence and even San Marino. Obviously there are a few more stops in between, especially for specially timed sections and so on. A lot of drivers and co-drivers train all year to get that part spot on and drive their cars to the hundreds of a second exactly and clock in as perfectly as they can.
You normally don’t get a lot of sleep, drive a lot and just see some crazy cool stuff, paired with the beauty of the italian roads, cities and villages you pass through. The food was great, the people you meet are all very excited to be there, most because of their love for driving their fantastic cars in this historical event, others more because they love to be seen in their cars attending the Mille. And both have a place there.
So my journey started a few weeks before the main event and I went down to Stuttgart to join the Mercedes-Benz team and some of the drivers that were going to drive in the classic Mercs. Basically a little orientation and getting used to the cars program for the Mercedes-Benz drivers, which were a mix of private drivers, invited guests and some testimonials. On that day we were a small group, but it was a nice warming up event, even for me. The weather had decided to not play nice, though it was a great preparation for things to come. We spent a few hours at MB HQ before taking the cars out on the open road. There it struck me for the first time… we are taking these cars that easily cost in the higher six figure range onto the rainy open road and not only around the block. Not really a problem, but for many many years I encountered “car people” and collectors that treat the cars mostly better than anything else in their life and not even take out their cars in light rain or when the streets are wet. So this was a very refreshing surprise. The day was over quite quickly though and I went back to home the same day.
A few weeks later, same trip to Stuttgart and a car full of equipment. Another night spent in Stuttgart, but this time me and my contact at the MB Museum met up at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre and checked out one of the trucks that was loaded with a bunch of the cars for the Mille Miglia. The driver kindly waited for me to get a glimpse and some shots before he left for Brescia. On top of that I got a little tour of the place and some alone time. You could literally spend days in that place and shoot and shoot and shoot. Some day I just might. The next morning we grabbed the R-Class a hit the Autobahn towards Austria and Italy.
A few hours later we arrived in Brescia in the best weather imaginable to meet the rest of the team. The trucks with the cars for the rally weren’t due till tomorrow, so we had some time to relax and I could get my gear organised a little. At this point you could start to feel something shift. Not sure if it was the tension, excitement or something, but it was in the air. The night went past quite quickly and I was extremely excited to check out the arrival of the cars at the Brescia Convention Center and to see all the other beauties that were arriving and already waiting there.
For now I will let the photos speak and add more in one of the next posts. Take your time and enjoy!