How is it like to win the Mille Miglia?
I asked Maurizio De Marco, winner (together with the late Luciano Viaro) of the 2005 edition of Mille Miglia, how does it feel…
I met Maurizio about 2 years ago when I visited his dealership in Trieste, drooling over the classsic cars he had for sale. One day, while flickering through his website, I found a section named “Competizioni” in which there were only two photos and a few lines. But it was enough to make me literally freeze in front of the monitor: “The arrival of the winners of the 2005 Mille Miglia: Viaro and De Marco driving the Alfa Romeo”. I couldn’t believe it. And it was in that precise moment I promised myself that one day I will write an article about this endeavour.
For the interview, Maurizio invited me at his showroom, Concinnitas. The first things which caught my eye (after the car and the bike parked at the entrance, of course) were the photos of that glorious Mille Miglia 2005 edition, hanging on the wall behind his office desk, images showing emotions only he could have known.
Luciano Viaro, who sadly passed away in 2011, was one of the greatest racers in regularity rallies, with 3 victories at the Mille Miglia in Italy, 3 at the Mille Miglia in Argentina and 3 at the Mille Miglia in Japan. Luciano was the founder of Digitech Timing, a leading company specialized in the construction of chronometric instruments for regularity races but he can also be considered a father of this discipline, because it’s thanks to people like him and his inventions that regularity is practiced in the way we know it today.
In the ’90s, Viaro and the Eng. Olivieri, in collaboration with the Alfa Romeo Museum, established the “Automobilismo Storico Alfa Romeo” racing team, which right from its conception and until 2008 has been the undisputed queen of regularity races. The friendship between Viaro and De Marco also brought the latter into the team in this period as well.
The car witch they participated with in the Mille Miglia was a 1928 Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 Super Sport, the same car that already won the race with the crew Campari-Ramponi in 1928 and it also triumphed at the Nuvolari Grand Prix in 2004. This model features Vittorio Jano’s legendary 1487cc in-line 6 pot engine, capable of delivering 76hp at 4800rpm coupled to a 4-speed manual gearbox, all mounted on a car that has a total weight of just 845kg in running order. The race took place over three days, following the classic route Brescia-Rome-Brescia. From a physical point of view, even the modern Mille Miglia is an exhausting enterprise, as the competitors have to race for aproximately 12 hours each day (including some night stages) driving veteran cars with limited if any regard for comfort and above all without any protection against the unleashed forces of nature.
“We started the race with rather low expectations” says Maurizio. “We never imagined we would find ourselves fighting for the win in a head to head ’till the end with two other teams”. The outcome of the race was still unsure until they reached the Modena time trials on the return leg of the circuit with the final destination set to Brescia. And it was right here in Modena that the victory materialized for the Alfa team, conquering it during the last 4 stages, surpassing the Sielecki-Hervas crew off Bugatti T23 Brescia by just 61 points! What made it even more exciting was that from Modena to Brescia, the Alfa Romeo of Viaro-De Marco, for very fortuitous reasons, found itself making the return journey along with the other two crews at the head of the race: Sielecki – Hervas’ Bugatti T23 and the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 of Sanchez-Zinny. Internet in those years was not as widespread as it is today, and only the Argentine Carlo Sielecki had the “super modern” mobile phone that allowed him to check the rankings updated in real time, so in this last part of race Sielecki was constantly communicating to the other two crews how the general classification was changing by the minute, as the official results of the last trials came out.
3 days, 1600km and 32 trials after the start Viaro and De Marco finally arrived in Brescia, welcomed like heroes. Waiting fom them, all lined up at the finish line : professional photographers, television crews, journalists and thousands of ecstatic spectators. It was the first victory for Alfa Romeo in this competition after 28 years of bad luck.
That year marked also the fiftieth anniversary of the victory of Sterling Moss with the Mercedes 300SLR in the original race. Moss himself was there in person but the unexpected victory of the Alfa caused so much excitement that the presence of Moss passed almost unobserved.
Maurizio says: «Winning the Mille Miglia doesn’t lead to any kind of economic gains, but it it rewards you with indescribable emotions and incredible moments you will carry with you for a lifetime, and all of this is absolutely priceless. »
If a certain Enzo Ferrari called Mille Miglia “the most beautiful race in the world”… he must have had his reasons.
Mille Miglia 2015 Race Classification:
- Viaro-De Marco (Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 SS 1928) 12.801 Points
- Sielecki-Hervas (Bugatti T23 Brescia 1923) 12.740 Points
- Sanchez-Zinny (Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS 1930) 11.293 Points