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The ULTIMATE Bentley Road Trip: We Drove The 2019 Mille Miglia | Carfection

The Mille Miglia is the world's most beautiful race and this year, we took part with Bentley. In a Bentley Blower.
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Italy is a stunning place. Its scenery is remarkable, its history is unrivaled and its food is positively epic. It also happens to be the birthplace of many of the world's greatest motoring brands.

Despite all that, it isn't exactly my favorite place to drive. The relaxed Italian attitude toward the rules of the road is an acquired taste for even the most stalwart of visiting drivers, while frequent traffic snarls and congestion block and impede some otherwise epic roads. And then there are the roads themselves. Italy is festooned with mountaintop citadels and other remote villages that create the kind of Instagram memories all your friends will heart with abandon, but few enjoy navigating the single-lane, mirror-scraping alleyways that access them.

Italy, then, might not seem like a questionable place for a cross-country race covering more than 1,000 miles of those often-congested, frequently narrow roads. But it is the only place in the world where something like the Mille Miglia could happen, an event that combines that Italian scenery with the history and even the food, plus the appreciation for not just the Italian motoring brands, but some of the greatest cars the world has to offer.

The Mille Miglia is an incredibly special thing, and this is what it's like to run it.

The Mille Miglia was first run in 1927. Its name (literally "1,000 miles") tells you the most important detail about the event. It was initially a point-to-point race covering 1,000 miles of Italian roads, run at speed and contested by many of the world's greatest drivers piloting the world's fastest machines.

Given the distance, it was impossible to police or shut down the entire route, so as the drivers blazed out of Brescia, hitting checkpoints in the south before swinging back north again for the finale, they had to contend with local traffic, pedestrians and even wayward farm animals.

Those open roads meant plenty of danger, and 30 years later, in 1957, a pair of fatal accidents meant the end of the classic Mille Miglia. The organizers tried to bring it back as a limited-speed procession, but that quickly lost steam.

The race went dormant until 1977, when it was reborn as a historic rally, open only to cars eligible to compete in the original Mille Miglia. That is, basically, machines produced before 1957. No longer would entrants be encouraged to go as fast as they liked; now the race would be run as a regulation rally, or a time-speed-distance rally, where competitors aren't challenged to get from A to B as quickly as possible. Rather, the goal is to drive as precisely as possible, with target times for arrival and penalties for showing up either early or late.

Since 1977, the race has increased in prominence. Today, it is the most prestigious historic rally in the world, with competitors spending tens of thousands of dollars in entry fees and preparation costs just to be in one of the 430 cars accepted to run.

Credits Carfection
added on 9 Oct. 2019

Make: Bentley


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