I have been an avid follower of the Mille Miglia for over a decade, with a bucket list dream to be there and experience the spectacle of the cars as they were being prepared to leave the start line for the four-day return journey from Brescia to Rome and back to Brescia. This year I was invited by the owner of an original Porsche 550 Spyder to co-drive with him in his maiden Mille Miglia race. The thought of being in command of a freshly restored €4 million pocket-rocket with an aluminium body, quad-cam engine and synchro gear box, unleashed on the open roads of Italy, made me a tad nervous.
Known as the ‘most beautiful race in the world’, the Mille Miglia is steeped in tradition. This was a race, in which Hans Herrmann and Herbert Linge driving a Porsche 550 Spyder, recorded a time of 12 hours, 35 minutes and 44 seconds at an average speed of 127 km/h (79 mph) to finish first in class in 1954. Such speeds, though, are a thing of the past with the modern day Mille Miglia now being a regularity race based on time-speed-distance. To qualify for race entry, cars need to be a model that partook in the original race between 1927 and 1957, and with nearly double the entries than positions accepted, we were fortunate to secure one of the 430 spots on offer.