I was jolted out of bed somewhere between three and four this morning, when my bedroom began shaking violently from side to side. My first thought was “not again!” and my second was “I wish I hadn’t worn those sweatpants that are so old they are almost transparent to bed!” Just as I was about to put my shoes on, suddenly the tremor stopped and I breathed a sigh of relief. This was the kind of earthquake tremor that we had experienced here in
When I awoke again, I turned on my computer to discover much to my horror that the 6. 3 magnitude earthquake had not only struck near the Emilia Romagna town of
but that it had also killed at least three people. Apparently it is one of the
largest earthquakes that the region has ever faced and my thoughts are with the
victims and their families. Modena
As some of you may already be aware, the historic Mille Miglia automobile race passed through both
and Maranello yesterday and I decided to travel to the home of Ferrari for what
may be my last visit in a long time. As I reached my destination, I couldn’t
help but think about all of the things that Ferrari means to me and also what
my time living near Maranello has meant. Being able to keep a promise that I
made to myself when I was a little girl, even if that promise seemed to be a
little crazy has given me this wonderful sense of closure and also rekindled
the feeling inside me that anything is possible. Modena
In “My Terrible Joys” which is like a bible to tifosi like me, Ferrari continues to talk about the race with great fondness. He remembers funny stories such as the amusing incident when he observed Antonio Ascari’s mechanic, Sozzi, sweating profusely. Apparently Ascari had made him put pieces of led sheet in his pockets and shoes when he was found to be nine pounds under weight.
It seems as though Ferrari was even fond of some of the race’s strange regulations, such as one which forbid the use of horns. “Every mechanic carried with him a supply of hammers, bolts, old sparking plugs and other odds and ends that might be used as projectiles with which to signal to the driver in front- deafened by his engine- that he should make way for some one wishing to overtake him. Ah, those races of the heroic days of motoring.” He concluded.
Sadly for Ferrari, all of his memories of the event were not so pleasant. The Mille Miglia was banned in 1957 after two fatal crashes. The first crash involved Ferrari driver Alfonso de Portago and killed not only the driver and co-driver but also nine spectators, five of them children. Enzo Ferrari was blamed publically for the incident and although he was eventually cleared of charges that were lodged against him, it was a very difficult time for the Italian. Even after such tragedy, Ferrari’s support for the race and calls to have it reinstated continued.
In 1977, The Mille Miglia became the Mille Miglia Storica. Although its latest incarnation no longer showcases the latest technological advances or provides an arena for the world greatest drivers to do battle, the Mille Miglia still presents a challenge for both car and driver and is a fitting tribute to what was once one of the major events on the automotive calendar.
Enzo Ferrari was notorious for not wishing to look back but only to the future of his cars. In fact, he would often scrap old race cars after they had ceased to be of use to the team. I’m not sure what he would have thought of the modern-day Mille Miglia but for someone like me, who was not around for the dawn of motor racing, it is a unique opportunity to see historic cars being driven as they were intended to be, not collecting dust in a museum.
As the time for the arrival of the Mille Miglia approached, a crowd of fans congregated in front of the factory gates with cameras in hand. I heard many different languages and accents amongst them; there were the Germans, an elderly British couple and of course the ever-present tifosi. Some, I discovered, had been following the cars since they left
on Thursday. One
Italian man standing next to me explained that he follows the Mille Miglia every year and
hopes one day to be able to even participate. Brescia
After observing the Ferrari tribute parade of mostly modern Ferraris pass through the gates of Maranello for quite some time, suddenly the first historic cars appeared. These were cars that I have only ever seen stationary before or in books filled with black and white photos, so to observe them passing right before my eyes in full living colour brought a huge grin to my face. In addition to the cars, some of the drivers even sported classic racing goggles and other gear from an era long gone. One by one, the cars made their way passed the crowd, waving and taking various pictures of their own.
One especially interesting entry was a 1952 Jaguar C-Type which was piloted by none other than Williams Grand Prix Engineering’s Patrick Head. He appeared to be enjoying the attention as his entry passed by where I was standing and the crowd gave him a big cheer as he was recognised. Stirling Moss fans may recognise this particular Jaguar as the car that the legendary driver used in the 1952 Mille Miglia. In fact, sixty years later, Sir Stirling Moss and former Jaguar chief development engineer, Norman Dewis, were reunited once more and drove the car during the race's first leg in Brescia. At the ages of 82 and 91 years old, the pair showed that their passion is as strong as ever.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief and assumed position on the left side; I wanted to see Maranello one more time. As the sun set, the bus took an unusual route through the town. It wound its way behind the Ferrari factory where employees usually enter the complex, it passed by people carrying Ferrari banners as the remaining Mille Miglia Storica cars arrived and it drove up the hill that overlooks the Fiorano circuit.
As I looked out the window at the miniature cars circulating around the track below, I felt a huge sense of gratitude for everything that I have experienced because of Ferrari. Without a doubt I was sad to leave once again, but I know in my heart that I will be back one day.