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on Tue, 11/22/2016 - 22:39

By David Martin   01585

The Mille was spectacular and beyond expectation and an incredible amount of fun. Can you imagine driving as fast as you can, running all red lights, driving on the sidewalks and racing the police, all to the encouragement of about every Italian in the country

 Oh and the parties.I first got interested in the Mille when in 2015 I visited Brescia the day of the start of the race.  There were about 80,000 people drinking beer on a hot afternoon in a medieval city then 400 classic race cars wove thru the town with zero crowd control. I knew then I had to enter. I contacted fellow Checkered Flag member David Sydorick who advised and got me in contact with Londoner, Alfa expert Peter Marshall. On my way home thru London I purchased my Alfa from JD Classics and started the preparation for this years raceThe car is an Alfa Romeo 1900 Carrozzeria Touring Sprint Superleggera. This type of car was raced in the Mille Miglia first by Juan Manuel Fangio and then other racing luminaries up until 1957.  In its class it was quite competitive. My specific car was originally delivered to a resident in Terni, went to Rome, Germany and finally England. It completed the Mille in 2015, and now of course 2016. Something you all would be interested in- the cars must remain stock but modifications to the cooling system are allowed . The 400 or so entrants often get bunched up in the numerous small Italian Hill towns and overheating is a real problem. My car has an alternator ,aluminum radiator and electric fan. Everything else is standard 1953.

This year’s 1000 mile race was from May 19th thru May 22nd and traveled thru Brescia, Ravenna ,Rimini, Rome, Siena, Florence, Bologna, Parma and then back to Brescia. I always wondered why they call it a race rather than a rally - after completing it, it walks and talks like a race. My navigator, niece Stephanie Martin and I were in the car for about 12 hours a day for four days. Our strategy was to win so we were focused on navigation and driving for 4 intense days. Stopped little, ate little just staying on the course. As beginners we made a few mistakes on the first day and were trying to catch up the rest of the event. We finished in the top half and were in the top ten of the American group and what fun.

We brought along quite an entourage of family and friends. We had a chase vehicle full of photographers, writers and friends. We adopted Carl Magnussen and his fabulous Abarth into “Martin Racing” and met several other terrific entrants along the way.

There are several sections of the event that are very hectic with heavy traffic, police escorts etc.that bog you down while you are trying to maintain specific average speeds. however the most memorable aspects are two.

Flying thru the back roads of Tuscany in a string of classic thoroughbred cars sliding away on their skinny tires, struggling with bad brakes all while making wonderful roaring noises and, processing into the many many piazza's driving up the stand in front of the cathedral and the mayor screams into the microphone Welcome David Martin and Stephanie Martin.      Alfa Romeo Carrozzeria Touring Superleggeria. and the crowd yells “Bellissimo, Bellissimo"

I’ve done my share of off road racing, I am a cresta rider (luge), I’ve sailed many oceans,      raced a lot of motorcycles.

This just might be the best yet.

 David Martin