Rally Diary Day 0: How To Enter The Mille Miglia For Free, Or Close To It
Sex! Drugs! Scandal! I’ve decided to look for it on the Mille Miglia. Why? To find out if the automotive 1% are any better behaved than the criminals, scoundrels and liars I count as friends. By friends I mean the automotive 2%, the Gumball/Cannonball/street racing crowd from which my career was spawned.
Is the Miglia crowd really any better than the rest of us? Can I penetrate it for less than $1M? How about $5k?
That’s what I’m here to find out.
What is the Mille Miglia? It’s the granddaddy of Italian car races, suspended in 1957 after a group of spectators were killed. It was reborn in 1977 as a “regularity” race, which means...very little. What was once a race is now a rally, which means it’s not a race.
“That’s a bunch of horseshit,” said Mr. Femnemo, which is an acronym for Former-Editor-of-a-Major-NorthEastern-Media-Outlet. “These people are driving like fucking maniacs.”
Sounds like the Gumball, a rally which was never a race, on which many (but not all) drive like fucking maniacs. Trust me, I’ve done five.
The whole race vs. rally discussion is a waste of time, splitting hairs by people who want to hide behind a word while racing on public roads. The 1976 Gumball Rally movie was about an illegal race, and ever since the word “race” and “rally” have become largely interchangeable.
What’s a rally? Legally/technically, it’s an untimed drive on public roads, with time trials over closed sections. The transit sections, meaning the majority of the event, take place mixed in with civilian traffic, which means the likelihood of accidents is high.
“A lot of accidents get covered up,” said another driver. “We saw a bad accident last year that never made it into the news. A car flipped on its roof. The guy had to have died. Something like that happens almost every year.”
Does that sound like the Gumball? Gumball had two fatalities back in 2007. The Mille Miglia? Somewhere between one and five, depending whom you ask, and that’s just in the last few years.
“Of course it’s dangerous,” said another Miglia driver, “especially those fucking assholes in the 300SLs.”
I’ve been hearing this over and over. They were talking about the vaunted, legendary, gorgeous 1954-1957 Mercedes 300SL, the model in which Stirling Moss won back in the day, cars worth bewteen $1.3 and $1.5M.
“They bring their own paramedics,” said yet another Miglia driver about the 300SL teams, “they have to.”
“The organizers assign them to them,” said his teammate.
“I hear some of them bring their own doctors,” said yet another.
Was any of this true? I had to find some Mercedes drivers, but first I had to get my credentials sorted. I was not yet an official entry, or was I?
There are two ways to “enter” the Mille Miglia:
Option 1: Pay The Entry Fee
There is only one reason to pay the (approximately) $16k fee. You own a car that participated in the original and you want official race stickers. If you own an eligible car and can afford to maintain it, you probably want to do this. Also, you won’t care, because eligible cars run from $400k to $20M and above. $16k? That’s a fraction of your annual maintenance, insurance and storage for things like this:
Guess what? I’ve done countless races and rallies, costing from $0 to $80k per event, and the higher the entry fee, the worse the party.
You want sex, drugs and awesome car action? Don’t pay. Crash, like the dozens (or hundreds, based on rumors) of Alfas, Fiats, Saabs and Porsches that will be tagging along with the Miglia, all of whom are doing so for a total cost of....gas and motel money.
I almost forgot. Print up your own stickers, and 99% of fans won’t know you aren’t in the event. At least that’s what I’ve been hearing around Brescia.
According to several college-aged Miglia drivers I met last night in the Hotel Vittoria lobby last night, you don’t even need a car. All you need is a Miglia badge, or something that looks like one. A short walk to a local bar called Estrella, and you’ll be taking home a gorgeous 25 year old Italian. If only you weren’t sharing a room with your dad, and all the hotels in Brescia weren’t sold out.
You want to feel more official?
Options 2: Get A Press Pass For Free
I don’t own an eligible car, nor can I afford one, but who cares? Ask anyone in Italy - and I mean literally anyone - and they will tell you that the Miglia is a horribly run organization. Ask the hotel maid, the doorman, the streetcleaner, or the homeless girl with the dog on the Piazza Duomo under the MIlle Miglia banner, they all agree.
Just a horrible organization. Nice people? They won’t even say that. The Miglia event used to be outsourced to private contractors, but ever since it was taken over by the Municipality of Brescia several years ago, “it’s gone to shit,” according to the drunk Scotsmen in the street in front of the press office.
How convenient, because that’s exactly where I needed to get a press pass. Where there’s a shit organization, there’s always a press pass to be had for free. Quickly. Easily. And without documentation.
Try getting a press pass out of the FIA for a F1 race. Go on. Try it. It’s like trying to get a signed pardon from the Gestapo. Organization? Thy name is F1. Unless you’re Max Moseley.
The Mille Miglia? I signed up online. I showed up in Brescia. I arrived days early. I happened to meet some of the Miglia staff girls the night before the office opened. Not that it mattered, because when the Press Office opened, I and my team were the second group at the counter.
I didn’t even have to show ID.
Three minutes later I had a press pass. Better yet, a "TV" pass, which meant I had "better" access than the drivers, according to the adorable girl in charge.
What I had access to remained to be seen, because I still didn't have a car.
The Mille Miglia starts on Thursday, May 19th at 1430hr local time in Brescia, Italy. I’ll post updates until I finish Sunday night, or am found in an Italian ditch, depending on connectivity and the availability of medical services.