Mille Miglia, or the writing on the wall

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The Mille Miglia, one of the greatest road races on the calendar and the sole survivor of the old town-to-town, public road contests, was a truly homerie struggle this year. Germany showed the “writing on the wall” by arriving with the new coupe 300SL Mereedes-Benz some two months beforehand, covering the 1,000 miles of roads at least ten times, at a cost in fuel alone, the Daily Press emphasised, of some £2,000.

But not yet did this teutonic thoroughness pay 100 per cent dividends. Karl Kling set a fast pace and led nearly to the finish, after he had overtaken Bracco’s experimental light 2.7-litre V12 Ferrari coupe which was delayed with tyre trouble. Kling was hard-pressed by the 2,715-cc open Ferraris of Marzotto and Castelotti, then by Tarufli’s new 300 bhp GP-engined 41/2-litre Ferrari sports two-seater which blew up its transmission in the effort.

Kling was averaging nearly 93 mph in the wet, but team-mate Lang had left the road and retired and Caracciola’s Mercedes-Benz was held by Abecassis in a DB2 Aston-Martin until the British car’s clutch gave out.

Bracco was driving superbly meanwhile and was in the lead again at Bologna. More tyre trouble delayed him, but he repassed Kling, to lead the German by 1 min 40 sec at Modena, home of Ferrari, and win by 4 min 32 sec. All eyes now focus on Le Mans, where the thorough Mercedes-Benz team will again meet the weight of Ferrari opposition. In third place came the Lancia Aurelia of Fagioli, a stupendous effort by a veteran driver and in a car of the 2-litre Grand Touring class at that—ahead of so many near-racers ! It was a brilliant reflection of Bracco’s great second place in an Aurelia last year and should do Lancia a power of good commercially.

Moss drove the Type C Jaguar nearly into third place, but had to retire at the end with fuel tank leaks and steering trouble. Leslie Johnson was first Britisher home, a gallant seventh in a 4.1-litre prototype Nash-Healey. Tommy Wisdom in the 1951 DB2 won the big Grand Touring class for Aston-Martin, after Parnell had been delayed in his DB2 after hitting a milepost, and running out of fuel. Donald Healey had a narrow escape, his Healey bursting a tyre and wrecking itself on a bridge. In this fantastic race of 502 starters some retired and crashes took the lives of two Italian drivers in small Fiats, Grazzani and Avalle. Lancia Aurelias took fifth, sixth and eighth places, the 1900 Alfa-Romeos nothing higher than 17th place.

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