Not only was Denis Jenkinson not Stirling Moss’s first Mille Miglia co-driver, but Stirl’ wasn’t Jenks’s first Mille Miglia driver either. That honour fell to George Abecassis in 1954.
John Heath’s partner in HW Motors, Abecassis, an ex-Aston Martin sportscar racer, agreed to ‘show’ Jenks around in his potent HWM-Jaguar. They were flagged away at 6.13am the last of the 373 cars to start.
All went well until they reached Vicenza. Here a bad bump threw them wide on a corner and they smacked a kerb. Thereafter the car would wander along the straights at anything above 120mph. Despite this and the onset of heavy rain and a thick mist, they pressed on to the first major control, at Ravenna.
By this time the engine, unhappy at not running flat chat, had developed a misfire. This was traced to a problem with one of the Weber carburettors. The other problem, however, could not be fixed. That kerb had snapped the end off one of the telescopic shockers. Already 10 minutes behind their planned schedule after just 200 miles, they called it quits.