Swap For Sweep/ Mille Miglia, Italy / 28 April 1940
After temporary suspension due to a rash of accidents in 1938, the Mille Miglia was brought back to life in 1940. With a new triangular course between Brescia, Cremona and Mantua and a new name – the 1st Gran Premio Brescia delle Mille Miglia – all eyes were on Italy that spring and BMW made it their mission to win the race.
Three 328 roadsters and two coupes entered the race and by the end of the first lap, one of the two coupes was way ahead of his closest competitor. The driver was no other than Fritz Huschke von Hanstein, an official driver entered by the SS and ordered to take home the trophy. Adolf Hühnlein – head of the NS Motor Corps – asked co-driver, Walter Bäumer, to remain on the passenger seat in order to avoid taking any risk by a driver change.
Throughout the course of the race von Hanstein steadily increased the lead and decided to ignore his orders. 30 km before the end he stopped the car and switched seats with Bäumer who then drove the Touring Coupe across the finish line to claim overall victory with an impressive 15 minutes gap to the second place finisher. The remaining BMWs finished in third, fifth and sixth place.
BMW, to this day, considers their triumph at Mille Miglia its greatest auto racing success.
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