Brits Marques do not get often associated with the Mille Miglia. As a matter of fact, our friends from the Northern Isles never had the chance to score an overall victory at this legendary event in period: between 1927 and 1957, no cars coming from England ever climbed the top position of the podium. Class successes and encouraging finishes were indeed achieved, but for some reason, the Racing Green never conquered this legendary race. Jaguars, Astons and Healeys made the first appearances after the War, and they always suffered from the higher performance and reliability of Italian and German cars.
2018 marks 70 years since the first post-war victory of a British car, a Healey 2400 Westland, which was able to achieve a first-in-class finish and a 9th overall in the Touring class in 1948. Brits will be Brits, so allow us a small celebration of the famous Racing Green on Italian soil by following this year Mille with a snappy motorcar from Oxford, the Mini Countryman JCW.
With a role suitable for a fast support car for the teams tacking on one of the most important regularity races in the world, we happily given a help the media and technical efforts of the people behind the Mille.
While speed is not involved anymore, it is still a gruesome and difficult event. With the first cars departing each day (except the first, where the start is scheduled in the early afternoon) at 6.30 am and driving on slow B roads, it is not a race for the faint-hearted. Concentration, driving skills and impeccable technical preparation are essential in obtaining a great result.
Not that the Mille is slow either: regular rhythm requires sharp driving and quick reflexes. To keep up with the cars there we had to drive fast and through heavy traffic, pushing the Mini to its limits more than once. Scenic but demanding, the Mille has a strong appeal to everyone who has done it even once. Just like the TT at the Isle of Man, the Mille has the same kind of appeal, even if it is a completely different event. It puts a strain on yourself and tests your nerves, but in the end you always come back for more.
The British teams sure had it difficult, yet they kept coming back and participated until the last event held in 1957. Whether on a modern or on a classic British sportscar, the Mille always wore a racing green ribbon and this year we made a small effort to celebrate it.
Many thanks to Nanni Nember