The first Mille Miglia
The day finally arrived: March 26,1927: «No one has forgotten the triumphant debut of the Mille Miglia. - recalls Canestrini - the 77 cars that left Brescia6 encountered a crowd of enthusiastic people lined on either side of the street, cheering for the entire 1600 km. Not one stretch of the road was left unmonitored, not one act of indiscipline, not one accident. Thirty thousand military troops, numerous sportsmen, with a moving passion and self-sacrifice, had made this miracle of organization possible, pride that constitutes one of the expressions of the new spirit that cheers on the Italian people. The other miracle came from the technical race results and from the sweeping spirit of all the participants».
The surprising thing wasn't just the time (21 hours, 4 minutes and 48 seconds) by the winners, Minoja e Morandi, on their O.M. 665 S, but more that of the winner of the by now famous class H. With a Peugeot 5 HP Mille Miglia type, of only 747 c.c., Cazzulani and Monferroni returned to Brescia in only 33 hours 51 minutes and 33 seconds: a time that, according to some journals, shouldn't even have been awarded to the overall winners.
The importance of the feat, its social significance and the race's success received unprecedented tribute by the press. Corriere della Sera wrote: «A little under twenty hours, not even one day and one night to complete almost 1700 km: an average of over 77 km per hour. The car paraded through the streets of half of Italy as dominator of time and space. The success of the mechanical body is fantastic». The Mille Miglia had opened up new frontiers and a new era.
Ada Negri, famous poetesse, wrote about "the XX Century": «Among modern pleasures, there is not one that surmounts or equals that of traveling by car. In our own car, and abiding by our rules only, taking us to where our whim fancies, the need for freedom as it is known to us provides that sense of fullness and evasion, a possession of time and space that transcends human limits».
And Alfredo Giarratana, from the pages of "Il popolo di Brescia", blasted out: «Now that the Mille Miglia has been considered an indisputed triumph by all the Italian media, who, except for rare occasions, waited until Sunday7 to celebrate this demonstration of audacity and force, it is reasonable to say that we have done something to make this happen, slightly spoiling the merits of the latest of the newcomers (...)
Turati signaled the start of the race. The O.M. manufacturing company won with Minoia8 and Morandi. A Brescian triumph, from start to finish, and it must remain as such».
A few days later, Turati reported back to il Duce; Mussolini sensed what an extraordinary means of spreading propaganda the Mille Miglia would have come to represent for the country. He therefore sent a sheet to the NFP Leader addressed to the organizers of the Mille Miglia. Under the glitzy letter heading were just three words, like a tombstone: «Do it again»!
6 Of the 101 teams registered, 24 were no-shows.
7 The exception to which Giarratana makes reference was represented by the Gazetta dello sport; The Sunday mentioned is March 27, the day the race ended.
8 Giarratana, as a Fascist observer, writes Minoia and not Minoja, because the "j" could not be used, since it doesn't belong to the Italian alphabet.