by Mark Geessink
I admit… the last weeks of Februari were nerve-shattering. Would we be allowed to participate or not? Although I was fairly certain about my Alpine 106, which had already taken part in the Mille Miglia twice before, I had dared this time to enter two more cars of mine, which, admittedly, would be driven by friends. These were an Amilcar CGSS from 1927 and Salmson 2300 Sport from 1956. So, a French party. We were overwhelmed when we heard that all three cars had been accepted. But that’s where things really begin!
Everyone who thinks that the Mille Miglia is a luxury tour through Italy will be deceived. You really need to put your foot down those 4 days, from early in the morning until late at night. And all this in cars from before 1957 and which are often quite valuable. Not a tour for the faint hearted this year, because already during the first day it was raining cats and dogs. And I am not even mentioning the process of applying for this event, which takes many months.
Your Fiva card must be up to date, you have to work your way through all the red tape and on Thursday when arriving in Brescia, you have to wrestle through the organizational circus. Everything is rewritten again about five times and they send you from here to there again and again. The only thing you can do is to follow the instructions and just go with the flow, stay friendly, and of course it helps if you speak some Italian. That will really help you a lot, and luckily, thanks to my Italian wine imports, I speak a good word of Italian.
From Tuesday to Thursday the place to be is the Fiera in Brescia, where we are all come together. That is where we unload our cars and if you just let your eyes do the work, you will be stunned. The most eccentric, fantastic, original and rare classic automobiles can be seen there. Ready to been driven by their often equally exceptional drivers. A great way to meet and greet other enthusiasts and connoisseurs. The atmosphere is set by all those petrol heads, who only want one thing and that is to drive with their (sometimes quite valuable) classic or vintage car!
We always stay with our team at the restaurant Ca Noa in Brescia. Not that the rooms are so great, but because of the amazing Trattoria where even Pope John Paul frequently had supper. That is also Italy, beside the love for cars, the passion for wine and good food is decisive. Call it joie de vivre, because fine cars are a great combination with the culture of this country, its wines, pastas and the oh so friendly Italians. For me it is like coming home and enjoying, each year again.
Back to the start on Thursday. After having had a fine lunch at the Mille Milgia museum, the hour of truth was there. Edwin Lammertink, with number 40, was to start as the first of our gang in the Amilcar CGSS from 1927. We had put so many hours in this car for this Mille Miglia. A complete engine overhaul and almost and each part of the car had been extensively examined and fixed. We had been prepping for hours, days and weeks… The team on board of the CGSs with Edwin and Frank was dressed in style with period outfit. Let me add to this that their clothing would not keep them from getting wet. After a long and wet drive, they reached the first stop of the Mille Miglia in Rimini, soaked to the skin.
The road-book had changed into a kind of white porridge due to the heavy rain and was lying in every corner of the car. Anyway, the Amilcar had made it, though the magneto has given some trouble due to all the rain. Luckily we had a support team for such circumstances. Mike Kastrop and Frido Roetgerink were following us in the van of Lammertink, fully prepared for anything that could possibly happen…
Next up: more about this great adventure!