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WG Ellegi’s 1000 Miglia was unforgettable

Oct 4, 2022 | Communications

A story told by our CEO Luca Polini

In June, WG Ellegi lived a dream.

One that is not easily forgotten. Better still, one that you just never forget! Before I tell you about it, I would like to make a small parenthesis. Just to create a little suspense.

We are lucky, there is little to do

Italy is the most beautiful country in the world, no story about it. Of course, this is my personal opinion and you will certainly say that yours is the most beautiful. Some will tell you that this is not true, that there are more fascinating places to visit, territories with incredible landscapes to discover that will leave you breathless and which you will remember forever. But you know what? Maybe they only tell you this because they have never walked through the streets of Rome admiring the Colosseum, strolled through the vineyards of Piedmont or the hilly areas of Tuscany. They have certainly never seen the crystal-clear water in Sardinia, the walls of medieval villages and the cities of art with restaurants on every corner where you can sample gastronomic excellence with the most inviting flavours.

We are lucky, because we Italians live in a country surrounded by beauty but, alas, we sometimes forget it. We are human, it is normal. It isn’t always easy to realise the wonder you are surrounded by when you see it every single day and often you have to leave to really appreciate it fully. One needs to take a train, a plane or a highway to see other worlds, explore new places and cultures… When you return, you cannot help but be thankful for the great beauty that has always been at your fingertips and that surrounds you.

Believe me, Italy is the most beautiful country in the world and everyone deserves to visit it at least once in their life. Especially in the period when the historic 1000 Miglia takes place!

The world’s most beautiful race

A small parenthesis for those who may not be acquainted with it. It’s a staged competition for classic cars that sees its competitors cover the Brescia-Rome-Brescia route over four days.

Ever since my brother and I were children, I remember that this race has always bonded us and made us more connected. We are from Bergamo, needless to say! In northern Italy, especially in the Bergamo area, the passion for cars and engines burns in the hearts of every child and, as time goes by, it gets bigger and bigger and we experience indescribable emotions. It was Dad and Uncle Franco who took us to see the first 1000 Miglia. I remember that day well, we were just two kids when before our very eyes we saw the most beautiful vintage cars in the world and we fell in love with them. I always told myself that sooner or later I would have the opportunity to take part in the competition and make my family proud.

A dream that becomes reality!

Summer brings with it a competitive spirit and ambition is always sky-high. Everyone tries to do their best and do something important that will be remembered in time, that expresses the values they believe in to the fullest. I am part of those people too, I know that now. Until last year, I used to get excited at the idea of going to Piazza della Vittoria in Brescia and watching the classic cars set off for the most beautiful race in the world. Every time, I used to tell myself, ‘Come on. Next year you’ll be among all those people!”.

So when my friend Joe jokingly asked me to take part in the 40th edition together, I didn’t let him tell me twice and I took the plunge. Joe, what a great friend! You should meet him, he’s a character! He is a very dear friend of ours from Thailand, a true motoring enthusiast who would talk to you about it for hours. If it wasn’t for him I might still be dreaming about this moment, but now I can tell you with the utmost sincerity…

From a simple joke, everything kicked off like a hurricane

As soon as Uncle Franco heard that Joe and I wanted to participate in the race, he immediately joined us, braver and more enthusiastic than ever! He seemed like he had been preparing for this moment his whole life, and he cracked us up when he showed up with super gadgets for everyone. He gave us briefcases in the colour of our car with all sorts of things inside that he thought, you never know, might come in handy during the race. A ruler, a pencil, a sharpener and some tape, the classic tools that everyone should always have with them when going on a long trip in a classic car!

He was amazing, his precise and thorough preparation made us feel safe and ready to go because we knew we had a great resource at our side with a briefcase full of original ideas at hand.

First step: registrations

Who would have thought that registering would be so difficult. You have to pass a thorough selection process to be able to participate! You should know that applications come in from all over the world, there are many people who dream of this experience and who send in their applications every year. I won’t bore you with all the details, just know that we managed to register and we were over the moon!

There were 415 cars that started on 15 June, and we were among them. That is all that matters.

Joe and I with our JAGUAR XK 140 OTS SE and Uncle Franco with his LANCIA AURELIA B24 SPIDER ‘AMERICA’!

Day one, first stage

On 15 June we headed for Lake Garda, first Salò, then Desenzano and Sirmione. Then Mantua, Ferrara, Cervia and Milano Marittima, where the first day of the race ended. We arrived at our destination around two o’clock in the morning, tired, hot, but satisfied.

Day two, second stage

The second day was the most challenging.

Uncle’s car stopped working properly and he had to send it to Milan to be repaired… luckily they brought it back in time! I, on the other hand, had a problem with the petrol pump. Major trouble, believe me. Especially when you’re in the middle of nowhere and the phone doesn’t pick up and it takes you two hours to find a place with reception just to call a mechanic and get him to give you a hand. Here Franco’s briefcase full of gadgets wasn’t much help, I have to say. And the heat… Boy, that heat made us suffer like hell. From Milano Marittima we made a diversion to Forlì, then on to San Marino, Passignano sul Trasimeno and Norcia; we drove under an unbearable sun that even took away our hunger, but not our thirst. Just think that by late morning we had drunk no less than four litres of water! But then we arrived at the Roman footbridge of Via Veneto… it was breathtaking. We were tired, but as happy as ever.

But perhaps that is what makes the 1000 Miglia unique: not everyone makes it to the end. You have to work hard and put in the effort to prove that you deserve the finish line. And we wanted it so much that everything else fell by the wayside. Our only goal was to finish the race.

Day three, third stage, new adventures

The 1000 Miglia is a race full of crazy people and all sorts of things happen. Add to that the fact that when you’re driving you feel like you’re flying, but in reality you’re going 90 mph, because that’s all your classic car can do. But you still feel like a hero and you keep telling your co-pilot that you have wings and he is standing by and laughing with you.

That’s what Joe was: an incredible travelling companion who made everything easy. He was great, thanks to him we never took a wrong turn and we had the opportunity to strengthen our friendship even more. With a co-driver like that I would do a thousand more 1000 Miglia! You have to know, that when you are seen arriving in a classic car, people look at you and some come closer to get a better view. The streets fill up on the day of the 1000 Miglia… and we, on 17 June, witnessed a scene that cracked us up. A passer-by got a little too close to a car. So far, so good. We thought he wanted to ask for an autograph or take a photograph, but instead he slapped the driver!

How come? Don’t ask us because we don’t want to know. We just had a good laugh and continued our race.

The itinerary? After leaving Rome, we drove up to Ronciglione, Siena, Viareggio and finally Parma.

Day four, fourth stage, finish line coming up

The last day put us to the test, but we managed to finish the race!

When we arrived in Bergamo, we symbolically greeted our city in view of the partnership that will mark Bergamo and Brescia as the Capital of Culture in 2023. Perhaps it was this greeting to our city that gave us the strength to continue and finish the race.

We wanted to get to the finish line, that’s all we wanted! We didn’t give a damn about the statistics that screamed in our faces that 70% of cars don’t make it to the end, we had to make it. That we did and I can swear to you that it was an incredible thrill!

We feel really lucky to have had this incredible opportunity! We saw dream landscapes that reminded us how important it is to appreciate our Italian beauty and fully enjoy it. We should all be more grateful and thankful because so much beauty is not to be taken for granted.

It was an experience we will all carry in our hearts forever and, who knows, maybe WG Ellegi will participate again!

Luca Polini