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1955 Mille Miglia
Michael Turner

Roller-Map
Roller Map


miglia_nm.gif (3623 bytes)

Mille Miglia
 

Stirling Moss
Stirling Moss
1955 Mille Miglia

 
 

The race would not start for another two months but already Daimler-Benz was hard at work earmarking 20,000 pounds for preperation. Sixty technicians had taken over the Union garage in which they deposited stocks of spare as well as piles of tires, their organization headquarters at Gardone. Their drivers Kling, Hans Herrmann and Moss would travel between the factory in Stuttgart and Brescia for their reconnaissance laps. Neubauer insisted that his drivers should cover the route a minimum of five times or 5,000 miles in all, Kling would end up doing almost 30,000 miles in practice. Fangio was the last to arrive but as soon as his bags were unpacked he to was sent out by Neubauer. Hiring a little 1100 Fiat, Fangio began his own study of the route.

1955 Mille MigliaLancia decided to put all their efforts into their Grand prix car and did not attend the race this Year. Ferrari was in a state of turmoil with the departure of Aurelio Lampredi a few months after the race but for now they were able to provide four cars for Taruffi, Castellotti, Maglioli and Paolo Marzotto. Taruffi had made a special effort to be in top form for the race and decided to enter the Giro di Sicilia as a warm-up to the Mille Miglia. Driving the same car as he would in May he scored a flawless victory and was pleased about his prospects. There was a dispute between Ferrari and their tire manufacturer and this would crop up in the race with first Marzotto and later Castellotti losing treads.

Of the Mercedes drivers Kling and Fangio would drive solo, Herrmann was partnered by his mechanic, Hermann Eger while Moss had Denis Jenkinson, Continental Correspondent for Motorsport magazine as his navigator. Jenks as he was known had previously won the 1949 motorcycle side car World Championship as a passenger with Eric Oliver. For this race he only needed to stay in the vehicle while relaying the course directions he had written onto 15 1/2 foot of roller-notes through hand signals.

The week before the race the Piazza della Vittoria, the nerve center on race weekend still belonged to the locals. By Friday afternoon four scrutineering posts had been set up as well as an immense scoreboard that would track the positions of each competitor. That evening, at his magnificent estate, Count Maggi, one of the founders of the Mille Miglia held his traditional reception.

1955 Mille MigliaAt 9 p.m. on Saturday the first of the small cars left the starting ramp at Brescia. It was not till 6:30 the the next morning that the Mercedes team was warming up for the start. At 6:58 the first of the Mercedes was off, that being the car of Fangio. Kling would leave at 7:01 and Herrmann at 7:04. Moss would leave at 7:22 and their main Ferrari rivals would leave at 7:23 and 7:27, driven by Castellotti and Taruffi. For once the weather held with the promise that it would be a hot day. From Brescia the road headed east towards Verona. Along the way the Mercedes would reach speeds of 170 mph as it began to reel in the slower cars that had started earlier. Besides serving as Moss' navigator it was also Jenkinson's job to press the horn button, which flashed the headlights as they came upon another car. Cruising at 7,500 rpm or approximately 175 mph when Moss glancing at his mirror saw a red flash. Pointing behind them Jenkinson saw Castellotti's big Ferrari gaining on them at an unbelievable rate of speed. Moss tore in to Padova at 150 mph but still the Ferrari came closer. Too late they realized that they were approaching a sharp bend at too high of a speed. Moss jumped on the brakes just short of locking the wheels. The left front of the Mercedes just grazed the straw bales and bounced into the middle of the road. Moss without a moments hesitation accelerated in bottom gear as the Ferrari shot past, Castellotti's face breaking into a huge grin as he looked over his shoulder. Castellotti was driving like a madman as he slid his Ferrari through the corners, his tires leaving large black streaks on the road and enveloping itself in a great cloud of dust. Not believing that the Ferrari would be able to maintain its murderous pace Moss decided to allow Castellotti to draw ahead.

Mille Miglia 1955Marzotto had a promising start but disaster struck when a tire threw a tread as he was traveling at 174 mph. By a miracle he was able to keep his Ferrari on the road but as he stopped to grab the spare he noticed that it was a different size from the other four wheels so disgustingly he was forced to retire.

Ravenna, 188 miles into the route was the site of the first official control. While the Mercedes slowed to have their route card stamped they noticed Castellotti's Ferrari in the service area having it's tires replaced. Towards Rimini and the Adriatic coast all the thrashing about mixed in with the fumes and the heat from the gear-box finally had its effect on Jenkinson where he proceeded to lose his breakfast over the side as well as his spectacles. Luckily he carried a spare pair. Reaching Rome they learned that they were now in the lead followed by Taruffi, Herrmann, Kling and Fangio. Moss continued to maintain a brutal pace. Just out of Rome they saw the wreckage of Kling's Mercedes against a tree who had crashed avoiding some spectators. Luckily he only suffered some broken ribs. Moss continued to press on and besides the usual incidents which included some hair-raising escapes the Mercedes didn't miss a beat.

1955 Mille MigliaCrossing the finish line at Brescia they were informed that Taruffi's Ferrari was out with a broken transmission and that victory belonged to them. Moss won the race at a record average speed of 157.650kph breaking records for Brescia-Pescara [189.981kph], Brescia-Rome [173.050kph] as well as the 'Nuvolari Grand Prix' stretch from Cremona to Brescia [198.464kph]. As if this was not enough, Moss also won the index of performance, normally the preserve of smaller cc cars. Fangio driving a car on seven cylinders finished second overall followed by the last works Ferrari of Maglioli. That night, at the Hotel Vittoria the Mercedes team led by Neubauer were celebrating their second victory at the Mille Miglia, the only foreign manufacturer to ever win the Italian classic.

 
 
Maserati Team1955 Mille Miglia1955 Mille Miglia1955 Mille MigliaMaserati 2000 Sport - 1955 Mille Miglia

 
1 Moss - Jenkinson
Winning Speed 98.53 mph
  Mercedes   10h 07m 48s
         
2 Fangio   Mercedes   10h 39m 33s
3 Maglioli   Ferrari   10h 52m 47s
4 Giardini   Maserati   11h 15m 32s
5 Fitch   Mercedes   11h 29m 31s
6 Sighinolfi   Ferrari   11h 33m 27s
May 1-2, 1955
Starters: 521 Finishers: 281