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Italian Ministers drive in vintage car race

For the first time Italian government ministers are taking part in the classic Mille Miglia (1,000 Miles) car race from Brescia to Rome and back.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo will be behind the wheel of a 1929 Alfa Romeo Giulietta when the vintage car race roars into the Italian capital Friday evening at the end of the race's second day and parades in front of Castel Sant'Angelo for the public to enjoy.

The race kicked off Thursday night in Brescia with Interior Minister Roberto Maroni in a unique Isotta Fraschini firetruck getting a head start on the 375 vintage cars participating in the open road race on the first leg to Bologna.

All cars taking part were registered between 1927 and 1957, when the Mille Miglia was an official open-road endurance race. Aside from Brescia, Bologna and Rome, this year's route travels through Gambettola, Urbino, Spoleto and Rieti on the way to the capital and Siena, Florence, Bologna, Reggio Emilia, Parma, Cremona and Manerbio on the way back.

The original Mille Miglia was staged 27 times between 1928 and 1957 and kickstarted the careers of motor racing legends like Tazio Nuvolari, Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio and Sterling Moss, who set a course record in 1955.

The late Enzo Ferrari once described the Mille Miglia as ''the world's greatest road race''.

The race was banned in 1957 after a car crash which caused the death of the driver, his navigator and 11 spectators.

It was revived in 1977 as the Mille Miglia Storica (Historic 1,000-Mile) and has become a parade reserved for vintage cars from racing's golden era including beautiful machines like Bugattis, Lancias, Alfa Romeos, Aston Martins, Ferraris, Maseratis and prewar Mercedes and Porsches.

Most of the cars are driven by international celebrities from the worlds of business, entertainment and sports.

by S. C.
08 may 2010, World News > Italy