I headed to Italy in 2019 to see some family, when I got a text from my friend Moritz Fischer about helping him run a Land Rover support truck in the Mille Miglia for a Jaguar C-Type and XK120. How fitting is that? Some of JLR’s finest teaming up to race. So I extended my stay another week and met up with Moritz in Milan.
What is the Mille Miglia? It’s ‘been called “The Most Beautiful Race in the World”. A one thousand mile (mille miglia) race around Italy that started in 1927 and ended in 1957. The race was reborn in 1977 which participation is limited to cars produced no later than 1957, which had attended, or were registered in the original race. The original round trip route from Brescia to Rome and back still maintains true to its road book rally style of racing./
I assumed it was more of a leisure drive through small towns and villages with some extravagant parties being thrown for us when we entered larger cities, but I couldn’t be more wrong. There was no Prosecco or prosciutto during race hours.
Our first day started with Moritz and I immediately getting lost for most of the morning as I struggled to comprehend the 125 page road book which was in Italian and measured in kilometers. What made it worse is the support trucks followed the race cars for about 75% of the course each day, only to be sent off on their own route periodically. This would have me flipping between two road books each day. It was exhausting, as we weren’t able to relay on GPS, signs or fans to point you in the right direction back to the route the race cars were on.
Half way through the first day we realized we were in a very serious race, chasing multi-million dollar vintage sports cars on public roads, with no regard for bystanders or the law in a Td5 Defender 110 with a roof top tent. This was not the sort of driving we were both used to. To add even more lawlessness, locals join the route with their Ferraris 308s, GTVs, Countachs and Lancia Fulvias to race with you.
Our third day on the race we finally felt like a well oiled support crew. I finally had my road books in order, our fuel stops with the Jaguars were under a minute. And were able to stop and get a cappuccino and pizza for the road. The drive through the rolling hills of Tuscany was by far the most enjoyable leg of the race.
“Che macchina! Che macchina!” is all we heard as we hauled the massive Defender 110 through the narrow streets and up the little mountain towns that laced Florence to Bologna. Not only did we have the coolest support truck in the race but possibly the most unexpected car you’d see racing along side vintage Italian, German and British sport cars. Moritz and I found the Defender 110 to be a perfect support truck as we could avoid traffic by jumping the curb or just rolling straight over round-a-bouts to make up time.
This was a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to do the Mille Miglia in a vintage Alfa Romeo 8C or Lancia Aurelia, but I think running a Land Rover Defender 110 Support truck was more my style. Land Rovers have always been the go-to support truck no matter the race. From early RAC days, Formula 1, Paris-Dakar, Goodwood and even in their own Camel Trophy events.