Italian classic car street race comes to UAE for inaugural 1,000-mile tour

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A race of vintage supercars around the world will for the first-time head to the UAE this year to mark the country’s 50th anniversary.

The UAE is set to host the five-day Mille Miglia – an open-road, motorsport endurance race, described by enthusiasts as the most beautiful race in the world – from December 5.

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It will be the first time the event is staged in the Middle East.

Over the course of the five days, 50 participants from round the world will compete in 100 landmark automobiles against 50 drivers from across the Arab world, with participants passing through all of the UAE’s seven emirates.

The inaugural 1000 Miglia Experience UAE 2021 race will start on December 5 from Yas Marina, home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and end at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Ras Al Khaimah on the fifth day.

Marwan Al Sarkal, chief executive of Shurooq Investments and on the advisory board of organizers Octanium International, said the tour will coincide with a special part of UAE’s history.

“It is about stories and legends, and discovering the UAE,” he said. “We want to showcase our country to the world in a different way. It is more than just cars driving around cities.

“This is bringing Italy closer to the UAE.”

The first ever Mille Miglia event open-road, motorsport endurance race established in 1927 by the young Counts Francesco Mazzotti and Aymo Maggi, which took place in Italy twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957.

Vintage cars pass by Castel Sant'Angelo during Mille Miglia race arrival in Rome on May 18, 2012. This historic parade of classic machines called Mille miglia started in 1927 from Brescia to Rome and back. (File photo: AFP)
Vintage cars pass by Castel Sant'Angelo during Mille Miglia race arrival in Rome on May 18, 2012. This historic parade of classic machines called Mille miglia started in 1927 from Brescia to Rome and back. (File photo: AFP)

Like the older Targa Florio and later the Carrera Panamericana, the MM made grand tourers like Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes Benz and Porschefamous.

The grand tour attracted some of the fastest and most dangerous vehicles in production, piloted by a rare breed of courageous drivers who braved the streets of Italy its many hazards.

A national treasure, the race attracted some five million spectators across the country during the peak of its popularity.

“The UAE is home to over 195 nationalities and represents a favorite destination for millions each year. We are a global hub for talent, development and trade not only for Emiratis but for everyone. We welcome the world to join us to live, work and play,” Alia Al Hammadi, Deputy Chairwoman of the UAE Government Media Office, said during the launch held at the House of Wisdom in Sharjah on Tuesday.

“At the backdrop of the most beautiful race in the world — the Mille Miglia — the UAE provides an unforgettable experience. We are delighted to be working together with Octanium and Mille Migilia and show the world that impossible is possible,” she added.

Franco Beretta, chairman of 1000 Miglia, said that it the race was a fitting way to mark the UAE’s 50th year. “The relationship between Italy and the UAE is very important and it is fitting that we can celebrate the 50 years of the Emirates. To have the Mille Miglia around the seven Emirates is a great honour and we hope that all who participate will enjoy.

“At the beginning, the Mille Miglia wanted to achieve the impossible. It was a fast race on dirt roads. This is what made it so significant at the start of the automotive industry with such technical expertise.

“It attracted the elite of the elite from England, Italy and Germany. The scenery of Italy made it the most beautiful race in the world.”

Former F1 driver Jochen Mass, who has competed in the race for three decades, is an advisory board member of Octanium International and won the Spanish GP in 1975.

“When Mercedes asked me to race the Mille Miglia in the early 1990s it was very special,” he said. The support from the population in the Italian villages was incredible and something very dear.

“It is what makes the race the most sympathetic in the world. To have it here in the UAE is incredible.”

Nicola Lener, Italy’s ambassador to the UAE, said the race could become an annual event.

“I am proud to be here with this proud, historical brand. Italy shares many things with the UAE, so to have this race here is a source of pride.”

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