Derek Bell Does Mille Miglia, Speaks To Us First
Legendary racing driver Derek Bell MBE is set to compete in the 1,000-mile Mille Miglia – but not before chatting to us first.
Dubbed the “most beautiful race in the world”, the Mille Miglia sees 375 heritage vehicles drive Italy’s most picturesque roads. These cars are selected exclusively from the models that took part in at least one of the historical Mille Miglia races between 1927 to 1957 and are driven by some of motorsport’s biggest characters.
The 1000-mile rally tours the magical scenery of Italy, driving from the heart of the Mille Miglia in Brescia to Padova in Rome and then back again, passing San Marino, L’Aquila and Bologna along on the way.
Inspired by close friend Sir Stirling Moss, Bell will join the Jaguar heritage crew in a classic C-Type once driven by Jackie Stewart, and is keen to cross the line on his first Mille Miglia race.
We asked Mr Bell a few questions before he darted off to hop in the driver’s seat of this gorgeous C-Type…
What car will you be piloting in your first Mille Miglia?
I’ll be driving a 1950s Jaguar C-Type, owned by American art collector Adam Lindemann. It is one of the greatest cars from that era driven by top drivers of that time. I don’t believe this particular car won at Le Mans but the C-Type was the first Jaguar to win the 24hour race.
What are your earliest memories of the 1000-mile rally?
I remember watching Stirling Moss in the 1955 Mille Miglia when he averaged 98mph in his Mercedes SLR. He’s one of my heroes and, now I have the time to do it, I’m so pleased to be taking part in my first Mille Miglia race.
What prevented you from competing in the event before now?
I was still racing when I was offered to drive the event before, and when you’re a racing driver you don’t want to be stuck in a traffic jam in Italy when you can be on a race track at Monza.
What makes the Mille Miglia such a special event?
The Mille Miglia is a time when wealthy gentlemen bring out their beautiful cars in order to give us chaps a heck of a lot of pleasure. I think I qualify to say I know what a ‘race’ is, and this isn’t one. But it allows people – who probably shouldn’t be driving fast – a chance to drive very fast, beautiful cars on fantastic roads.
Are you going to have your competitive hat on, or are you just along for the journey?
My aim this weekend is to drive a brilliant car and enjoy a great event, keeping out of any trouble. This isn’t a race; it’s 1000 miles of wonderful adventures and I’m really happy to here taking part in such an amazing event. I hope everyone enjoys the next few days and we’ll see you at the finish.
We wish everyone competing in the Mille Miglia the very best of luck. Stay safe and have a blast!
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