Morning Qualifying – The Fast and The Ridiculous edition

Alberto Ascari in his Lancia D24, during the 1954 Mille Miglia

In 1954, the great Alberto Ascari won the Mille Miglia; Ascari completed the thousand mile journey from Brescia through Pescara, Rome, Pisa, Florence, Bologna, Modena, Palma and back to Brescia in 11 hours 26 minutes, at an average speed of 87.27 mph.  Ascari’s departure from Brescia was at 6:02 in the morning; the time of Ascari’s departure being the number painted on his Lancia D24.
Alberto Ascari's Lancia D24 about to pass Brandoli's Fiat 8V during 1954 Mille Miglia.

Penso che possa….Penso che possa….Penso che possa….Penso che possa….

And then, there is Mario Cipollo, unintentional comic relief.  Cipolla’s car number is 2100, which indicates that he started at 9pm…..4 1/2 hours after Ascari finished! He then spent 22 hours completing the course, at an average “speed” of 45 miles an hour, to finish 176th out of 182 finishers……ahead of three more Isettas and two Fiat Topolinos.    It is remarkable is that Cipollo, and the rest of the Mille Miglia back markers, appear to still have had an audience a whole day after the leading contenders passed through.   And, if the expressions on the spectators’ faces are anything to go by, Cipollo and his team mates got laughed at for the entire 1000 miles!
But, did Cipollo deserve the ridicule?  Consider this…..the top speed of an Iso Isetta, which is “powered” by a single cylinder, 234 cc engine, is 47 mph.  Therefore, Signore Cipollo had his foot to the floor, hauling maximum ass, for the duration of the race.  You might not respect the pace, but this is one tiny, determined hoon!  Viva Ascari!  And dammit, Viva Cipollo!



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  1. coupeZ600 Avatar

    That's what I tell everyone about my coupe Z when they ride in it.
    "This is a drag-race, but we're the only ones that know that we're in it…."

  2. muthalovin Avatar

    Man, those dudes in pic 2 & 3 look so damn excited. Are people still that excited being 20 yards away with thousands of pounds of barriers between them and the excitement?

    1. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
      Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

      1. Italians really love their motor sports.
      2. During the Mille Miglia, the entire country shut down. Schools and businesses closed their doors. Italian state radio broadcast updates every quarter hour, and every radio was tuned in. Sort of an unofficial, official holiday….(think Super Bowl Sunday, Italian style).
      3. Standing so close to something so beautiful and potentially deadly will get you blood pumping.

  3. FЯeeMan Avatar

    So, 722 has been etched in our minds simply because that was Sir Stirling's start time? How odd..
    Also, why is 602 passing 2341? 602 + 1126 = 1724, hours before 2341 should have been leaving. Maybe I need more coffee this morning?

    1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      Maybe 2341 left the night before? That or it's one of the sub plots in SQ4. Likely the second option.

    2. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
      Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

      I've wondered about 602 passing 2341 myself.

  4. alcology Avatar

    The only ones that didn't laugh were the tree people of Mille Miglia. They long for speed in their secret hearts, but to leave the tree is unthinkable.

    1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      Outstanding. Slow clap for you.

  5. kvhnik Avatar

    This evening on the way back home in the rural area where we live, I hit a speed for a few moments similar to Mr. Acari's average speed. It was a very quiet, very straight two lane road and I was in a fairly modern (2003 non-WRX Subaru), safe car. Still, it was short lived and I came to my senses and resumed a more proper, and legal, pace quickly. To have maintained that velocity for 1000 miles in an open car over the roads of Italy of that time is simply amazing.