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XCAR: Mille Miglia 2014: A front-row seat

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XCAR: Mille Miglia 2014: A front-row seat

13:10 /

XCAR drives nearly a thousand miles in a 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupé, following millions of dollars of metal and catching up with Jay Leno, Brian Johnson and Jodie Kidd along the way.

[MUSIC] You join me at an event I never thought I'd get to witness, a legendary rally that showcases cars from the days before they were designed by computer, when big engines meant. Bigger power and the lack of noise was an issue. This is the 2014 Mille Miglia. [MUSIC] I'm standing in a room with hundreds of millions of pounds worth of metal. And these are not just to be stared at, these are going to be driven pretty hard for about a 1,000 miles. But I am not going to be driving one of the cars in this room, no, I am going to be in a shiny new Jaguar F Type, a car that would do pretty well if and when it was still running properly today, but it isn't. The Mille Mille in it's original form ran from 1927 to 1957, with a break for a small war in the middle, and it was pretty spectacular. The race was devised by Count Aymo Maggi and Franco Mazzotti, who were both pretty pissed that the Italian Grand Prix had been moved from their home town of Brescia to Monza. So the chaps decided that they didn't need the GP to have fun. They needed a route from Brescia to Rome and back. The first year's route took in a figure of 8 and was about 1600 kilometers long or around a thousand miles hence the mille millia. The race itself was open to any unmodified production sports car and the entry fee was a very reasonable 1 lira. 77 cars left [UNKNOWN] and 51 crossed the finish line. The winner, Giuseppe Morande in his OM did the run in 21 hours and 5 minutes. Pretty impressive considering the era. As time went on, the race grew. No Italian cars were the norm at the top spot. A few foreigners won out, most notably in 1955 with Sterling Moss and navigator Denis Jenkinson. In a Mercedes Benz 300 SLR. 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds after leaving the start line, they crossed the finish line, having averaged 97.98 miles per hour over the 992 mile course. However, road racing on a unlimited roads for about a thousand miles is chaffing dangerous, especially when you consider that the cars were designed to go quickly. Corner well but not necessarily stop or crash particularly well. Now, in 1957 the mini as it once was halted for good after two pretty severe crashes. The first was at the hands of Alphonso de Ortega. Who crashed his Ferrari 335S. Taking not only his life. But [INAUDIBLE] navigator, Edmund Nelson and nine spectators, five of which were children. The second saw German driver, Used Gutgens die in a Triumph TR3. The following year, the Milli had changed significantly. It was now a road rally that took in legal speeds with a few special stages allowed at full pelt. That lasted from 1958 until '61 and then it went on a small hiatus. In 1977 it came back as the event we see today. And that's the one I'm here to witness, four days of pretty intense high-speed driving from Russia, to Rome, and back again, taking in a big old loop of Italy. But,. My humble F-type isn't allowed to enter. Only cars built pre-1957 and which would have been originally eligible for the Mille Mille are. So I'm only following two cars. A Jaguar XK-120, driven by Jaguar design boss, Ian Callum, and the legendary Jay Leno, but also a long-nosed Jaguar D-type driven by Martin Brundle and Bruno Senna. Who, rumor has it. Are in it to win it. That's what he said. Win it to win. Well look at that, we've got four egg timers. A whole, a whole event relying on four egg timers. It's gonna be hugely exciting. I know what's in front of me. I tell you, it's quite terrifying. I'll be honest with you. It's, we dream, this one, I mean. Have you had a look around this place? Some of the greatest cars in the world are gathered under one roof. In an exhibition, actually gonna be resting some of the drivers, the, are just fantastic. My job is to get from stage to stage as quick as possible to take in the sights and sounds and smells and get a feel on what the multimedia is truly like. Our journey starts tomorrow. Day one of mini mania is an interesting one. It's a late start from the competitors and the traffic in Brescia as you'd expect from any Italian town is mad. Twin that with road closures and restricted access and you've got something of a big automotive mess. [NOISE] Cut through that however, and you end up with, for the competitors and us, stretches of road lined with, million pound cars, dosing with pedestrians. All baying for noise, loving the fact that the million media is rolling past them. Showcasing some of the world's finest cars doing what they do best. Race. We're in the middle of Russia for the sealing of the cars. Basically, that means every car that's gonna compete in the Mille goes through and then they're just parked on the street. Everyone seems to celebrate the cars that are about to do something, frankly, mental. Yes, the Mille Mille has changed since its inception. It's had to. But this is a competition to get from a to b as quickly as possible. As such, unless someone piles their car into another,. The roads are yours to do what you want with. Straddle the middle lane? Fine. Speed? Go for it. The police will stop traffic for you to blast through red lights and give priority on roundabouts, so your progress is unhindered. The drive from [UNKNOWN] to [UNKNOWN] was a short leg compared to the rest, but it still took time. Adrenaline carries you through the first 100 K or so and in the F types we had air con, comfy seats. All those kind of things. We cruised into town in time to catch some of the cars crossing the line. The drivers looked happy, a little tired. Some of it's confusing, isn't it? We saw a few guys going on the wrong way. And it would be so easy to follow them Car was very good Very good. The brake's a little soft at times. Fine car. It's a fine car. It taught me how to stop a few times. So we're now here at the finish line. Just waiting to see the J's come through. See the guys we know. Celebrate with everybody. And then tomorrow, it all starts again. [MUSIC] So it's now day two, and today is going to be a lot longer than yesterday. We've got to drive from here in Padua to Rome. Now, Rome is a long way away from here. And there's gonna be lots of cars, lots of congestion, and lots of mentalness and considering how easy it is to get lost, thanks to the lovely roadwork which is incredibly complicated, but I can't think of a better car to do it in, we've got a Jaguar F-type R Coup A. Now I've driven it before, absolutely love it. Big noise, big power, big fun, big smiles. I'm looking forward to it. It's gonna be a long one. It's gonna be punishing. From Padova we were heading to San Marino on our way to Rome. San Marino saw us climb high and showed us just how stunning the area really is. They'd seen not only Saura's dice with some pretty special metal but also driving a long-nosed Jaguar D-type driven by Bruno Center and Martin Brundle buzzed us not once but twice. Making a hell of a noise as it went by. There are, no rules here. There are none. If you've got a [UNKNOWN] badge on your car, you do whatever the hell you want. Wanna go past a big line of traffic? Go. There's probably a police escort that's about to pass you. Just follow him. No one really cares. There's classic cars buzzing you at every opportunity. Crowds lining the streets and you drive through the most beautiful tiny villages. And everyone's there just wanting you to go faster, begging you to go on, and who's really [UNKNOWN] is make all manner of ungodly noise, and that's what people want to hear. When we're not in a heritage car a classic. Car we're not part of the event proper, we have true front row seats to what we're seeing, we've got the closest you're gonna get without being there, without being in one of those cars and that's, it's, it's a crazy honor. It's kind of heaven for a petrol head. You can come, you can play, you're egged on, you just slide the car a little bit and people love it. I'm a very, very lucky boy. And I've got two more days of this. Well today was good. We had pretty much everything. We had sunshine, we had rain, we had terrific drives. And this car is just amazing. It's [INAUDIBLE] gets better, it's gets prettier and prettier as the [INAUDIBLE] goes on. A little bit of a cold feel and then feels [INAUDIBLE] But it was great, great fun. And the car's a treat, a real treat. Today's route will take us from Rome to Bologna. We set off a breakneck speed through the crowds and off on our way, simply knowing that we could do as we please. We took another support car route to see a [UNKNOWN] just as Jay Leno and Ian Callum were giving it their all. After that, they hit the road and we ended up just behind them. They seemed to be getting on well when I caught up with Ian at a stop later. We've had a great morning this morning on our way to Vienna. And it's just, so far, it's been very good. We've had helicopter chases with cameras cuz Jay's with me. And we've had a lot of, you know, interviews and things to do which is fun but a lot of fans chasing us. Amazing going to these gath-, how do these 15 year old kids in the middle of Italy know about Jay Leno? They all know who he is. It's incredible. So, we've had a good time. It's day 3 of the Mille Miglia and right now I'm standing the Piazza Majora in. And tomorrow we are getting up early. We're leaving here. We're heading back to [UNKNOWN] for the finish line. And if this is even a tiny little bit of what we are going to expect tomorrow, tomorrow is going to be insane, and I can't wait. [MUSIC] For the final time our little convoy of [UNKNOWN] went herring through Italy. The final leg from Bologna back to Brescia was short, sweet, and once again deliciously noisy. You can never underestimate the loudness of the sound that falls out of the back of an F. Type. We left early to try and get to the finish line in time to see the Jags we were following roll over. The Milamelia is the type of event that only somewhere like Italy could get away with. It's loud, it disrupts the public highway, it turns a blind eye to speeding and inspires some seriously suspect driving from time to time. This year's event wasn't without its crashes, all heard down the grapevine, mind. If you want to see the greatest moving motor show on Earth, feel what it would have been like to run it properly, chasing the show in an F-Tigress is certainly the best way to do it. [MUSIC] I've reached the end of the 24 team melee media. Covered over 1,600 km. We did a little bit of math. We did 996.8 miles. And we didn't do the entire route. We cut bits off. God knows how much further the competitor cars had gone. [UNKNOWN] Austin. Aah! Absolutely awesome! No one ever took us. Today we took about 30 or 40 people so amazingly well, incredibly. And this thing is a flying machine. It's beautiful. But I've never experienced four days like it. it really is as good as everyone says it is. And we're gonna do it again next year. Cool. Yeah, in a faster car! You can't get two [INAUDIBLE] Where else could he drive a thousand miles [INAUDIBLE] drive over the finish line [INAUDIBLE] We did some of the room, we were [INAUDIBLE] with priceless cars, 300 SL's [INAUDIBLE] at one point [INAUDIBLE]. [NOISE] [INAUDIBLE] [MUSIC] You know what? To have done this, to have been part of it and to have had a front row seat for what must be the greatest road race on Earth, and the drivers, some of the. Mind blowing, and unbelievably committed to doing what they do. They take no prisoners, most of them because they want to win. [INAUDIBLE] because this is simply epic. [MUSIC]

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