Paolo Mazzetti on the Mille Miglia in the ’80s

Dr. Paolo Mazzetti is a veteran of the modern-day Mille Miglia. In the 1980s and ’90s, he participated in the race eight times. Before that – and later on – he worked for the Mille Miglia organization as a press officer and in various other roles. Today, he is the historical expert for the Mille Miglia Archive.

Q: Dr. Mazzetti – what was the Mille Miglia like when you first got involved?

It was another life. The most important difference was that in my first race, all the protagonists of the “real” Mille Miglia, the winners and champions, were still alive. For me as a young man, sitting at the same table for lunch with people like Stirling Moss, Gianni Marzotto and Luigi Villoresi … was incredible. It was a dream event for racing fans.

Q: What highlights do you remember in particular?

There was no speed limit during the early eighties. In ’82 and ’83 this was a real race. And there were just 200 cars, rather than the 400 you see today. I remember when the Italian police accompanied the Prince of Kent in a ’34 or ’35 Aston Martin. They were driving a Alfa Romeo75 and their engine broke. The vintage Aston Martin was just too fast for them.

And I remember “The Bentley Boys”. They had huge cars – double the size and weight of the Bugattis. They used to bet which one of them would be first from Brescia to Rome and back. But back then the participants didn’t care about fancy trappings. Now, we have gala dinners and five star hotels. It’s a different world.

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