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.
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!