The Mille Miglia kicks off today with the official Alfa Romeo team taking part being made up of racing professionals as well as internationally famous artists, all of whom are united by their love of classic Alfa Romeo cars, including Coldplay's bass player Guy Berryman, singer Piero Pelù and driver Derek Hill.
The parade of stars will add an extra touch of glamour to the 36th edition of the "Mille Miglia", the historic re-enactment of the legendary car race that is today is often considered to be "the world's finest travelling museum".
Alfa Romeo is once again a key protagonist in the Brescia-based classic car event, both as an official automotive sponsor, supply the orgnaisers with the contemporary Giulia and Stelvio, as well as "guest of honour", as this year marks the 90th anniversary of its first victory in the legendary race, held from 1927 to 1957. The race will also detour to Arese on the final day, Saturday.
With 47 cars taking part, both in the official team and from private entries, Alfa Romeo will have the second biggest representation in the entire event, surpassed only by its sister FCA brand Fiat, which can count on 49 cars participating.
The Alfa Romeo contingent is dominated by four historical rarities, the 6C 1500 SS, 6C 1750 GS, 1900 SS and 1900 Sport Spider, all of which have been made available by the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo at Arese, Milan.
The cars taking part all belong to the collection of FCA Heritage, the in house department which protects and promotes the historical heritage of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Italian brands.
All eyes will certaintly be drawn towards the 1500 Super Sport from 1928, which features coachwork by Stabilimenti Farina, as this year sees the celebrations of the 90th anniversary of the model's very memorable victory in the 1928 Mille Miglia.
More recently, this car from the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo, has won the historic re-enactment of the Mille Miglia three times, namely in 2005, 2007 and 2008. It has also been victorious in the "1000 Millas Sport" in Argentina on two occasions.
The 1928 6C 1500 Super Sport is equipped with a 6-cylinder, 1487cc engine, which delivers a maximum of 76 hp at 4,800 rpm and can reach a top speed of 140 km/h. Just thirty one of these cars were built between 1928 and 1929.
A curious fact: the car will be carrying the race number 30, which was also borne by its sister when gained the first Alfa Romeo victory in the Mille Miglia with Giuseppe Campari and Giulio Ramponi in 1928.
This car will be driven this week by Giovanni Moceri, the current Italian Grandi Eventi ACI Sport Champion who has victories in Italy's biggest historic regularity competitions to his name ranging from the Mille Miglia to the Targa Florio and the Coppa d'Oro delle Dolomiti.
Also speeding along the roads of the Mille Miglia this week will be a 6C 1750 Gran Sport, the legendary model which Tazio Nuvolari and Giovanni Battista Guidotti drove to victory in 1930.
As well as the "overtaking without lights" episode that has gone down in legend, this was also the race when Nuvolari achieved the unprecedented feat of averaging 100 km/h over the entire course.
The bodywork was created by Milan coachbuilder Zagato and at the wheel of this car will be Roberto Giolito, internationally famous automotive designer and currently Head of the FCA Heritage department.
The official Alfa Romeo team on the startimg ramp this morning in Brescia will becompleted by a 1900 Sport Spider from 1954 and a 1900 Super Sprint which is two years younger.
The former is an extremely rare racing spider, just two examples were produced. It is equipped with the 4-cylinder twin-cam dry sump "1900" engine, with maximum power boosted to 138 hp, enabling it to reach a speed of 220 km/h, thanks to a weight of just 880 kg and particularly efficient aerodynamics.
With its innovative Bertone design, the 1900 Sport Spider comes with a 5-speed transmission and a De Dion rear axle: performance and handling worthy of a modern car, responsive and reliable, with outstanding road-holding abilities.
This car will be driven in the race by a celebrity team of Guy Berryman and Derek Hill. The former, a world-famous musician, is Coldplay's bass player, a group with sales of more than 80 million disks to its name.
A passionate collector of classic cars, many of them Italian, Guy Berryman will take turns at the wheel of the 1900 Sport Spider with Derek Hill, a professional racing driver and son of Phil Hill, whose victory in the 1961 Formula 1 championship with Ferrari made him the first American ever to win the title.
A lover of classic cars, which he enjoys driving on both the road and the racing circuit, Derek Hill is Master of Ceremonies at Pebble Beach, the world's top Concours d'Elegance for classic cars, and has a special bond to Alfa Romeo, since he actually learnt to drive as a boy in a GTV belonging to his father.
By an unusual historic coincidence, in 1979 Phil Hill himself endorsed the Alfa Romeo Mille Miglia Sprint Veloce, a limited-edition car dedicated to the legendary race, built specifically for the United States market.
The quartet of official Alfa Romeo cars in the event will be completed by a 1900 Super Sprint from 1956, a coupé with Touring bodywork in a "gran tourism" version of the 1900. "The family car that wins races” – to quote the advertising claim that made it famous in the 1950s.
The 1900 SS is no newcomer to the Mille Miglia, since in the 1950s, when the competitive race was still being held, it was the car of choice for many gentlemen drivers on account of its performance and reliability.
Last but not least, amongst the many Alfa Romeo cars being driven in the event by private collectors, special mention should be made of the 1955 Giulietta Sprint of Piero Pelù, the famous Florentine singer and musician who in 1980 was a founder of Litfiba, a milestone in the history of Italian rock.
A lifelong Alfa enthusiast, Pelù takes part in the Mille Miglia as the guest of FCA Heritage. His car, recently meticulously restored, has received the Alfa Romeo Classiche "Certificate of Origin", the document containing the production specifications of a single chassis number, as contained in the constructor's own production records. The Italian singer will also have a star co-driver: his partner, international orchestral conductor Gianna Fratta.
Photos: Alfa Romeo - 36th Mille Miglia 2018