At the Mille Miglia

Reg Parnell, Louis Klemantaski, klemcoll, Aston Martin, Mille Miglia, Casa Maggi

This photograph was taken in the courtyard of Casa Maggi, the ancestral home of Count Aymo Maggi, one of the four original founders of the Mille Miglia along with Giovanni Canestrini, Renzo Castagneto and Franco Mazzotti. Casa Maggi was located near the village of Calino which is about 10 km west of Brescia. It was often used as pre-race headquarters for the English teams participating in the Mille Miglia. Here are two members of the Aston Martin team for the 1953 Mille Miglia which would take place on April 25-26. On the left is Reg Parnell who will drive this Aston Martin DB3 with photographer Louis Klemantaski who is standing in front of their car. Parnell had competed in the Mille Miglia a year earlier in an Aston Martin DB2, finishing thirteenth overall and second in GT. The team had begun its Italian sojourn over three weeks with tests at Monza under the eyes of team manager John Wyer, followed by familiarization training on sections of the Mille Miglia course. Wyer described life at Casa Maggi as, “a style of living which one is never likely to see again. It was absolutely feudal, really, with liveried flunkeys at every corner.”

Klemantaski found that the training was more frightening than the race itself as the roads were filled with slow and often erratic traffic, farmers’ carts and people walking about. He made notes, not of the most dangerous corners, as these were always so indicated by numerous spectators standing around who obscured the view anyway, but took special care to record the corners which could be taken at much higher speed than one might believe on the approach. Thereby, he was able to provide his driver with an opportunity to make up time which would not otherwise have been available.

Reg Parnell, Mille Miglia, klemcoll, Aston MartinThese preparations were highly effective, especially for a team not as naturally familiar with the roads as were the top Italian drivers.  Here is Parnell during the race which became a significant challenge for them both when late in the going the throttle cable broke, seemingly ending their run. Parnell, a former mechanic as well as a talented driver, was equal to this adverse event.  He got out, opened the hood and tied the throttles wide open thereafter controlling the engine power by switching the ignition key on and off. To make matters worse, the rough roads had caused the panhard rod to break away which affected rear axle location and made for unstable handling. Nevertheless, the Parnell/Klemantaski DB3 would finish fifth overall

Photos by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com

To see more photos from our archive go to: http://www.klemcoll.com/TheGallery.aspx

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