By Steve & Tamami Laser; with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan
You can dine at fine Italian restaurants in Japan, ride aboard a Venetian Gondola, and visit an “unfinished” replica of the Mona Lisa at Tokyo DisneySea. So it comes as no surprise that Japan has a 1,000-mile road rally for classic cars inspired by Italy’s famous Mille Miglia.
Now in its 21st year, “La Festa Mille Miglia” welcomed 112 classic cars to the event that started on Oct. 19 and ended on Oct. 22 at the same venue: Meiji Shrine at Harajuku, Tokyo. Entries competed in five classes with original (not replica) sports cars built from 1919 to 1967. This year’s field included four cars from the Porsche Museum in Germany.
While the thought of driving any vintage car for four days and nearly 1,000 miles sounds challenging, imagine the feeling piloting entries like a 1924 Bugatti, 1948 Cisitalia, or 1956 Porsche Spyder through the crowded streets of Tokyo and far beyond.
“As the ‘70 years of Porsche sports cars’ jubilee year draws to a close, we wanted to do something completely new for ourselves and appear in a totally different market”, says Achim Stejskal, manager of the Porsche Museum. “And Japan is a traditional Porsche market, where there’s a real car culture.”
Toshiyuki Shimegi, Managing Director of Porsche Japan, together with co-driver, journalist Yoshio Fujiwara, drove the priceless 550 RS Spyder, number 64, from the Porsche Museum, a car that recently completed a two-year restoration. While Japanese Porsche enthusiast, Kazumi Araki, drove his own 550 Spyder, with Atsuya Tsujimoto, which amazingly is production car number 65. (Porsche built only 130 of these cars.)
Other cars from the Porsche Museum included a white 1955 356 Speedster, driven by famous Japanese chocolatier Sadaharu Aoki, with journalist Kazuhiro Nanyo. A 1962 356 B 1600 Super 90 was driven by Achim Stejskal and editor Michael Schröder, while a 1956 356 A 1600, was piloted by Alexander Klein, Head of Vehicle Management at the Porsche Museum, and editor Roland Löwisch.
“Just like in Japan, equal importance is given to maintaining a living tradition and focusing on the future at the Porsche Museum,” says Klein, who is also responsible for historical driving events and the company collection. “And we’re delighted to see how well the Japanese spectators and fans are responding to our classic Porsches, and to receive such a warm welcome.”
From the first La Festa Mille Miglia in 1997 until the 2010 event, the driving route ran between Tokyo and Urabandai. However, the route was changed following the major earthquake and serious damage in the Tohoku region in 2011. This year, event organizers said they returned to the original route in appreciation and support for the Tohoku region.
Following the departure from Tokyo, participants drove more than 200 miles to Urabandai Lake Resort in Fukushima Prefecture with stops along the way at Kyororan-Mura Nishigou Village, Okawa Furusato Park, Ouchijuku and Enzoji Temple.
The second day travelled through Fukushima, Miyagi, and Yamagata Prefectures with visits to the Link racetrack, Fukushima Sky Park, and Shiroishijo and Tsurugajo castles.
Day three featured the longest stretch of nearly 300 miles to Narita stopping at the British Hills in Tenei Village for tea and scones, Hunter Mountain Shiobara, and the Hero Sinoi Circuit in Utsunomiya City, Tochigi.
On day four, the last day of the event, participants drove to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, the Sodegaura Forest Raceway, visited Tokyo German Village in Sodegaura City, and completed the event at Meiji Shrine.
With three toolboxes and one spare tire per car, the cars from the Porsche Museum completed the rally without incident.
While the Porsches didn’t win the event, Spyder driver Araki received a Porsche Museum Special Award; a champagne cooler shaped like an air-cooled Porsche engine cylinder from Porsche Design.
During the course of the event, cars and drivers stopped at 29 stamp and check points and completed 15 PC competition sites.
The top three vehicles at La Festa Mille Miglia this year included a 1928 Bugatti T40 with driver Kyoto Takemoto and co-driver Junko Takemoto scoring 34,198.25 points, a 1952 Triumph TR2 driven by Giordano Mozzi and Stefania Biacca with 32,203.50 points, and a 1932 MG C-Type with driver Manabu Yamazaki and co-driver Masayoshi Yamazaki with 29,217.12 points.
For more information and details about future events visit La Festa Mille Miglia
News sources courtesy Porsche AG and La Festa Mille Miglia. Photos courtesy the copyright holder, Porsche AG, are reproduced here for editorial use.
Story © 2018 CarNichiWa.com