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An Italian tradition is coming through Madison Friday.

The Mille Miglia, a historic open-road endurance race held from 1927-1957 in Italy, is coming to the area this week in the form of the 1000 Miglia Warm Up USA.

Since 1977, the Mille Miglia Storica race has been held as a regularity race for classic and vintage cars. Participation is limited to cars which were in the original race and the event serves as a reenactment of the original race. It’s a rally-type event with time trials seeking low speed exact times over prescribed distances.

According to consultant Mark Gessler, the annual event, held in May, includes several hundred competitors. Last year, 430 historic cars were included. Gessler said the event, which is owned by the 1000 Miglia organization, attracts millions of spectators.

“It’s the largest motoring spectator event in the world,” he said.

Now the spirit of that race, the 1000 Miglia Warm Up USA, is being held Oct. 23-26. More than 25 cars will cover approximately 500 miles starting Thursday in Middleburg and finishing Saturday in Washington, D.C.

“We’re taking it out of Italy and bringing it to the U.S.,” Gessler said. “We chose to end in D.C. because there is Italian soil located at the ambassador’s residence.”

Gessler said the event will include two loops—a northern loop from Gettysburg to Middleburg and a southern loop including Montpelier and Madison, as well as the Shenandoah National Park. Time trials will be held in both Orange and Madison counties with Champlain Road in Etlan serving as the Madison location. He said the routes were inspired by his work with the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, a national heritage area from Gettysburg to Charlottesville.

“In Italy, it’s about the landscape, people and culture,” Gessler said, stating the idea is to replicate that. “We have history woven into the event.”

Gessler said he hopes the U.S. race will become an annual event and noted that while many of the teams participating are American, one is Polish and many have never been to the area before.

“They’ll get a little bit of scenery and [will experience] D.C.,” he said. “These are people who are coming to the area and have never been.”

The 1000 Miglia Warm Up USA is held in partnership with the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Alfa Romeo, Chopard, Alitalia, Competizione & Sports Cars, Creighton Farms, Fairmont Washington D.C. Georgetown and the Town of Middleburg. For more information, visit 1000miglia.it.

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