The 24th running of the California Mille, a motoring tribute to Italy’s most-famous open road race, the Mille Miglia (thousand mile), will begin with a free car show atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill on April 27 followed by a four-day, thousand-mile back roads adventure.
Some 77 entrants from four foreign countries and 14 U.S. states will assemble on Mason Street in front of the Fairmont Hotel where Italian Consul General Mauro Battocchi will arrive in a vintage Italian car, greet the crowd and invite any or all to join him in singing “Ill Canto degli Italiani”, the Italian National Anthem (At last year’s Mille Preview, Sig. Battocchi offered to buy anyone in the crowd a 1950s Alfa Romeo if they would join him in singing the anthem. There were no takers.)
“This year’s Mille may be the most significant compendium of classic cars we’ve ever had,” revealed co-director David Swig. “Along with some 13 Alfa Romeos, 11 Porsches, 6 Jaguars and half a dozen Ferraris — largely vintage ‘50s and ‘60s — we have a ’52 Tojeiro Roadster, a ’28 Bentley, ’57 Kurtis Kraft 500KK, and a ’38 Lancia Aprilia.”
“Perhaps the exceptional turn-out is the ‘double 24’ aspect of the two motoring milestones,” said co-director Howard Swig. “ The Italian race ran 24 times from 1927 to 1957, and this is the California Mille’s 24th running. Early registration suggests that this year may be our biggest and best drive ever.”
Up to 10,000 fans are expected to come to Nob Hill from noon to 6:00 PM on April 27to see the cars, meet the drivers, enjoy live Italian music by the Ron Borelli bandand participate in a presentation that will spotlight important cars, discuss their merits.
On Monday, April 28, the California Mille will depart at 8:30 AM, heading north to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, then motoring east to Lodi for lunch at the Wine and Roses Restaurant. That afternoon, the Mille will leave the Central Valley driving to the west shore of Lake Tahoe, with an overnight scheduled at the Resort at Squaw Creek in Olympic Valley.
Day 2, April 29, will see the California Mille motoring north into the picturesque and little-known Gold Lake region where drivers will avoid the temptation to ﬁsh, camp and hike (as normal tourists do), continuing instead to Nevada City for lunch at the historic Stonehouse Brewery. The afternoon drive will journey down the western slope of the Sierra with the Mille spending the night at the celebrated Citizen Hotel in Sacramento.
Day 3, April 30, the Mille classics will cruise along the banks of the Sacramento River, pass through the 19th century Chinese-designed town of Locke, then drive west to the Napa Valley wine country for lunch. Continuing westward, the Mille will amble through rarely-traveled back roads ending the day at Cavallo Point for the ﬁrst of two nights at this breathtaking San Francisco Bay-front resort.
On May 1, the ﬁnal day, the California Mille will climb 2500 feet to the near top of Mt. Tamalpais, the highest point in Marin County, smile for a commemorative group photo, then motor north for lunch in the village of Nicasio (population 600+/-; major attractions: Druid’s Hall, Volunteer Fire Department, Rancho Nicasio Restaurant), wander along the Paciﬁc Coast to Occidental, then turn south for the run back to Sausalito and the ﬁnal night’s awards banquet at Cavallo Point.
The California Mille was founded by Sausalito resident Martin Swig, who after driving the Mille Miglia from Brescia to Rome to Brescia, decided that northern California “Looked more like Italy than—Italy.” Thus was born, in 1990, The California Mille.
The Mille is produced by Amici americani della Mille Miglia (American Friends of the Mille Miglia), which also presents the annual New Year’s Day “Anti-Football Drive”, and will in 2015 re-stage La Carrera Nevada, its version of Mexico’s border-to-border La Carrera Panamericana.
David and Howard Swig are co-directors of these events and Dan Radowicz is the organizer.