What is the California Mille?

Last week we talked about how the beautiful ’53 Jaguar XK120 we had in our shop was getting prepared to go to the California Mille in San Francisco, California.californiamille2 Well, what exactly is the California Mille you may be asking, The California Mille is a run, not a race, starting in San Francisco and continuing into the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains to Monterey and along the Big Sur coast toward Carmel. It is open to cars that either ran or would have been eligible to run in the original event; hence participants cars must be designs from 1957 or earlier. The California Mille field is limited to 65 cars and applicants are screened for their car’s historical significance and general condition; not all applicants are accepted.

The California Mille is run in honor of the “Mille Miglia” which was as an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy. The Mille Miglia was run twenty-four times alfonsocrashfrom 1927 to 1957. From the years 1953 until 1957 it was also included as a round of the World Sports Car Championship.  The race was banned after two fatal crashes. The first was in 1957 when the crash of a 4.2-litre Ferrari 335 S took the lives of the driver Alfonso De Portago, his co-driver/navigator EdmundGottgens Nelson, and nine spectators. The car supposedly landed on top of Portago and Nelson cutting them in half. Portago desperately wanted to win this race and made the grave decision to wait to long to make a tire change.  The second crash was much less devastating, although it took the life of Joseph Gottgens and his Triumph T3.

The California Mille was founded in 1991 by automotive enthusiast Martin Swig, it is supported by an informal group called the “Amici americani della Mille Miglia”californiamille (“American friends of the Mille Miglia” in Italian). The event attracts a number of corporate sponsors which have included in the past Jaguar, Chrysler and Sotheby’s as well as many others this corporate sponsorship ensures that the California Mille remains one of the more exclusive and high quality events.

Travel Itenerary via The California Mille Website

“On Monday, April 24, at 8:30 a.m. Consul General Ortona will wave the Italian flag outside the departure arch at Mason and California Streets, officially starting the four-day, one thousand mile tour (not a race) of northern California time capsule towns and little-known backroads.

The Mille will cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head north toward Highway 1 passing through colorful Marin County towns and villages. At Laguna Elementary School on Chileno Road, the entire student body (all 16 kids and principal Cindy Demchuk) will greet the Mille by waving paper Italian flags and shouting “Benvenuto” – or something similar. The first day of the drive will end in Healdsburg.

On Tuesday, April 25, the Mille will drive to Cloverdale, Lakeport, Boonville, Elk and north, logging 191 miles before spending the night in Little River.

The California Mille will depart at 8:00 a.m. on April 26 for Fort Bragg, Westport, the stunning “Lost Coast,” Petrolia, and Ferndale. Day 3 will end with an overnight in Mendocino.

The final day of the legendary drive will take the Mille to Point Arena, Gualala, Jenner, Tomales, Nicasio, Petaluma, and complete the tour in Calistoga with an awards dinner and closing ceremonies.”

~Matt Beal

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