Monthly Column




From Past Milles





Amici americani della Mille Miglia
Lunches with Mr. Q – dedicated to Martin Swig

December 7, 2012

When California Mille founder Martin Swig read Wheels of Change, Kevin Nelson's awarding-winning book on the West Coast car culture, he saw a follow-up story on his long-time friend KJell Qvale.

"How about a book on the guy who imported the first MGs, brought Jaguar to the West Coast, built the Jensen-Healey and Qvale Mangusta?" he asked Nelson.

The result: Lunches with Mr. Q -- dedicated to Martin Swig.

“A must read for every Jaguar owner.”
– Steve Kirby, President, Jaguar Club of Southern California

Author Kevin Nelson (left) with Kjell Qvale by San Francisco Bay.
(MG courtesy of Judy and Rick Storms, San Rafael, California.)

“The day I saw the MG,” said Kjell Qvale, (Mr. Q) his blue eyes brightening, “changed my life. It had no bumpers, no roof. Steering was on the right. It looked goofy. But it gave me the biggest thrill I’ve ever had.”

That moment occurred in 1946 on a New Orleans back street.

Every owner of an MG knows the thrill. And now you can read story of a young Norwegian who lived the American dream to the fullest -- and along the way imported the MG, brought Jaguar to the West, manufactured the Jensen-Healey and Mangusta sports cars, and today -- at 93 -- still goes to the office to dream about his next enterprise.

Ex-GM CEO Bob Lutz says, “This book needed to be written. It chronicles the life of one of America's original and greatest 'car guys', who made the whole West Coast (and thus the Nation) aware of the motoring joy that could be found in European sports cars."

Lunches with Mr. Q is Kevin Nelson’s latest automotive book that reveals the exciting life of this
American automotive titan. We’ll rush you a signed copy -- and pay the postag e-- if you order today at just $19.95. It’s a great addition to your library -- or a timely holiday gift!

To order info@SouthamptonBooks.com

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New Year’s Day Anti-Football Run
Forces College Games to Move to January 2

September 19, 2012

The score: Old cars on back roads - 21. Football on TV - 6.

Television will have fewer college football games on January 1, 2013, thanks to the semi-legendary Anti-Football Run. Except for such strong draws as the Ticket City Bowl, the Outback Bowl and the TaxSlayer.com Bowl (and the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl), increasing numbers of bowl games have moved to January 2, presumably out of deference to or fear of the popularity of the Anti-Football Run.

“That’s clear evidence”, says Anti-Football Run organizer David Swig, “that sitting behind the wheel of some colorful old crock is more fun than munching pizza in front of a 42-inch plasma TV showing a game no one really watches anyway.”

The Anti-Football drive, now in its 23rd (or maybe 24th) year, brings interesting cars that are at least 25 years old and their equally interesting drivers of any age to Marin County on New Year’s Day. The goal? To celebrate the open road, the refreshing smell of vintage car exhaust fumes and the challenge of keeping a fragile old sports car going even though it may have 300,000 miles on its odometer and may be missing a few creature comforts i.e top, heater, bumpers, or any weather protection whatsoever.

In 2012, more than one hundred cars joined the drive. “We’re expecting even more entrants in 2013,” revealed Swig, who will be driving a one-off 1953 "El Caballo de Hierro", otherwise known as the Horse of Iron. 

Cars and drivers will gather at the Poggio restaurant at 777 Bridgeway in Sausalito for 8:00 AM coffee and a few cautions. “Be sensitive to the environment,” said Swig. “Don’t throw anything from your car unless it can be used by another car to complete the drive. Cars with open exhausts should avoid down-shifting in Olema and Pt. Reyes Station where backfires might sound like gun shots and frighten the local chickens.”

The drive will begin more or less promptly at 9:00 AM with the symbolic bursting of a plastic football. The route will take the Anti-Football Drive along some of the most scenic lightly traveled backroads of West Marin county, eventually heading inland for a coffee and cheese break at The Cheese Factory on West Spain Street in Petaluma. The drive will be followed by a no-host lunch and informal awards ceremony at Poggio in Sausalito to honor significant cars and drivers.

The public is invited to meet the drivers and see the cars before, during or after the event. The cost to enter will be $35 and will include a commemorative Anti-Football Run baseball cap. Download the entry form from our events page in mid-November.

Reservations for lunch are suggested - call Poggio at 415.332.7771 to book your table. 

Questions about the Anti-Football Drive should be directed to the Amici Americani della Mille Miglia via email at info@californiamille.com or by phone at 415.479.9940 . 

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The 23rd annual California Mille
"Tribute to Martin Swig" celebrates its founder and continues the motoring tradition - April 29-May 2, 2013

September 12, 2012

Mille Car Show Returns to Nob Hill, Sunday, April 28

California's most celebrated vintage car road tour, the California Mille, returns for its 23rd year, continuing the celebrated tradition of spirited driving in vintage sports cars on the scenic backroads for which they were intended. The cacophony of wonderful sounds produced by Alfa Romeos, Porsche 356s, Jaguar XK120s, Ferraris, Maseratis, and Talbot-Lagos will again resonate through the canyons of Northern California as approximately 70 driver teams participate in the longest-running North American salute to Italy's famed Mille Miglia (thousand mile) open road race.

This year's California Mille will celebrate the legacy of the event's founder, Martin Swig, a lifelong car enthusiast who loved nothing more than exploring the backroads of Northern California in one of his beloved Alfa Romeo sports cars. His two sons, David and Howard Swig, both of whom are serious vintage car enthusiasts deeply bitten by the motoring bug, will organize this year's Mille, with the capable assistance of longtime Mille Event Planner Dan Radowicz.

The route will feature a selection of the Mille's most iconic driver's roads and a cross-section of Northern California's stunning scenery - complemented by stops at luxury hotels offering epicurean delights along the way. Starting with the customary free car show in front of San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill on Sunday, April 28th, the Mille will head north early on Monday morning. An overnight stop in Redding will be followed by Day Two's challenging and beautiful drive on the hallowed Highway 36, one of California's driver's roads.

The Mille will return to bucolic Mendocino for its second night on the road, followed by a variety of coastal and inland routes during days three and four with two overnights at Calistoga's delightful Solage Resort.

Entry forms will be available in mid-November and entry will be limited to cars of the type that could have competed in the original Mille Miglia event.

The 2013 California Mille "Tribute to Martin Swig" promises to be one of the best Milles yet, drawing on the influence and enthusiasm of the man who most exemplified the spirit of "Mille Miglia" in the United States.

For general information: 415 479 9940 or info@californiamille.com
Press information: Ron Wren, 415 433 1040 or ronwren@aol.com

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Brescia Boys Reposses MILLE MIGLIA

May 30, 2012

It was just announced that the ACI in Brescia, owners of the Mille Miglia, which for the last five years had been leased out, have decided to resume running the event, which they had previously done so well for many years.
It's unclear whether they will welcome us back into the fold, but we wish them well in any case.

Best wishes from the Amici americani della Mille Miglia (established 1986)

For more information: Office 415- 479-9950.
For press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040

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North American Mille Miglia Tribute Bites The Dust

May 30, 2012

You may recall the dueling press releases last year with our side (the Mille) pointing out that we were the real thing for over twenty years, while the tribute guys effectively called us imposters. Now, only a year later, the following excerpts from an SEC filing by Stratus, the Tribute organizers, suggest the duel is over:

"The Company has suffered losses from operations and without additional capital, currently lacks liquidity to meet its current obligations. The Company had a net loss for 2011 of $15,837,168 and a net loss of $2,478,742 for the three months ended March 31, 2012. As of March 31, 2012, the Company had negative working capital of $5,671,641 and accumulated deficit of $44,541,282. Unless additional financing is obtained, the Company may not be able to continue as a going concern."

"The events we ran in 2010 and 2011 were not profitable and there can be no assurance that future events can be run in a profitable manner. In 2004, we realized $2,554,600 of revenues from events.  There were no revenues from events in 2006 and 2009.  Total revenues of $252,741 were realized from events in 2005, 2007 and 2008, which were derived from smaller-scale, standalone events rather than recurring annual events of a larger scale anticipated in our business plan.  During 2010, we conducted the Santa Barbara Concours d’ Elegance on a limited basis and realized revenues of $40,189 and a gross margin loss of $170,393.  In 2011 we conducted the Santa Barbara Concours d'Elegance with revenues of $197,415 and a gross margin loss of $26,048 and the Mille Miglia North American Tribute with revenues of $59,890 and a gross margin loss of $858,514.   In 2011, ProElite had revenues of $376,751 and a gross margin loss of $159,483."

"Third parties may claim that we infringe their intellectual property, and we could suffer significant litigation or licensing expense as a result.
If intellectual property rights relating to past or future acquisitions are challenged by third parties, we could incur significant costs to defend such rights and/or we could be required to pay license fees to such third parties if they were to prevail in a legal challenge to such intellectual property rights."

"Intellectual Property: Stratus had trademarked many of its currently owned events, however these trademarks have either lapsed or have not been issued such that Stratus has no trademarks active for its current events.  Stratus intends to obtain trademarks for most of its current events and plans to trademark and copyright all new events."

For more information: Office 415- 479-9950.
For press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040

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National Motorists Association receives
$3,800 donation from California Mille

Driving Apparel Fund to Fight Unfair Motoring Laws

May 21, 2012

Dozens of semi-historic hats, jackets, shirts, sweaters and travel bags emblazoned with
the logo of the California Mille--mementos of past drives-- have been sold to motoring
enthusiasts with $3,800 in proceeds going to the National Motorists Association.
The goal: to help the NMA wage its battle for motorists and against predatory
and unfair traffic laws.

“In the California Mille’s 22-year-history of back roads excursions, we’ve
seen our share of speed traps, gotcha red lights and unreasonable traffic
penalties, “said organizer Martin Swig. “This is our way of combatting
these nuisances while making driving safer and more enjoyable. We’re sure
National Motorists Association Director Gary Biller will make good use
of these funds at the organization’s Wausau, Wisconsin, headquarters.”

The National Motorists Association is a driver advocacy nonprofit organization
that promotes:

  • Traffic laws fairly written and reasonably enforced
  • Full due process rights for motorists --- in the courts, on the streets, and in their vehicles
  • Traffic penalties based on sensible standards that differentiate between responsible
    behavior and demonstrated unsafe behavior
  • Reasonable highway user fees assessed for maintaining and improving highway
    infrastructure, not for wasteful overhead or unrelated projects
  • Traffic safety produced by sound engineering solutions, not by arbitrary measures (such
    as speed traps or red-light cameras) designed to generate profits
  • Driver education emphasizing early advanced driving-skill development, both on-road
    and in controlled learning environments

The California Mille is a driver advocacy nonprofit organization that promotes:

  • Honoring Italy’s most-famous open road race, the Mille Miglia.
  • Having fun.

For more information: Office 415- 479-9950.
For press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040

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Photos from the April and May event

May 18, 2012

For general information: Office 415-990-9992
Press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040

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The San Francisco Italian Athletic Club
...invites the California Mille
to enjoy a complimentary welcome drink and enjoy the warm spirit of the city’s Italian community.

April 16, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 11 am - 9 pm, 1630 Stockton Street in North Beach.

Buzz the door to the left where the sign reads MEMBERS ONLY, smile (you’re on camera) and if you look Italian – or not – the door will open.

Show your California Mille name tag for a free drink.

If you need a dinner recommendation ask Lisa, the Club’s events person.
San Francisco Italian Athletic Club

For general information: Office 415-990-9992
Press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040 or

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Historic Apparel Collection to be Offered
at 22nd Annual California Mille
National Motorists Association to Benefit

March 23, 2012

Positioned somewhere between Giorgio Armani and Joseph     A.     Bank is the  California Mille Collection – shirts, jackets, sweaters, bags and hats – “Especially Designed for the Serious Car Collector.”

This unique automotive apparel assemblage was recently discovered by California Mille organizer Martin Swig during his regular semi-decade warehouse cleaning.  Now, all items will be offered at a fraction of their original cost during the California Mille with proceeds benefiting the National Motorists Association.

Each article, emblazoned with the California Mille, Cannonball Classic, La Carrera Nevada or Anti-Football Drive logo, is new and never-worn, and in most cases in the original packaging.  “I guarantee it,” says Swig, borrowing George Zimmer’s memorable Men’s Wearhouse slogan.

Hats range from the classic baseball to timeless and dashing berets. Original cost was $2.95 and up. Each will be offered for 99 cents.

Shirts, jackets and sweaters are in a wide range of sizes and colors. Original costs ranged to $500. Prices have been drastically reduced by up to 70% !

“There are scores of items... maybe hundreds, “says Swig, “dating from the California Mille of 1992. With a little luck and a gently-aggressive retail sales approach we’re hoping to donate several thousand dollars to the National Motorists Association to help in their watch- dog efforts to control ridiculous driving laws, speed traps and red light cameras timed to insure tickets to unsuspecting motorists. “

The California Mille Collection will be on display in the Green Room (registration headquarters) at the Fairmont Hotel from April 28 through the morning of April 30. All Mille drivers and friends are invited to avail themselves of this unique opportunity to acquire one or more clothing collector souvenirs, help a worthy cause – and assist Swig in his warehouse cleaning.

For general information: Office 415-990-9992
Press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040 or

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Sausalito Cars and Coffee

March 7, 2012

The second monthly Sausalito Cars and Coffee rolled up to Poggio Restuarant on a sunny Saturday morning at 8:00 AM.
The variety was broad, as we had hoped. Notable was a Morgan Three-wheel modern recreation from the Northwest. According to its owner, Morgan bought the rights as the basis for their newest hit model. Balancing it was my newest, a ‘37 LaSalle convertible. Sixty-some other cars filled in most all the blanks in between.
Our third monthly gathering will be on 7th April, again 8:00 AM Saturday at Poggio. Bring your Alfa, Porsche, MG, TR (Ferrari or Triumph).  Let’s also see some etceterini......Bristols, Lancias, Facel-Vegas. Also some pre-wars.
Sausalito has agreed to forego parking meter enforcement until 10:00 AM.  We will post at the restaurant entrance a sign indicating the suggested restaurant rendevoux, if you want to take a little drive later in the morning.

For general information: Office 415-990-9992
Press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040 or

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California Gold Country, Lake Tahoe and Historic Nevada
22nd Annual California Mille April 30-May 3

Free Mille Car Show Atop Nob Hill, San Francisco, April 29

February 7, 2012

The quiet back roads of California and Nevada will resonate with the seductive four-cylinder sound of mid-’50s Alfa Giulietta Sprints, the big Blower blast from a ‘30s Bentley and some 65 historic race cars when the 22nd running of the California Mille begins on April 30 in San Francisco.

The California Mille, a salute to Italy’s most famous open road race, the Mille Miglia (thousand mile), brings together cars that could have qualified for the Italian event (Ed. note: Except for a few notable exceptions) that ran from l927-l957--cars from three foreign countries and sixteen U.S. states. The celebration kicks off on Sunday, April 29, with a day-long free car show in front of San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel on Mason Street. Thousands of fans will stroll the closed-off street to meet the drivers, see their cars--and fantasize!

On Monday, April 30, the California will depart Nob Hill at 8:45 AM for picturesque time-capsule towns and barely-known back roads, concluding the event at Solage Calistoga in Sonoma County on
May 4.

The day-by-day plan:

Some 65 historic racecars will be on display on Mason Street between 11 AM and 6 PM. It’s the largest free car show of its kind in America.
Live Italian accordion music will help capture the Mille theme.

With the waving of the flag of Italy, the California Mille will depart for the Golden Gate Bridge, Rio Vista, Walnut Grove and a coffee stop in Locke. After a tour of the last rural Chinese town in America, the Mille will head for Lodi and lunch at the Wine and Roses restaurant. That afternoon, the Mille will take Highway 88 toward Sutter Creek, Lake Tahoe and the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Incline Village, Nevada, for an overnight stay.

The second day of the four-day drive will see the California Mille
heading toward Emerald Bay and South Lake Tahoe, then traversing
395 toward Minden, with a choice of lunch at the celebrated JT Basque restaurant or the equally-celebrated Overland Bar & Basque restaurant in Gardnerville, Nevada. About 2 PM, the Mille will zero their odometers and drive exactly 117.8 miles back to the Hyatt by way of Carson City, Virginia City, the National Motor Museum in Reno, and the Mt. Rose Highway to Incline Village.

Departing northbound the Mille will join Highway 28 to 89 and Truckee, then to Nevada City for coffee and a stroll of the historic district. Highway 20 will take the cars toward Marysville, Sutter and Sacramento River-side park lunch in Colusa. The drive will continue via Williams and Middletown to the Silverado Trail, ending Day 3 at Solage Calistoga.

The final leg of the one-thousand-mile drive starts in Calistoga, follows Highway 128 to Geyersville, over two rusty bridges near the coast, down the spectacular coast on Highway 1 to Jenner with lunch at the Tides Restaurant in Bodega Bay. The coast highway will take the Mille to the Marshall-Petaluma Road, onto Hicks Valley Road, through Chileno Valley Road, into Petaluma, onto the Lakeville Highway, then straight to Solage Calistoga on Highways 116, 121 and 29. The California Mille will conclude its 22nd annual drive with an awards dinner at Solage.

Cars in the 2012 California Mille:

  • 1955 Austin-Healey 100, Stamford, CT
  • 1953 Nash-Healey LeMans, Phoenix, AZ
  • 1957 Volvo 544, Beverly Hills, CA
  • 1956 Jaguar XK140MC fhc, Prescott, AZ
  • 1955 Lancia Aurelia B20GT, Scottsdale, AZ
  • 1956 OSCA MT-4, Wyomissing, PA
  • 1959 Arnolt-Bristol, Shreveport, LA
  • 1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL gullwing, Pasadena, CA
  • 1957 Alfa Romeo 1900CSS, La Quinta, CA
  • 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce, Kailia-Kona, HI
  • 1951 Ferrari 212 Export Sport, Pebble Beach, CA
  • 1953 Siata 208S, San Francisco, CA
  • 1957 Jaguar XK150 dhc, Malibu, CA
  • 1957 AC Bristol Zagato, Portland, OR
  • 1958 Porsche Speedster, New York, NY
  • 1957 Aston-Martin DB2/4 MkIII, Redding, CA
  • 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider, San Rafael, CA
  • 1955 Austin-Healey 100S, Belvedere, CA
  • 1957 Ferrari Special Coachbuilt, Sausalito, CA
  • 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce, Plymouth, WI
  • 1957 Porsche Carrera GT, New York, NY
  • 1940 Buick Roadmaster ,San Rafael, CA
  • 1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce, Piedmont, CA
  • 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 CS, Beverly Hills, CA
  • 1957 Chevrolet Corvette, Carmel Valley, CA
  • 1954 Talbot-Lago Gran Sport T26, Granger, IN
  • 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, San Francisco, CA
  • 1955 Mercedes Benz 300S, Pasadena, CA
  • 1954 Talbot-Lago Gran Sport 4, Muir Beach, CA
  • 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental, Meggen, Switzerland
  • 1956 Ferrari 250GT Boano, Hinsdale, IL
  • 1958 Mercedes Benz 300SL, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1957 Porsche Speedster, Thousand Oaks, CA
  • 1957 AC Aceca - Bristol, Torrance, CA
  • 1954 MG-TD, Stockton, CA
  • 1958 Lancia B24, Sausalito, CA
  • 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900CSS, Beverly Hills, CA
  • 1955 Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta, Kearney, NE
  • 1947 Cisitalia 202 Gran Sport, Charlotte, NC
  • 1956 Jaguar MkVII-M, Hailey, ID
  • 1954 Mercedes Benz Gullwing, San Francisco, CA
  • 1956 Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta, Moorpark, CA
  • 1957 AC Ace-Bristol, Marshall, TX
  • 1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1957 Jaguar XK150 fhc, Westlake Village, CA
  • 1957 Jaguar XK150 fhc, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce, Marina Del Rey, CA
  • 1957 Lancia B20 convertible, St. Petersburg, FL
  • 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster, Encino, CA
  • 1953 Jaguar XK120 ots, Calabasas, CA
  • 1958 Ferrari 250GT Spider, Westlake Village, CA
  • 1957 Porsche 356GT, Newport Beach, CA
  • 1953 Jaguar XK120 fhc, Calabasas, CA
  • 1957 Alfa Romeo 1900CS, Woodside, CA
  • 1961 Mercedes Benz 300SL roadster, Birmingham, AL
  • 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce, Bogota, Colombia
  • 1955 Lancia Aurelia B20S, San Rafael, CA
  • 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce, Mosman Park, W. Australia
  • 1958 Porsche Carrera GT, Naperville, IL
  • 1957 AC Ace-Bristol, Malibu, CA
  • 1957 AC Ace-Bristol, San Francisco, CA
  • 1956 Lancia Aurelia B24, Newport Beach, CA
  • 1935 Lagonda Rapier, Placerville, CA
  • 1936 Ford Aerosport ,San Francisco, CA

The California Mille is presented by Amici americani della Mille Miglia (American Friends of the Mille Miglia), which also stages the January 1st Anti-Football Drive and Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design drive to Monterey. Martin Swig is the organizer of all events.

Sponsors include Chopard, Chubb Collector Car Insurance, the Fairmont Hotel, Bonhams, Keller Estates, KSFO-560 Radio and the San Francisco Examiner.

For general information: Office 415-990-9992
Press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040 or

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A Tidbit Of History

February 6, 2012

In 1986 we established Amici americani della Mille Miglia. The Automobile Club of Brescia, in their official yearbook, published after the 1987 Mille Miglia, was so pleased to see out logo that they devoted two color pages to it.
It is also visible on the 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce lightweight that we ran that year.
In recent years there have been objections to our use of our trademark.
We don't think there's much chance of our arrow, with the prominent USA portion, being mistaken for the classical arrow. We also think its worth noting that for over 20 years, our symbol was widely exposed, and elicited no objections.
In 2014, we will run our 24th California Mille, equaling the number of original Mille Miglia events.

For general information: Office 415-990-9992
Press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040

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The First
Was a Huge Success

February 6, 2012

The first Sausalito Cars & Coffee was held on 4 February. Planned for the first Saturday of each month, from 8 till 10 AM at Poggio, 777 Bridgeway in Sausalito (Calif). The first time was a roaring success. Over sixty  special cars appeared. Our pal, Matt Kelleher snapped these photos. If you are in the area, bring a tasty car on the 3rd of March.

For general information: Office 415-990-9992
Press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040

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A Clarification
The California Mille vs. The Mille Miglia Tribute
July 7, 2011

Many people have asked if there is a relationship between the California Mille and the Mille Miglia Tribute. There is no relationship.

In short:

  • The California Mille is a nonprofit event. The Mille Miglia Tribute is a commercial event.
  • For all its twenty-one years the California Mille has endeavored to preserve the spirit of the original Mille Miglia. The Mille Miglia Tribute has yet to demonstrate its understandingof the Mille Miglia.
  • The California Mille focuses on entries that could have qualifiedfor the Mille Miglia (l927-1957). The Mille Miglia Tribute has recently announced an “encore” classfor newer cars to bolster an apparent lack of interest by the historic motoring community.
  • The California Mille selects interesting back roads that recallthe Italian countryside. The Mille Miglia Tribute designers have apparently never driventhe Mille Miglia or similar events as their route includes traffic-congested highways that cross the San Francisco Peninsula -- not once but twice.

How did this confusion between our two motoring events occur? In the past, the MilleMiglia re-creation and the California Mille embodied the same spirit as the original race. A few years ago, a Genoa lifestyle marketing group called MAC bid more than 1,000,000,000 Euros per year to run the Mille Miglia for five years, through 2012.

MAC licensed Stratus Group (a promotion organization) of Santa Barbara to stage the Mille Miglia Tribute in – of all states – California, where the California Mille is headquartered. An interesting co-incidence. When the Tribute was announced, Stratus anticipated 15,000 applicants from which the group would choose 300 to make the drive. Accepted entries would pay an $8,000 fee. That was the plan.

When too few entries came in, Stratus added a class of car called "Encore". That meant cars built after the 1957 cutoff date became eligible. That also failed to produce entrants, so they added "value-pricing". This involves soliciting clubs to enter from 1 to 25 cars at discounts ranging from 28% to 37%. Draw your own conclusions.

The California Mille does not wish the Tribute ill, but it is sad to see such a proud and historic motoring event corrupted in a quest for cash over values.

Martin Swig
Organizer, The California Mille

Download PDF file of above press release

For general information: Office 415-990-9992
Press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040

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Eleven ”interesting” entries ready to roll in
Art Center’s Pasadena-to-Monterey Drive
August 14-15, 2011

July 6, 2011

New or classic, it doesn’t matter, as long as the car is of “an interesting design.”

That’s the criterion for entries in the first annual Art Center Pasadena- to-Monterey drive to benefit students at the college’s Transportation Design Department. The back roads tour will leave the Art Center’s Hillside Campus at 1700 Lida Street, Pasadena, at 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 14, with cars traveling north some 507 miles to Palmdale, Gorman, Frazier Park, Taft and McKittrick. The drive will arrive at the Paso Robles Inn about 5 PM for the night. The morning of August 15, the drive will continue to Monterey by way of San Miguel, Indian Valley, Coalinga and King City, arriving in time for the weeklong historic races, shows and auctions on the Monterey Peninsula.

To date, eleven drivers will showcase their design-worthy cars, including:

  • Robert Cumberford: Resident of France, Art Center and lifelong car designer,
    and design critic for Automobile Magazine. His car will be announced shortly.
  • Ed Pasini: Las Vegas resident and founder of the No-Frills Iron Bottom
    Motoring Tour. Car to be announced.
  • John Clark: Santa Barbara collector will drive his 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super
    which will be featured at the Concours Italiano.
  • Ron Lee: Pasadena resident and well-known serious car collector. Car to
    be announced.
  • Gary Wales: He’ll bring two spectacular l920s Rolls Royce motorcars.
  • Marshall Roath: Palm Springs resident and Art Center alumnus. Car to be
    be announced.
  • Cory Youngberg: Newport Beach resident will drive a late l950s Lancia
    Appia Berlina.
  • Stewart Reed: Director of the Transportation Design Department of
    Art Center. Car to be announced.
  • Martin Swig: Sausalito resident and organizer of the California Mille
    will choose between his Walter deSilva-designed Audi S5 or his
    Giugiaro designed Subaru SVX.
  • Richard Messer: southern California collector and retired director of the Petersen
    Auto Museum. Car to be announced.

The entry fee is $200 per car with a $1000 tax-deductible donation to Art Center’s Transportation Design Department’s scholarship fund. The drive is sponsored by Chubb Insurance.

For applications and further information go to our event page, or contact: Martin Swig, Amici americani della Mille Miglia at 145 Mitchell Boulevard, San Rafael, CA 94903, mswig@californiamille.com, or 415-479-9950.

For press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040, ronwren@sbcglobal.net

Download PDF file of above press release

For general information: Office 415-990-9992
Press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040

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The 2011 California Mille Goes the Extra Mile – and Then Some – For an Entrant

This year’s California Mille went north . But for Richard Mattei of Normandy Park, Washington, the big adventure was all to the south.

His drive started with a 1942 Alfa Romeo, then a 1957 Porsche 356, then a 1956 Austin-Healey – and ended with a ‘52 Jaguar XK120. In between it was semicontrolled chaos.

“I had a shop in Phoenix completely service my new Austin-Healey and deliver it to Burbank Airport, where I picked it up and headed north,” Richard says. “Almost immediately I noticed the clutch wasn’t right. I could barely get it in gear, and when I did, I couldn’t get it out. Eventually I limped the car to a hotel, and the following day headed north on 101, and then over to 280, to avoid the Friday afternoon traffic.

Highway 280 ends and becomes 19th Avenue in San Francisco just a few miles from the Fairmont Hotel. California Street was packed with traffic, and signals stopped commuters and expecially buses at every block. All stopped – except Richard who yelled to any who would listen: “GET OUT OF THE WAY. I CAN’T STOP!!!”

He made it to the Fairmont Hotel garage where the car quit completely. That night, Mark Ronfeldt worked on the clutch, and by the next morning everything was fixed. Everything – except for the clutch that failed again on a test drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. “Screw it,” said Richard who went to the North Beach Cafe for a dinner that night accepting the fact that the 2011 California Mille would leave without him.

But Plan B was forming. The Alfa wasn’t done in time. Neither was the ’57 Porsche, and now neither was the ‘56 Austin Healey. Maybe his ‘52 Jaguar could make the Mille.

“Who do you know who would go get my Jaguar in Phoenix?" asked Richard of Dan Radowicz, the organizer of the California Mille. "I’ll do it,” said Rick Hutchings, who contacted the Phoenix garage people, hopped in Richard’s truck, headed south, and met them outside of Bakersfield where Mattei’s Jaguar XK120 was waiting.

Then without missing a beat Rick turned around and sped north arriving back in San Francisco Sunday morning just before display time for the cars in front of the Fairmont.

Rick was none the worse for his all-night ordeal.. Richard was a nervous wreck, not knowing when or if he’d have a back up car. “The Jaguar performed beautifully. So did Rick Hutchings,” said Mattei. “The fun of the Mille is the unexpected. I didn’t expect a clutch problem – and I certainly didn’t expect the Mille crew to go the extra mile... or 700 miles – to get me a replacement car. That’s what I love about this event.”

What will Richard Mattei be driving for the 2012 Mille? I think I’ll drive my ‘45 Alfa 6C2500 SS – and make sure I have Rick Hutchings cell number handy just in case.”

Download PDF file of above California Mille press release

Forgeneral information: Office 415-990-9992
Press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040

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21st annual California Mille salutes Italy’s most-famous
race with free Nob Hill car show and 1000-mile tour

70 Historic Race Cars on Display April 24 on Mason Street

The 21st annual running of the California Mille begins with a free preview atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill on Sunday, April 24, with some 70 historic race cars on display from 11 am to 6 pm. The following morning, the cars will depart at 8:30 AM for a four-day, 1000-mile back road adventure that will take them along little-known roads to time-capsule towns, challenging race tracks and a private auto collection.

The Mille (MILL-leh) honors Italy’s famed Mille Miglia (thousand mile) race that ran from Brescia to Rome to Brescia from 1927-1957. Only cars that could have qualified for the Italian event may participate in the California tour--not a race but a demanding drive.

The public is invited to see the cars and meet the drivers on April 24 when cars from Britain, Colombia, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and dozens of U.S. states will be displayed in front of the Fairmont Hotel on Mason Street between California and Sacramento Streets. At 2 PM, Mille organizer Martin Swig will greet auto fans with a presentation of dignitaries and a roving-microphone review of many of the cars being exhibited.

On Monday, April 25, the Mille will exit Mason Street through a special arch, turn right onto California Street and make its way to the Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Tamalpais, Bolinas, Olema, Petaluma entering the Infineon Raceway off Highway 37 for touring laps. The morning drive will conclude with a visit and lunch at a private collection of Mercedes-Benz considered to rival the factory’s own collection in Stuttgart, Germany. That afternoon, the Mille will cover some 50 miles of Highways 116, 121
and 29, end the day at Solage Calistoga.

Tuesday, April 26, will see the Mille heading to Geyserville, Lake Sonoma, Skaggs Springs Road, and Highway 1 wth a lunch stop at Little River Inn, a drive of just over 124 miles. The return trip to Solage Calistoga will take the Mille along Highway 128 toward Cloverdale, along Asti Road
and the Silverado Trail.

Day Three (April 27) will highlight a drive along the Silverado Trail to Winters, Esparto, Williams and Maxwell with a lunch stop and touring laps at Thunderill Race Track . Wednesday afternoon will see the California Mille driving Highway 162, 306, Danley Road, Freshwater, Highway 20 to Middledtown, and returning to Solage Calistoga for an overnight.

The final day of the thousand-mile drive will see the historic racers heading for Guerneville, Cazadero, Fort Ross Road, Meyer’s Grade Road, Highway 1, Bodega Bay, Chileno Valley Road to Wilson Hill Road, Hicks Valley Road, Nicasio Valleyl Road and a lunch stop at the colorful Rancho Nicasio. The Mille’s final 62 miles will take drive toward Fairfax, onto Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, to Bolinas Road to Ridgecrest Boulevard, and Mt. Tamalpais where a commemorative photo will be taken near Pantoll Road. The Mille will then continue down toward Mill Valley (renamed Mille Valley for the day), to Highway 1, l0l north and a final banquet and awards dinner at the Lodge at Sonoma.

For a list of particiapting cars, download the complete press release.

The California Mille is presented by
Chopard Watches, Chubb Insurance, Bonhams auction house, The Fairmont Hotel, The Ironstone Foundation, British Motor Car Distributors, San Francisco Examiner, and KSFO-560.

Download PDF file of above California Mille press release

For more details and to register go to our events page

Forgeneral information: Office 415-990-9992
Press information: Ron Wren 415-433-1040



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Entry is now open for the...
California Mille 2013
April 28 - May 2, 2013

Continuing the Tradition...
The California Mille tribute to Martin Swig
April 28-May 2, 2013
Press Release...
The Anti-Football Drive
January 1, 2013
Press Release...

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Martin Swigisms

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