Tom and Gwen Price in their 1953 Jaguar C-Type.
Tom and Gwen Price in their 1953 Jaguar C-Type.

California Mille 2014 – Report and Photos

Report by Dennis Gray | Photos by author and Bob Ross

The 2014 California Mille was staged April 27th to May 1st on the challenging back roads of Northern California. The four-day, 1,000-mile rally continued its long tradition of spirited driving in historic sports cars on the twisty and picturesque roads for which they were intended. The rally celebrates Italy’s Mille Miglia race that ran from Brescia to Rome to Brescia from 1927-1957. Cars that could have qualified for the original event are eligible for entry in the California Mille.

The California Mille was founded by 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.

As always, the 2014 running of the California Mille started with the customary free car show on Sunday, April 27th in front of San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. Italian Consul General Mauro Battocchi welcomed fans on behalf of his nation, offering historic insight into the original Mille Miglia. During the opening day festivities, the Swig brothers walked around the show to highlight the many unusual and significant automobiles that ranged from a 1927 Bentley 6.5-Liter Le Mans and 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Pinin Farina Cabriolet Series I to a great selection of Alfa Romeos, Jaguars, Porsches and other vehicles.

Further notable entrants at this year’s rally included a 1952 Tojeiro Roadster; 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900CSS; 1953 Siata 208S; 1957 AC Ace Bristol Zagato; 1957 and 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de Frances; 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder; 1953 Jaguar C-Type; 1957 Maserati 200si; 1939 Jaguar SS-100; 1951 Allard K2; 1949 Healey Silverstone and 1957 Kurtis Kraft 500KK; among others.

On Monday, April 28, the California Mille headed north to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, then motored east to Lodi for lunch at the Wine and Roses Restaurant. That afternoon, the Mille left the Central Valley driving to the west shore of Lake Tahoe, with an overnight at the Resort at Squaw Creek in Olympic Valley.

Day 2, April 29, the California Mille headed north into the picturesque and little-known Gold Lake region where drivers did their best to 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 journeyed down the western slope of the Sierra with the Mille spending the night at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento.

Day 3, April 30, the Mille classics cruised along the banks of the Sacramento River, passing through the 19th century Chinese-designed town of Locke, then driving west to the Napa Valley wine country for lunch. Continuing westward, the Mille ambled through rarely-traveled back roads ending the day at Cavallo Point for the first of two nights at this San Francisco Bay-front resort.

On May 1, the final day, the California Mille climbed 2500 feet to the near top of Mt. Tamalpais, the highest point in Marin County, smiled for a commemorative group photo, then motored north for lunch in the village of Nicasio, wandered along the Pacific Coast to Occidental, then turned south for the run back to Sausalito and the final night’s awards banquet at Cavallo Point.

Similar to 2011, 2012 and 2013, photographers Dennis Gray and Bob Ross also documented the 2014 California Mille, offering the following picture gallery that highlights the strong field of entrants and wonderful views found in Northern California. We split up Dennis and Bob’s photos into two galleries. The first gallery starting below features our favorite images, all displayed in the full-width view of Sports Car Digest, while the second gallery can be found on the last page of the article and gives a comprehensive view of all the photographs.

California Mille 2014 – Featured Photo Gallery

Morning sun sets off the waving Italian flag as the next car, the 1928 Bentley 4.5 Vanden Plas starts the Mille.
Morning sun sets off the waving Italian flag as the 1928 Bentley 4.5 Vanden Plas starts the Mille.
1939 Jaguar SS-100 team.
1939 Jaguar SS-100 team.
The Mittler brothers unwrap their 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder.
The Mittler Brothers unwrap their 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder.
Robert Reed pulls the 1929 Bentley out for the start.
Robert Reed pulls the 1929 Bentley out for the start.

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You need these goggles to pilot a 1929 Bentley.
You need these goggles to pilot a 1929 Bentley.
Porsche 550 Spyder.
Porsche 550 Spyder.
Porsche 356 in front of Fairmont Hotel
Porsche 356 in front of Fairmont Hotel
Healey Silverstone team.
Healey Silverstone team.

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Show Comments (5)

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  1. Really great account and photos — what an event! As the author of, “The Spyder California – A Ferrari of Particular Distinction,” I would be very interested in knowing the chassis number of the white, LWB California.

    Many thanks for such a terrific presentation.

  2. Wow!!! From the East Coast, the wonderful coverage is almost as good as being there, sans the cold of course. Martin’s legacy wonderfully lives on. He is of course dearly missed by all of us, however the sons will continue the tradition I’m sure.

    Hope to attend next year with something in my collection.

    Thanks for sharing this terrific and fun event, and all the great photos. Excellent!!!

  3. I have to say that the Swigs did a FANTASTIC job with the rally- the route was simply amazing, the accommodations world class and the food was great. The car guys (and gals) in attendance were the most down to earth types- always friendly and with nothing more than the enjoyment of the cars and the event on their minds. Met some really super people who I intend to keep in touch with.

    As a Florida boy used to the flat lands of the Orange Grove State- I felt honored and privileged to have the opportunity to participate in the 24th running of this event over some of the most amazing roads you could imagine. Our lowly Alfa was a great car for the event and the feeling of family and the quick friendships made by the shared experience is something I will not soon forget. Absolutely amazing! Bouncing along over the levies adjoining the Sacramento River, at legal speeds of course- wink-wink- or dicing up the switchbacks to Squaw Valley, with snow still on the ground- simply beyond words! If you get a chance to do this event- take it- one more thing off my personal bucket list for sure!