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California Mille vs. Mille Miglia North America Tribute

There is confusion in the classic car community regarding the California Mille and its association with the new Mille Miglia North America Tribute. We try our best to explain.

The California Mille has been conducted as a 1,000 mile rally in Northern California each spring for the past 21 years. Event founder Martin Swig started the event in honor of Italy’s famed Mille Miglia (thousand mile) race that ran from Brescia to Rome to Brescia from 1927-1957. It has become one of the more prominent historic car events in the States. New for 2011, the California Mille and the Art Center College of Design are collaborating on a tour from Pasadena to Carmel on August 14-15, 2011 to kickoff next month’s Monterey Week. Cars of any year, which are judged to be of significant design merit, are invited.

A new and entirely different rally, the Mille Miglia North America Tribute, will also be staged in California in advance of Monterey Week. The 1,000 mile event, which will start and end in Monterey, will be produced in the spirit of the of the original Mille Miglia in Italy. Event organizer Stratus Media Group, Inc., has been sub-licensed to produce the Mille Miglia North America Tribute by the MAC Group, MEET Communications and San Remo Rally – licensees of the Automobile Club of Brescia – the operator of the Original Mille Miglia in Italy.

To summarize, the California Mille is a time-tested and respected event that honors the original Mille Miglia. It has successfully run every spring for the past 21 years. Its organizers established a new rally–the Art Center Monterey Tour–that will run before Monterey Week. It is open to cars of any year, as long as they are deemed a significant design.

The Mille Miglia North America Tribute is an officially sanctioned rally associated with the original Mille Miglia brand. The event, run in the spirit of its Italian sibling, will also be staged in California in advance of Monterey Week.

Simple enough? Then don’t read the dueling press releases from Mille Miglia organizer MAC Group and California Mille Founder Martin Swig. Or read them and the let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

From Mille Miglia organizer MAC Group:

As previously announced, the first special staging of the Mille Miglia North America Tribute will take place in California, August 14th to 17th, 2011 (www.millemiglianorthamerica.com).

In 2010, MAC Group, Meet Comunicazione, and Sanremorally – organizers of the Historical Revival and sole licensees of the original Mille Miglia brand – signed an agreement with Stratus Media Group Inc (SMDI), making the company the one and only official Sub-licensee of the Mille Miglia brand in the United States authorized to organize the Mille Miglia North America Tribute. Other events, such as the California Mille – an event which has not been authorised by the Automobile Club Brescia, owners of the Mille Miglia brand who object to the organisation of such events – which make reference to the Mille Miglia, and/or any Tributes resembling the Mille Miglia are therefore to be considered unofficial.

The Event will take place just a few days before the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance and the Historic Automotive weekend that will mark a perfect close to an extraordinary week devoted to classic cars and the hundreds of thousands of spectators, enthusiasts, and collectors in attendance.

The Mille Miglia Tribute in the USA – the first official Event staged abroad to be recognized by the Automobile Club of Brescia (owner of the Mille Miglia brand) – will unwind over a route of roughly 1000 miles, aiming to evoke the spirit of the original “corsa più bella del mondo” (‘most beautiful race in the world’) on the picturesque roads of the Californian coast and through the unique scenery of Carmel, Santa Barbara, and Napa Valley. The charming locations chosen along the route, together with the prestigious accommodations selected for the overnight stays, will allow all participants and enthusiasts to experience the exclusivity, passion, and spirit of the Freccia Rossa (Red Arrow) on US soil.

Underscoring its recognition by and official ties to the original Italian race, the Tribute’s participants will include Giordano Mozzi, winner of the most recent Historical Revival of the Mille Miglia on board a 1933 Aston Martin Le Mans. The Mille Miglia Tribute in the USA reinforces the Freccia Rossa brand’s success in the world at large, while offering an excellent, first-time opportunity for those who have already participated in the Italian race to meet again and for new participants to present their own candidacy for the 2012 Event, whose first exclusive announcements will be made on the occasion of the Tribute itself.

What’s more, during the US Event, five participants – whose cars present the necessary requirements for eligibility – will be drawn by lottery to register and participate in the next staging of the Historical Re-enactment of the Mille Miglia in Italy, in May 2012.

From California Mille Founder Martin Swig:

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 non-profit 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 understanding of the Mille Miglia.
  • The California Mille focuses on entries that could have qualified for the Mille Miglia (1927-1957).
  • The Mille Miglia Tribute has recently announced an “encore” class for newer cars to bolster an apparent lack of interest by the historic motoring community.
  • The California Mille selects interesting back roads that recall the Italian countryside.
  • The Mille Miglia Tribute designers have apparently never driven the 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 Mille Miglia 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 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 coincidence.

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.

As of today, “value pricing” has kicked in with discounts offered to car clubs who can produce cars—whether reflective of the original event or not.

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.

[Source: MAC Group; California Mille; photo credit: Bob Ross]

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    The California Mille is the product of a passion for driving interesting, historic cars on great roads with good friends. Martin Swig has provided this joyful combination for 21 years. Stratus Media Group, the promoters of the Mille Miglia Tribute, is a for profit “lifestyle marketing company.”  None of their officers or employees have ever driven in any Mille type event, Stratus qualified for the job of running the California event by promising the MAC group a mid six figure licensing fee rather than showing any expertise or interest in the car hobby.

  2. Anonymous says

    The California Mille is the product of a passion for driving interesting, historic cars on great roads with good friends. Martin Swig has provided this joyful combination for 21 years. Stratus Media Group, the promoters of the Mille Miglia Tribute, is a for profit “lifestyle marketing company.”  None of their officers or employees have ever driven in any Mille type event, Stratus qualified for the job of running the California event by promising the MAC group a mid six figure licensing fee rather than showing any expertise or interest in the car hobby.

    • DinoFan says

      Right on Taruffi. 

      Martin Swig has built an event based upon the right principles – passion for the automobile and Mille Miglia – and MAC / Stratus are doing it for the dollar. It should be interesting to see how this shakes out over the next couple years, especially when the MAC group contract is up for renewal with the Mille Miglia keepers. 

  3. Vargas Colombia says

    Martin Swig has 21 years of prooven success in the US. The other “after the money” Stratus group have nothing to show. On the other hand is the “after the money” Stratus Group saying that you must first run the August event in order to have a chance to get admitted to the  original Mille Miglia event in Brescia ? If you have an elligible car and 25K you rather go to Brescia than to the august tribute !!!! 

  4. Monte says

    There is no finer event than Martin Swig’s (and his crew) production of the California Mille.
    I guess the Brescia Crowd got a little greedy and did not think it through and that will cost them some.

    Go Martin!

  5. christopher gush says

    I think Martin brings up a valid point.  It would have been in MAC’s best interest to at least co-author this event with Martin, given the institutional memory his organization maintains and the immense loyalty of his participants.   
    MAC’s actions exemplify arrogance at best. What were they thinking.? 

  6. Toby Baly says

    As below I was involved in the first several years of the CA Mille with Martin, having known him from vintage racing circles for years before.
    I know of no other guy who is such a gentleman and who truly has gas in his veins and just wants things to run right and be such an outstanding event that it has been for the 21 years running with some other offshoots here and there.  The money he gathered went for the best hotels, great meals and wine and camaraderie which I was lucky to share.
    This isn’t the only instance of money grubbing going on – I live up near Reno and recently there were attempts to take over the Hot August Nights event and move it to Long Beach, CA.  All in the name of the CEO of the event who had dollar signs in his eyes and not the hundreds of volunteers that have made HAN such a great success for over 20 years.  And I am hearing rumblings that the Monterey Sports Car “Reunion” (nee Monterey Historics) are going down the same hole.

    Martin – You the Man!

    All the best,
    TBaly

  7. JFont29118 says

    There can be little doubt that Martin Swig’s “California Mille” best captures the true spirit of the original Mille Miglia. He has driven in the Italian event, the “Mille Miglia Storica” some 20 times and understands the passion and flavor that go into it better than anyone. Keep the dream alive, Martin!

  8. says

    I have enjoyed motoring events with Martin since going to CSRG races with him in the late 1970’s.
    We have driven years of miles alongside, sometimes in a dice, sometimes in the same motorcar, and always with great memories remaining. The California Mille (Martin’s) is the driver’s run. Great roads, great cars, great people. Not for everyone; See you down the road again Martin!

  9. Anonymous says

    On Friday, July 15th, the MAC Mille Miglia website announced a change of dates for the “Mille Tribute” to October 25-29 from the previously announced August 14-17. The item on their website was titled “Shift Evolves Tradition,” whatever that means. A new route map was also published showing the Start/Finish to be in Santa Barbara.   Sounds like they pulled the plug for a number of reasons, more than likely including a lack of entrants.
      

  10. Andrewgtv says

    After having suffered through a MAC events ‘organised’ event at the Alfa 100th Anniversary do in Milan I would treat any event with their name attached to it with extreme caution…

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