Photos and captions by Dennis Gray
The California Mille was conceived after organizer Martin Swig drove the revived Mille Miglia from Brescia to Rome to Brescia in l982 in his 1955 Alfa Romeo 1900 Zagato. “Being a part of this historic event got my motoring juices flowing,” said Swig, who persuaded the Italian Mille organizers to authorize an American version of their drive—not as a race but as a fast tour. “Northern California looks more Italian that Italy,” says Swig, “and it didn’t take much thought to realize that our state was perfect for the re-creation of a great motoring event.”
Since then, the California Mille drive heads north or south from San Francisco with the objective of discovering little-known roads, time-capsule towns and the best dining available. This year’s event, the 20th anniversary Mille, was no different, as the rally went as far north as Ferndale, with overnight stops in Calistoga and Mendocino. Lunch stops included the Nickel & Nickel Winery in Napa Valley, the Boonville Hotel in Anderson Valley and the Victorian Inn in Ferndale.
As always, the California Mille departs San Francisco bright and early from its traditional starting line at the famed Fairmont Hotel, located atop Nob Hill. We convinced photographer Dennis Gray to made the arduous one block walk from his home in San Francisco to document the early morning activity.
Shot in the early morning dew, Gray’s images include parked shots in front of the hotel and the rally start under the Italian flag. Outside of the wonderful selection of Italian cars, entrants at the 2010 California Mille run included two of the five Allard J2X Oldsmobiles, Zagato-bodied AC Ace Bristol, Bentley 4.5 litre Vanden Plas Tourer, Talbot-Lago T26, BMW 328 and several Mercedes-Benz and Porsches.
Early Morning at 2010 California Mille – Photo Gallery (click image for larger photo and description)
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[Source: Dennis Gray]