Enzo Ferrari, a guy that knows a little about cars and racing, calls it the “world’s greatest road race.”
That race is coming to Half Moon Bay this Thursday when vintage car aficionados will have a chance to experience it — or at least a close replica.
Dozens of drivers will bring European and American motorcars manufactured between 1927-1957 into town to pay homage to the event. You'll see Alfa Romeos, Austin-Healeys, and Ferraris.
"There about 40 cars involved in the event, about 23 or 24 very specific to the Mille Miglia," says Jeremy Cable, vice-president of motorsports for the Stratus Media Group, the major promoter of the event.
Gioreano Mozzi, winner of last year's Italian race, will be one of the drivers.
"It's a wonderful experience to include certain parts of the United States, especially the West Coast," says Cable. "That's kind of one of the goals of Mille Miglia, to do these unique one-of-a-kind things, over and over, around the world."
The actual Italian Mille Miglia event is an open-road endurance race; from 1927 to 1957, it was a speed race focused on drivers and the challenges they faced. Today, Mille Miglia continues, using yesterday's cars on today's roads. In 2010, over 4 million people lined up on Italian roads to see the cars.
The U.S. tribute will wind its way across the traditional thousand miles (“mille
miglia” in Italian), departing from Santa Barbara the morning of Wednesday, October 26, make its way north through Carmel, Half Moon Bay and San Francisco, and return to Santa Barbara on Friday, October 28 after overnight stops in Monterey both Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
"It's meant to be a challenging drive, to experience the vehicles on the types of roads that they would have been driving on when they were built," Cable says. "More than 95% of the route they'll be driving on was built between the 1920's and the 1950's."
The morning caravan heading into Half Moon Bay October 27 will come up the coast from Santa Cruz on Highway 9, follow Highway 35/Skyline Blvd, then connect to Highway 92 and pass through town about 8:30 a.m. The group will continue driving north, turn around in Stinson Beach, and arrive here for lunch, expected between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Why Half Moon Bay?
"It's a beautiful spot, quiet, and kind of out of the way," says Cable. "It's hard to get a setting like that, to get a spot where you can actually go out there and sit on the cliffs, and have all the availability to let the vehicles come and go."
Participants in the U.S. tribute will have an an opportunity to enter the actual Mille Miglia in Italy, held from May 17 to 20, 2012.
In subsequent years, tributes to the race will also be held in Australia, the Middle East and China. This year's California tour is the first of a world branding effort by Mille Miglia.