July 2011

The Season of the Road

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Buzzing like a multi-colored swarm of bees, the cars of the California Mille cruised through Bodega Bay on California Highway One. It was the morning of day four, and Wendie and I had pulled over for a quick espresso and to stretch our legs.

This was the 21st running of the Mille, an event created to pay homage to the original Mille Miglia Storico in Italy. I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of this event more than a dozen times, and each one seems like the best yet.

The roads are some of Northern California’s most challenging, and are the same two-lane highways I drove in my 1963 Alfa Giulia Spider Normale more than 40 years ago. I had two friends with Giulietta Spiders then, and our cars shared one thing—cheapo exhaust systems each with a single glass-pack muffler.

We spent our time chasing each other like hounds on a hunt, making huge noises from our tiny engines, screeching our skinny tires as we proudly went 40 mph around turns marked 25, and all-too-often limping home to San Francisco as our home-built (read that as done inexpensively and amateurishly) drivetrains suffered one sort of failure or another.