I participated in my first California Mille in 1992.

I had just returned from driving in the 1991 Italian recreation of the event. Segments were carefully timed and you were scored to the 1/1000th of a second. While I enjoyed the event, I despised having my 1947 750cc Siata forced to march in lockstep with a stopwatch rather than travel at its own natural speed.

When the founder and organizer of the California Mille, Martin Swig, told me there were no timed sections on his event, and that we were free to start when we wished, I was delighted. Aside from the route instructions, the only info we got was, “Lunch will be served at the Ferndale Café from noon until two. Be there if you want some.”

Now, 29 years later, SCM was putting on its own 1,000-mile rally. What it had in common with the Cal Mille is that there were no timed sections. This is a tour, not a race or a TSD event.

This year’s SCM 1000 was crafted under the extraordinary challenges created by COVID-19. We postponed it one year, then developed route and dining plans that balanced the excitement of being on the open road with safety.

There will be an article about the tour in an upcoming issue of the magazine, where the various key personnel will be given the credit they are due. Suffice to say that Tour Director Neil d’Autremont and emcee John Nikas did a marvelous job stitching the event together and making sure that everyone involved enjoyed themselves.

While the theme this year was British cars built prior to 1975, there were also Porsches and Alfas and Maseratis in the field. I drove the SCM 1971 Jaguar V12 E-type. While not a “sports car” like the earlier cars 6-cylinder, it was a magnificent machine for gobbling up the miles. If anything, the powerful engine exposed the weaknesses of the 50-year-old brakes and suspension.

Often, I found myself coming into a 45-mph turn at nearly double that speed and had to cleverly find ways to both keep the car on the road and navigate the turn.

Our route was a tour de force of Oregon, with a hub and spoke design that had us back at the Doubletree each evening. Our “innkeepers” and masters of our meals were Tim and Mandy Ashcroft. They did a terrific job of setting us up in different restaurants each night. (Recall, this was all planned pre-pandemic, when banquet rooms were not to be part of the equation.)

Breakdowns were few, and the support crew from Vintage Underground in Eugene, OR, and Hagerty Roadside scooped everyone up and moved them along.

Even better than the roads were the friendships and camaraderie that developed over the five days. There was a universal sense that we were all glad to be back on the road. After over a year of isolation, we were once again allowing our classic cars to do what they do best, which is create memories.

The next SCM event will be our SCM 1000 Modern AMG Invitational next June, where instead of “classic” cars there will be 45 high-performance AMG machines. The only AMG-only touring event in the world, half the 45 available slots have already been filled. We welcome the support of AMG, the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center and our partnerships with The Star, America’s Automotive Trust and Avants. Visit www.SCM1000.com for more information.

The theme for next year’s SCM 1000 Classic will be Italian cars built before 1975. As always, other marques are accepted by application, and SCM Members and SCM 1000 alumni are given preference. The dates for next year’s SCM 1000 Classic are tentatively set for July 12–17. Again, watch the website for details.

We intend to spend our week based around the Oregon coast and Columbia Gorge next year, with stops ranging from Astoria to Cannon Beach to Timberline Lodge to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum in Hood River, OR.

We are adding an extra day to the tour. We will offer a variety of driving and non-driving options that day for those who just want a day off. For instance, there are terrific whitewater rafting options on the Salmon River. The route will also be hub and spoke, returning to the host hotel each evening. Our tour directors are already busily crafting scenic and challenging routes.

I was so pleased to be out and driving. And even more pleased that my Jaguar had fabulous a/c that kept the interior of the car ice cold in the blistering summer heat.

My thanks again to the entire SCM 1000 team that made this possible, from the art department that created the route book to the crew putting out signs in the morning to guide participants through difficult bits of the route.

I hope we see you next summer.


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