More than 65 historic race cars will salute Italy’s famed Mille Miglia in the 17th running of the California Mille April 29-May 3, 2007.

The four-day, 1000-mile event begins Sunday atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill with the largest free car show of its kind in north America. Historic Alfa Romeos, Porsches, Ferraris and Jaguars will be among vintage race cars that could have qualified for the famed Italian Mille Miglia (thousand mile) that ran from 1927-1957.

Cars will be lined up by year along both sides of Mason Street in front of the Fairmont Hotel from 11 AM-6 PM. The public is invited to meet the drivers and see the cars. In addition scores of classic luxury cars that could have graced the entrance to the Fairmont from its turn of the century beginning will be on display around Huntington Park, from California to Taylor to Sacramento Streets.

On Monday morning, April 30, the waving of Italy’s green, white and red flag at the Partenza (departure) arch will signal the beginning of the Mille, with cars driving west on California Street to the Golden Gate Bridge and north to Willows, Eureka, Little River and Sonoma, where the tour will end on Thursday with an awards banquet.

Two surprise entries will highlight the 2007 Mille, according to organizer Martin Swig. “We’ll see a 1931 Plymouth, 4-cylinder sedan, an exact replica of the one that set an endurance record in 1931 with a San Francisco-New York -San Francisco nonstop dash of 132 hours and 9 minutes, averaging 48 miles per hour. The famed Blue Train Bentley, that challenged and beat the Cannes -Calais Le Train Bleue, managed just 43 miles per hour over a much shorter route in 1931.

“In addition , the Mille will feature a 1953 Fiat 1100 sedan, like the Racer-for-the-Day, family-sedans that ran in the Mille Miglia,” revealed Swig. “These sporty little Fiats, with just 36 hp. and a top speed of 75 miles per hour, embodied Italian sports car breeding, and aced mountain curves and straight-aways with the best of them.”

Five California Mille entrants, which will be judged “best of the best”, will journey to southern California later in the year, to be placed on display at the Art Center College of Design hill campus in Pasadena. “This is an important first for the Mille,” said Swig, “and a very high honor.

Our winners will take their place alongside a handful of cars selected by the College as exemplifying extraordinary design qualities. In their behalf the California Mille will make a $5,000 donation to the College and become a Patron of this world-renowned design institution.”

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