This week, our esteemed Road Warrior Howard Swig is at the 2011 California Mille, a four-day, 1000-mile tour through the Golden State. The event was founded by Howard’s father, Martin, but Howard’s not just there to watch—he and his brother are piloting a 1959 Lancia Appia in the event. Below, his first dispatch from the field.
Day 1 of the California Mille departed from San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill, concluding in the heart of Northern California’s Wine Country in the town of Calistoga. The 70 cars in the field completed the roughly 200-mile day with very few mechanical failures. Normally, the British entries are the ones leaving a trail of parts along the scenic backroads, but this time, it was a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster that suffered a sheared bolt in its fuel filter assembly. Its driver was briefly stranded on the side of the road, but managed to pass the time by enjoying gorgeous views. A mid-day stop at Infineon Raceway, complete with spirited touring laps, was followed by a back road run to Calistoga, concluding with a glass of California’s finest Chardonnay at our overnight stop.
Our 1959 Lancia Appia Pininfarina coupe got off to a trouble-free–if leisurely–start, relying on every one of its 53 hp to pull us up the demanding grades. With its tiny 1100cc engine, the Appia really stresses the importance of maintaining momentum at all costs! The oldest car in the field is a 1925 Lancia Lambda, also powered by a 4-cylinder engine in a “V” configuration. At the time, critics dismissed Lancia’s decision to produce V-4 engines, saying it was doomed to fail. (History has been much kinder, calling the Lambda one of the most advanced cars of its day.) With both Lancias arriving under their own power in glorious Calistoga in time for a fabulous sunset, it seems we proved the critics wrong!Tags: 2011 California Mille, Car Culture |