California Mille - Tales From the Road
This year I was lucky enough to be chosen to head-up our sponsorship at the California Mille which took place from April 24th through the 28th. This year's event covered 1,000 miles of Northern California roads which weaved in and out of forests, down to the coast, and into the central valley of the State. Being that I grew up on the relatively flat part of the East Cost, I was blown away at the scenery and ultra-remote places where perfectly winding pavement was put down. Throw 66 vintage cars with fearless drivers into this setting and you undoubtedly have a recipe for an adventure.
My colleague, Bill Crowley, and I drove a nondescript mini-van behind the pack of classic cars with the purpose of providing roadside support to whomever needed it. Supplies on board included road flares, full set of wrenches/sockets, pliers, paper towels, few quarts of oil, fix-a-flat, and chocolate chip cookies. We need not to wait long until we were tapped to provide a helping hand.
Seeing all these vintage cars was a little intimidating. My knowledge of mechanics has been built over about 20 years of tinkering with American Muscle cars, motorcycles, and modern cars (as needed of course). This was all about to be put to the test and I wasn't sure if small foreign cars from the 30's through the 50's would be easy fixes for me. There was no time for any doubt - I found myself under the hood of a 50's Jaguar who's throttle linkage had become undone. Once I got past the fear, it became apparent that these cars were a marvel of engineering and that their constructors had built the cars with consideration to both driveablility and ease of repair. The throttle linkage was quickly fixed with the proper size bolt, a little thread locker, and a handshake with the owner. The repairs continued.
We moved on through the week and got our hands on all types of cars with all types of issues. We addressed things such as leaking cooling systems, carburetor floats sinking full of gas, clogged fuel filters, dead batteries, flat tires, etc.. Simple stuff right? Sure is, and it's fun work too. While talking with some of the owners, we learned that a little attention and the odd minor fix was always needed when these cars were new as well. It didn't make the cars junk, it made them an experience. It forced the driver to know a little more about what they were wheeling around in beyond the cruise control and cup holder. At last, I had found the "motoring experience" I had heard so many talk about before.
The California Mille captures the "motoring experience" and packages it into a week-long format where men and their machines can all ride together - like it was. Seeing these cars make the run was impressive. Being sent on the trip was a privilege and we are already counting the days until we are back again.
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