Santa Barbara, California, was treated to a taste of Italy in October, as two major classic motorsports events took over the destination city. The inaugural Mille Miglia North America Tribute, a three-day, 1,000-mile open road adventure, embarked from Santa Barbara on Wednesday, October 26, and cruised through Monterey, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Cambria, returning to Santa Barbara on Friday, October 28. Following the weeklong MMNAT driving events, the 25th Santa Barbara Concours d’Elegance was held at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club on Saturday and Sunday.
Hagerty showcased “Operation Ignite!” during the Santa Barbara Concours d’Elegance, giving kids the chance to see classic automobiles up close through the Youth Judging program. Led by an adult guide, the youths learned the basics of judging while taking a look at select vehicles, interacting with owners and acquiring facts and histories of each vehicle.
Considered “the world’s greatest road race” and a truly exceptional occasion for automotive aficionados, the Mille Miglia has long served as a symbol of Italy. The race has changed over the course of time, yet the tradition, sport and style of the event remain. Today, the evolving culture of the Mille Miglia is celebrated worldwide and now, for the first time, in North America.
This year, the 84-year-old spirit of the Italian “Red Arrow” charted a new course in the famous Golden State. Abiding by the elite standards set by the Italian Mille Miglia, the MMNAT featured European and American vehicles manufactured between 1927 and 1957. Participating MMNAT vehicles included Ferrari, Austin-Healey, Mercedes and Alfa Romeo, among others. All participating MMNAT vehicles also were displayed during the Concours d’Elegance on Saturday to commemorate the inaugural event.
The 25th Santa Barbara Concours d’Elegance celebrated its milestone anniversary at Polo Fields with some of the most prestigious automotive and luxury brands. Weekend festivities also included the second annual Vino d’Elegance, featuring tastings from some of California’s finest wineries, exclusive cooking demonstrations from “Hell’s Kitchen” Chef Scott Liebfried, and book signings by author of the best-selling novel Sideways and the recently released Vertical, Rex Pickett.
Andy Granatelli, Mr. Indy 500, returned as the Grand Marshal, as did Ed Lucas, the “Voice of the Concours,” serving as Master of Ceremonies. Other notable automotive dignitaries included Jim Wangers, regarded as the “Godfather of the GTO,” and Alain Clenet, founder of Santa Barbara-based Clenet Coachworks, was present on the Polo fields to commemorate the 35th Anniversary of the Clenet Club.
Proceeds from vehicle entry fees and Vino d’Elegance ticket sales benefited the United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County. The Santa Barbara Chapter of UNICO also was in attendance offering authentic Italian dishes to raise money for the local Italian-American community.