Photographer: Mike Gilger

In 3 days and 10 cars (and a few boats and bathing suits), 30 friends cover 1,100 Michigan miles in a new take on classic road rallies.

Michigan-born friends Ben Bator and Matt Ferrel grew up taking a certain sort of vacation. “You take 75 north to your exit, go to your cottage and then you don’t leave that area. You just get to your destination and stay,” Ben says. Growing up, it was a great trip. But not really a great take-in-the-scenery road trip.

Not like the Mille Miglia (that’s 1,000 miles in Italian). The epic road rally began in 1927, when bored Count Aymo Maggi invited a few Porsche- and Ferrari-driving associates to race him over 1,000 miles of Italian countryside. The tradition continues today in a noncompetitive fashion—vintage Italian touring cars required.

Ben says, “We thought, What if we could do that in a way that catered to our friends who didn’t necessarily have three vintage Porsches, but had the same interests?” In 2012, he and Matt planned their first 1,000-ish-mile Michigan-crossing Mille Mitten, hitting public high points (Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore swims, Mackinac Bridge crossings) as well as homes and hideaways. They invited 25 friends to join them (based on personality, not vehicle), and the Mille Mitten was born.

You don’t have to wait for Ben and Matt to invite you to their (nonracing) road rally to experience a Mille. Follow their adventures at, or design your own using their insight. Ready to rally?

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