The Mille Mitten, founded in 2012 by Matt Ferrel and Ben Bator, is a 1,000+ mile road rally that was inspired by Italy’s Mille Miglia. Lapping the state of Michigan in three days, The Mille Mitten is a grand tour of Michigan. This year, Wolverine partnered with The Mille Mitten allowing our boots a chance to travel over 1,000 miles of their home state. Continue reading to learn more about their journey and the inspiring team behind the project.
Mille 5 Crew on a boat cruise of the Pictured Rocks – photo by Mike Gilger
“We wanted a trip that celebrated great cars on great roads. We wanted to showcase all of the sights and to create memories in once-in-a-lifetime locales. It’s an experience that’s impossible to replicate, but we try to top it every year anyway. Our goal is to create fans of Michigan each year and tell a more complete story of what this beautiful state has to offer.” –Matt Ferrel
Eli Sussman & Jamie Ferrel cruising down I-75 – photo by Sam Sklar
Every year, Matt and Ben invite a group of soon-to-be friends to take part in the 3 day rally and view Michigan’s sites through their eyes and iPhone lenses. This year marks the fifth MilleMitten tour and the most extensive tour yet, covering the whole state from top to bottom, left to right. The tour launched Thursday night in Corktown, Detroit where attendees loaded up in 7 beautiful Cascadas provided by Buick. After announcing the rules and route for the night, the cars lined up, rev’ed their engines, and began their journey heading north.
Day 1 began on East Twin Lake and continued across The Mighty Mack and into the Upper Peninsula. The first stop of the day was the Tahquamenon Falls. From there, they toured across northern Michigan traveling the shores of Lake Superior and ending in Munising where they boarded a boat for a sunset tour of the beautiful Pictured Rocks.
Upper Tahquamenon Falls – photo by Sam Sklar
The second day of the tour began with a stop at Kitchi Kipi, aka Big Spring. From there, the group traveled down to Highway 2 where they traveled along the northern shore of Lake Michigan. After traveling back over the bridge and regrouping in Cross Village, the group made their way down the Tunnel of Trees. “This, from a driver’s perspective, is one of the most enjoyable roads of the trip,” says Matt.
Fog over Kitchi Kipi (Big Spring) – photo by Zach Allia
The tour continued through the ‘Up North’ towns of Petosky, Charlevoix, and Elk Rapids and ended the day in Northport. The private residence where they stayed, Chetonka, is home to Michael Chetcuti and Kyle Evan who have hosted the Mille Mitten crew in the past. Chetonka is often the origin of the fondest memories for the Mille Mitten travelers.
On the final day, the group traveled south on M-22 to Pyramid Point and their Secret Beach.
Sunday at The Secret Beach – photo by Matt Tukel
“It’s important to make time to relax and enjoy the lakes. We’re moving a lot on this weekend but it’s these stops that help make this tour what it is.” -Matt Ferrel
US-2 Beach Stop in the Upper Peninsula – photo by Sam Sklar
From their secret beach spot, they continued down to their favorite western turnout, Arcadia Scenic Turnout. “This place is special because for those non-native Michiganders, you get an understanding of the size and scale of the Great Lakes and how amazing they are,” explains Matt. Upon returning to Detroit, the group ended their journey with a farewell dinner with carry-out Lafayette Coney where they shared stories, photos, and said their final goodbyes.
Quick stop on M-22 – photo by Mike Gilger
When asked why Mille Mitten wanted to partner with Wolverine, Matt said the Michigan connection was obvious and immediate.
“Our core mission is to showcase what the state has to offer, and Wolverine is such a pillar to what makes Michigan beautiful and interesting. Providing attendees with a ‘Michigan’ experience, geographic or otherwise, is what allows us to tell the full story, and that most certainly includes the wares from our state.” -Matt Ferrel
Pictured Rocks by boat in 1000 Mile Boots – photo by Zach Allia
Another connection considered was the ‘1000 mile’ concepts in both Mille Mitten and Wolverine. “In our eyes, to really understand a place/state/region, you need to put time and distance towards it. Mille is Italian for 1000, and our whole concept of the tour is one thousand miles drive in Michigan (this year was 1,200 but whose counting!). Wolverine’s boots and bags represent a similar idea from our perspective,” Says Matt.
“Traveling, hiking, walking one thousand miles in these boots allows you to see the full story, provides you the full perspective of whatever you’re exploring. These boots are meant for exploration, and that’s just what we intend to do in them.” -Matt Ferrel
Exploring the lakeshore in Leelanau Peninsula – photo by Mike Gilger
[Cover photo by Sam Sklar]