Historic Motoring Around Europe

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The reasons for the resurgence in historic motoring events may be manifold, but there is no doubt the general public is being enthused by the reappearance of some older events and the creation of new ones. The owners and drivers of historic vehicles tend to fall into two categories. This who like to keep their vehicles in showroom condition, spend hours cleaning and polishing their treasured cars and never take them out on the open road. The other extreme is the owner/driver who hardly ever cleans his car, in fact they may just do the bare minimum to keep them running. These people seem to be more interested in driving rather than owning and seek every opportunity to get their motors on the road, either in point-to-point challenges or even track racing where possible. Another thriving branch of historic motorsport is the hill climb discipline, where stripped down racers climb a closed section of hilly terrain as fast as possible. The section of sport we are concerning ourselves with here covers location to location car rallies or historic competitions on motor racing circuits. It is these events that have seen a surge in interest and now make up a significant part of the motor sport calendar in different countries. One of the biggest is the Goodwood Revival Festival in the UK which attracts cars, owners and visitors from all over the world. There are real races that see very expensive cars put through their paces on the track, which has been lovingly restored to reflect the bygone era when the cars originally raced. Visitors are invited to dress up in period costume and the whole weekend is a special event. A similar event on a smaller scale is the brand new Algarve Historic Festival, which tales place for the first time this year at the Algarve’s newest motor circuit, near to Portimao. Just like the Goodwood festival there will be competitive races for cars in different categories. In fact there are 16 different races in addition to plenty of exhibition areas for cars not racing. Motor racing legend Sir Sterling Moss has accepted an invitation to race his own car, a 1956 Osca, in the year he celebrates his 80th birthday. Sir Sterling is well known for not owning a normal car himself, preferring to travel around on public transport or on his scooter. Also planned is a charity parade celebrating 50 years of the Mini as well as parade laps for Ferrari, Maserati and Osca cars. In Africa, the Ganbia is an unusual finish point for a historic motoring event that sees a group of cars racing across Europe all the way from Plymouth in England to Banjul, the capital. This is an unusual event that started several years ago and requires the drivers to leave their cars behind in Banjul after the rally where they will be auctioned for charity. Another fairly low key event is the Volta a Madeira, a motoring festival held on the Portuguese island of Madeira for the 22nd time this year. Some of the vehicles taking part on the most recent version of this event included cars from Ferrari, Mercedes, Triumph, MG, Lancia and BMW. The Volta takes the competitors over the beautiful mountainous roads of the island during the four day event. The island of Mallorca also has its own classic car rally, known as the Rally Clasico Isla Mallorca, which takes place over three days in March. This is a very popular event and over forty cars have already entered for the 2010 event, the sixth running of the event. The oldest car competing so far is a 1954 Jaguar XK 140 which will join the others on various stages around this beautiful island. The most spectacular of the 14 stages for spectators are bound to be those that take the cars into the Tramuntana mountains, to the north of Palma. One stage runs between the northern town of Pollensa and Lluc, the location of one of Mallorca’s most famous old monasteries. Another similar event is the Historic Commercial Vehicle Rally that was held on the island of Malta in March this year. Organised by the Malta Historic Vehicle Trust at the Ta Qali location, the event expects to grow into the largest motoring event on Malta. Amazingly on the first running of the Rally, almost 120 vehicles were on display including old fire engines, trucks, vans and military vehicles. Finally, France has a huge heritage in classic cars and has two similar events at two of its legendary venues. The Magny-Cours track hosts the Masters Historic Festival every two years in July, while other years see the Le Mans Classic festival taking place. Both events include competitive races for pre-1974 and pre-1966 race cars. Another French Classic Car event is the November Sun Run, which start in the Champagne region of France on November 4th 2009 and sees the cars driving 1400 kilometers towards the south of France, finishing on November 7th by racing up the famous alpine climb of Alp D’Huez.

Cities like Palma andBanjul are just some of the new locations that now host vintage motoring festivals. Travel writer Mark Bartley covers unique events and offers advice on finding low cost flights to Banjul or Mallorca this year.