SLARTIBARTFAST RALLY – Aug 23 – Sept 7 2017
Visiting the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway – 5,195kms in 16 days
The Hague, Netherlands to Ostersund, Sweden
The Slartibartfast Rally began in the Hague at the Van der Valk hotel in Wassenaar with the participants arriving during the day on Tuesday 22nd August. Nicholas Pryor and Lesley Stockwell led the field and arrived in their Mercedes 350 SL in time for breakfast and everyone else arrived at different times through out the day.
Serge and Jacqueline Berthier drove up in their Jensen Interceptor, but their engine had not been running well and they found the car almost impossible to drive as it kept stalling and was using vaste amounts of fuel so the rally car preparers flew in two of their mechanics from Switzerland to resolve the issues, as they had been working on the car before the rally.
We all met in the bar that evening before sitting down to dinner and everyone had a chance to find out more about their fellow drivers and navigators. Ronald Vetters and Ann Putts arrived in time for pudding having picked up their Camaro from their car prepareres in Ghent – it had been a busy day.
The following morning all the cars lined up outside the the Louwman Museum, which was about 3 minutes down the road. The Museum contains the world’s oldest private collection of motor cars, compiled by two generations of the Louwman family and now houses more than 250 veteran, vintage and classic cars, ranging from 1886 right up until the modern day. They had one of the 4 James Bond Aston Martin DB5’s as driven by Sean Connery, complete with twin Browning machine guns, spinning number plate, rear oil squirters, smoke machine and of course the ejector seat! Other British cars included the Le Mans winning D Type and the very beautiful Lagonda LM45. The Museum has the largest collection of pre 1910 cars in the world and displays a collection of the 15 classic cars of the Dutch brand Spyker. There was also a huge collection of automotive memorabilia including a vaste array of evocative posters, all different sizes of scaled models made in wood and metal, and bicycles from a fore-gone era – this Museum is a must and should be on any car lovers bucket list – allow at least a day! You will love every minute of it.
The Mercedes 350 SL and the Jensen Interceptor lined up with John and Fen Aird’s Jaguar SS100, Adrian and Susanne Turner’s V12 E Type Jaguar Drophead, Patrick and Louise van Griethuysen’s Ami 6 Commercial, Theo and Esmarie Dutoit’s Porsche Boxter, Chris and Gayle Hopkinson’s Porsche 4 Ltr 911, Stanley and Angelika Illman’s Mercedes 500 SL and Ronald Vetters and Ann Putts Camero Drophead.
We were delighted that Paul Schnowaner , who was on the PanAm Classic Rally across the USA in June /July, came down from Amsterdam and as the cars were counted down, he was there to wave the Dutch flag to see them all off – the rally was under way!!
Everyone made the start except Ronald and Ann in their Camero which had a major mechanical problem and they decided that because they were only an hour from their home garage, they would return the Camero and take their Ferrari instead. They joined us in the evening in Nordenham.
The Traffic out of the Hague and past Amsterdam was quite busy and it took some time before we found ourselves on narrow roads, flanked by ditches, canals and waterways, with quite a few windmills dotted throughout the landscape. The land was very flat and perfect for the multitudes of cyclists which were out in force! All the bikes were of the old fashioned ‘sit-up-and-beg; variety and there was not a hint of lycra or racing bike to be seen – most refreshing!
The road meandered around fields and waterways before we arrived at Tante Lils in the quaint village of Enumatil for lunch. Each outside table had a brightly coloured umbrella and we ate lunch while watching the local gigantic tractors navigate the narrow village street pulling huge trailers of newly harvested grass.
The landscape was covered with tall imposing wind turbines, many of which sat still and we continued over bridges, wide waterways, and past many a field being harvested into large round bales. The farmers were making the most of the lovely warm sunny day.
There was a self start Regularity and Jogularity with Route Checks inbetween where the participants had to spot small letters attached to road signs.
Not being able to speak or understand the Dutch language, it was interesting driving through a country where one does not understand any of the signs one sees! The best village name for the day was Reiderpolderwolder! We now understand the phrase ‘double Dutch’!!
We stayed that night at the Hotel Am Market in Nordenham, Germany, just off the main square – It had been a long day and everyone was pleased to arrive safely and tuck into a sumptuous dinner.
The following morning was cloudy and grey and it had rained in the night – our destination that day was Roskilde in Denmark and we had 100 km’s to the first ferry which was a roll on roll off ferry taking 30 mins. It was then 192km to the second ferry from Puttgarden to Rodbyhavn.
We passed an abundance of maize fields, drove through many beautiful avenues of trees, and saw some lovely old barns with huge high pitched rooves and old timber framed houses with brick infill. Again the combines, hoppers, threshers and other farm machinery were out in force, rushing to bring in the harvest before the weather turned. The speed limits were challenging as there were many 50 and 70kph areas and the Danish are so law abiding it took longer than we anticipated to get from A to B!
After the first ferry we had a regularity section on dirt which was pretty tough for some of the ‘lower-slung’ cars but they all made it through.
The Army were stopping some cars as we arrived in Denmark but none of the rally cars were stopped. The route took us through wonderful forests with little wooden framed houses usually painted dark red or yellow, and we followed the ever changing course of the road as it weaved itself around field after field.
There was a jogularity towards the end of the day with a self-start, followed by 17 different timings the cars had to hit over a distance of 23 kilometers. A testing challenge which kept navigator and driver on their toes until the end, followed by an easy 45k run into Roskilde.
We stayed at the Hotel Comwell – it had been a long day totalling 472 km and there were many tired people.
Jonkoping in Sweden was our next stop and we had a shorter drive of 349 km. Nicholas rang early to say that he had awoken with a headache and ringing in his ears due to the reverberation in his Mercedes caused by his new exhaust which made the car unbearable to drive. He decided to continue in a hire car.
Before we left the hotel that morning, John Aird’s Jaguar needed fluid in the gear box and the bolts tightened up on the exhaust manifold as they were very loose. Serge in his Jensen had been suffering from hot feet due to the heat from the exhaust coming through the bulkhead so he was looking forward to colder weather in the North!
We had a 70km dash to the ferry at Helsingor and we crossed the border into Sweden mid channel and arrived in Helsingborg. We then had a lovely drive up into the hills passing lakes, small wood clad houses and neat gardens. We took to dirt roads through forests full of pines and christmas trees and then the rain started, making the road a much more challenging but fun drive!
We lunched at Tiraholms Rokeru Fisk, a fish restaurant at the end of a forest track in the middle of nowhere and had the most delicious Zander fish. The afternoon route took us through more forests of pine, silver birch, spruce, larch and silver poplar until we reached Jonkoping and the Best Western/John Bauer Hotel.
The next morning was an 8.00am start but when Serge tried to leave the underground garage, he discovered he had a problem with his clutch. Toby found that the centrally mounted clutch release bearing was leaking and needed bleeding but it was only when he jacked up the front of the car that he was able to bleed it properly. Serge left at 10.00am and raced to catch up with the rest of the field.
The route took us almost immediately up into the hills, through little hamlets of wood clad houses and along roads flanked by pine forests as well as the logged out sections There were three stages of self-start jogularity which were mainly on dirt roads and luckily we didn’t meet many cars on the mountain tracks. It was a beautiful day and everyone found different café’s and restaurants to stop at during the journey. We started to see more and more old American cars driving along the roads and when we arrived in Mora in the late afternoon we saw more and more drive pass. They passed the front of the Mora Hotel and Spa where we were staying and then at the nearby T-junction there was a continual stream of cars processing round the whole town. They drove by slowly, happily waving as they passed, with thumbs up signs, music blaring and obviously enjoying being part of such an amazing procession. Apparently this is a regular Saturday night event and that night we went to sleep to the sound of American V8’s burbling past our window.
Ostersund was our next destination and the day’s route was full of almost deserted roads navigating around lake after lake and huge vista’s of the pine forests spreading into the distance. We drove past Sveg and through Vemham and stopped for lunch in Vemdalen. There was one particularly rough gravel section and John and Fen decided to head for the hotel as it was too rough for them but the others pushed on to the next jogularity before the route took them into Ostersund via a long bridge with a great view of the town.