Report and photos by Dirk de Jager
The International Bugatti Meeting touring event was held 5-11 June, 2011 in the Castilla y León region of Spain.
Every year a different Bugatti club gets chosen to hold the annual International Bugatti Meeting. The club in question typically sets out a route in their country for 4-6 days to enjoy the local scenery and delicacies. For 2011 this honour was bestowed to the Swedish club, but they opted to pass to organizational duties to the Italian rally specialist company 2Fast4You, who then chose to stage the rally for the first time in Spain.
Franco Majno, one of 2Fast4You founders, is also the Italian Bugatti Club president and had organized the 2009 International meeting in Italy was more then ready to take on this challenge to bring the Bugatti marque to the Castilla y León region of Spain.
The home base for the International Bugatti Meeting Rally 2011 was the Palacio de la Merced in the historical city of Burgos, right across from Spain’s most famous Gothic Cathedral, the Arch of Santa Maria. Both are listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. The area also stands out for having a large number of palaces, monasteries and castles that make prime targets for rest areas during the daily driving.
With five days of driving ahead, entrants met up on Sunday 5th of June, 2011 to watch almost 100 Bugattis arrive from a staggering 16 different countries. No less then 20 different models out of the rich Bugatti history made for a nice representation to the marque. Unfortunately three cars didn’t make it but their owners did show up with suitable classic replacements. In the end there was a very nicely filled parking lot in front of the Museum of Human Evolution going from Type 13s to of course Type 35s and 57s to the rarer to be seen Type 46, 49 and 50 all the way to the fastest supercar in the world: the Veyron.
The International Bugatti Meeting is different compared to other rallies because you do not get the typical road book that says how many meters to go for the next reference in the book. Instead you receive a map of the day’s route as a backup and for the rest simply follow the red Bugatti arrows. That rationale allows both driver and passenger to relax in the car and enjoy the scenery instead of being with their nose in the book and on the trip master.
On average the day’s drive is around 250km of which most spend on the smaller country lanes enjoying the great scenery, ranging from in between the crop and flower fields to small hills and up to 2000 meters high in the mountains.
Considering the smaller distances driven each day, this gives the owners the chance to sleep a bit longer in the morning, have a relaxed drive to the first rest area to enjoy an early noon aperitif, usually located at a beautiful castle or small historic town that is worth the visit. This is followed by another drive to a vineyard, monastery or castle where a regional lunch was served. After an enjoyable lunch entrants could drive relaxed or a bit more spirited back towards Burgos to get ready for the dinners in the Palace Hotel, mixed up with a night at the museum and even another palace on the outskirts of the city.
Of course the entrants came to Spain to enjoy driving their beloved Bugattis although the Spanish weather didn’t really help along and most days were spent driving with a thick jacket on or even the top up for an occasional bit of rain. (At least the ones that have a top or a roof). Most of them had to brave the cold wet weather in the open grand prix cars yet every night they were all still smiling and talking about the beautiful sights they saw during the day.
The entire International Bugatti Meeting Rally 2011 was followed by two experienced Bugatti mechanic crews to make sure everybody made it back or could start each day. Not a single day did one of these pre-war cars refuse to start or bring its occupants back to the hotel.
Outside of a few annoyances and flat tyres, the biggest problems were a broken rear axle on a T23 and a T37 that had a small fender bender at low speed, breaking the steering box in the process. And a T57 went a bit off road but luckily without damage and in the end nobody got hurt.
After a week of driving all entrants could look back at a successful and beautiful rally. Even with the lesser weather the mood was still so good that several decided to keep on driving towards Portugal in search of warmer weather and more driving pleasure. This can only be applauded to see that these fortunate owners do keep using their cars as intended – to keep them alive and on the road.
At the final dinner the next International Bugatti Meeting was announced, with the 2012 rally held in the Netherlands with drives across Holland, Belgium and Germany. For 2013 the announcement was made (under guidance of bagpipe music) that the Bugattis would be welcomed in the warm and sunny hills of Scotland where the whiskey and haggis would await them. All we can say to this is: VIVE LA MARQUE!!!
[Source: Dirk de Jager]