Posted by: viewfromtheriva | December 28, 2013

Split-Zadar Annual Classic Car Meeting & Rally!


The iconic Jaguar XKE trunk logo

The iconic Jaguar XKE trunk logo

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the Split Classic Car Club and the Zadar Classic Car Club hold a joint get-together and rally. This year it was Split’s turn to host their colleagues and I was invited by the club president to drive one of his classics, a 1976 MGB.

it doesn't get more classic than this

it doesn’t get more classic than this

The big day was today but yesterday around noon  Slobo called me for a “test drive…..just to get me comfortable with the car”.

OK, so you are a big bad MG, but look at me, I am so much bigger than you!

OK, so you are a big bad MG, but look at me, I am so much bigger than you!

Test drive?  I haven’t let a soul drive my 1993 Mercedes sedan, which is built so well you could hack through the gears and it would still act like a lady.   So acting like I had driven MG’s for years, of course I said sure, come on over. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to come until dark.

Now some people love driving at night.  I am not one of them…..not that I can’t see well, it’s just that the night lights of oncoming cars hit me like a deer and for a moment I think, ahh, light, so nice, keep looking straight into them because nothing will happen, you are a deer and there is nothing to worry about because everyone knows that a deer can run faster than a car…….or something like that.

the gorgeous hood ornament that adorns every Rolls Royce

the gorgeous hood ornament that adorns every Rolls Royce (and the sun shining brightly behind her is not Photoshopped!)

Ugh.  But hey, it’s an MG!! So I hopped in and gee it shifted beautifully, I was related to Mario Andretti, cruising right along, couple of nice downshifts, the rack and pinion steering was precise and thankfully there were very few oncoming cars with bright headlights.

It was going way too smoothly until Slobo let it drop that the brakes were a “bit soft”.  OK, no biggie.  And of course a minute later the car ahead of me stopped a bit quick and when I pressed down, the brakes turned into that deer….oh, that feels so nice, there is nothing to worry about because everyone knows  I am a brake and brakes stop cars much faster than people….and then of course I remember way too late that Slobo also mentioned that the distance between the MG’s brake pedal and its gas pedal is about the thickness of deer’s eyelash– and like an idiot, I am wearing my big fat Eccos on my tootsies!  Which explains why I’m not stopping–my Eccos are on the gas pedal and on the brake pedal at the same time.  Ah, so that is why I am hearing an acceleration noise instead of screeching brakes! Or is it actually that Slobo is being too kind–the MG’s brakes are not just “soft”,  they are pancake batter and I am about to turn the front end of his yellow MG into mush.

The club president, snapping a photo, a very trusting individual to be sure!

The club president, snapping a photo, a very trusting individual to be sure!

A half a meter away from flapjacks, I see  Slobo slowly lift both arms, as if somehow this gesture will save him, the front end of his car, and me from terminal embarrassment.  But the brakes finally grab and the car stops as if nothing happened at all.  As they say, a near miss is not an accident!  But damn, I was doing sooooooooooo well!!!

That;s me in the driving seat and my co-pilot for the day

That’s me in the driving seat and Juirca Mandic, my co-pilot for the day

Lesson learned, for the rest of the test, you can be very sure that I kept my right foot as far LEFT as possible and made a mental note to either drive barefoot or with sneakers the next day.

And what a gorgeous day it was, starting off with a big group meeting in the parking lot–a golden rolls, a 1973 BMW 2002, whoaa, a Maserati Khamsin, a gorgeous concours condition 1959 190 Mercedes to name but a few. After meeting and greeting we all walked the few minutes over to the Club’s new meeting room for some light snacks to welcome the Zadar folks, who left every early to get here by 9AM.

the Splitska club has a small meeting room/clubhouse right near Hajduk stadium...perfect for a quick snack!

the Splitska club has a small meeting room/clubhouse right near Hajduk stadium…perfect for a quick snack!

Then it was time for the rally, a closed, short acrobatic course with first prize going to the car and co pilot that could come closest to doing it in exactly 60 seconds;  followed by a speed trial over the same course.

We all lined up for the rally, which took place in the parking lot of Hajduk Stadium

We all lined up for the rally, which took place in the parking lot of Hajduk Stadium

For some reason our car was first, which meant that all eyes would be on me and Jurica Mandic,  my co-pilot….hmm, maybe I should switch…..not sure WHY, after all I was wearing sneakers and it was VERY sunny….but I did.  And we did it in 58.5.  For some weird reason NONE of the other cars did better…but instead of finishing first, we came in third!  Why? Well, two others came in closer to 60 seconds than we did, even though their times were MORE than 60 seconds.  Must have something to do with pasticada.  Or Balkan time? No matter, my first rally…keeping time, not driving of course, and we finished 3rd!

the rally course....looked easy but was just confusing enough to throw off a lot of drivers!

The rally course….looked easy but was just confusing enough to throw off a lot of drivers!

The speed trial was a kick because you really couldn’t get past second gear—the turns were way too tight.  I thought the 750cc Zastava, which could turn around a BigMac, would be the winner, but oh no, it was the Maserati Khamsin, a stunning V8 dreamed up by the designer of the legendary Countach that came out  for a few years in the 1970s.  Loved or hated, only 420 were made, so it’s a rare beauty.  If a great white shark could be a car, it would look like this:

With steering and brakes by Citroen and a body and engine by Maserati, the Khmasin is fast, flashy and classy!

With steering and brakes by Citroen and a body and engine by Maserati, the Khamsin is fast, flashy and classy!

Next we all paraded down to Split Airport where we had been invited onto to the tarmac for a photo op with a recently restored 1930’s bi plane that had actually seen service in WW2.  Our vintage cars and this gleaming white bird even caused ground crews and Croatia Airlines stewardesses to come on over and joins us.

cars and biplane two

We were one of just five cars to be grouped in front of the plane for photo and then Zadar and Split members and all their cars lined up.  This was

admiring the plane

followed by a short introduction to history of the plane, its engine, etc. and a chance for some of the kids and wives of the members to climb into the cockpit for some more photos.Airport tarmac

The plane has just been completely re-done and needs to be certified for airworthiness before it can be flown legally, so seeing it in such pristine condition was a treat.

Hard to imagine that during WW2 this baby carried some potent machine guns!

Hard to imagine that during WW2 this baby carried some potent machine guns!

After the airport show, we took off for Marina where we had lunch right on the water.  After our meal, awards were presented to various members for their contributions, including one for me for doing the English translation on the Club’s Memento for the recent FIVA assembly here (see previous blog on that event).  This was followed  by trophies for the rally winners and an exchange of artwork for each club’s walls.

thank you Robert

With the top down, listening to the growl of a happy MG engine, on a gorgeous day in December spent in the company of  such really nice people who clearly enjoy each other as much as they do their fabulous cars, it was pure enjoyment from start to third place finish!

 

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Responses

  1. What a fun adventure, Robert! You like quite at ease behind the wheel of that sporty MG with your riding cap on. 🙂


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