Turbocelica.nl Roadtrip 2008
September 14, 2008
After missing out on the 2007 Swiss Celica GT-Four drivers club meeting, I signed up for the 2008 edition. While discussing this with my mate and co-driver Stefan, we found out that we could also visit two days of the German round of the WRC - the 2008 Rallye Deutschland - on our way. Nice! One thing led to another and basically I went all out, planning an 'ultimate roadtrip' through automotive heaven. My main concern was the old beast; if the car would keep going, this would be a hell of a trip and an awesome adventure.. And a memorable experience it was! Since I took some (3445) pics on the way, here's an impression of my BEST roadtrip so far..
The 4700+ km trip would be a real endurance test for the 1992 'Four, so we started off easy:
Not! :P I've been planning to drive the Nurburgring's Nordschleife (aka green hell) for a long time now, so it had to be part of the roadtrip. I was quite pumped up; besides it being the most beautiful track in the world, it's also a perfect place to write the car off and actually, every year lots of people do.. Since we arrived early, we had a look at the other cars around. During weekends it's very crowded at the Ring but on this Wednesday evening with light rain being forecast, there were only a handful of other drivers attending to the 'Touristenfahrten'. Perfect for a Ring noob like me.. :)
Team Black Falcon was there for a TV or magazine shoot with a few rare supercars to look at. Perfect to kill some time! No less than a Pagani Zonda F, Ferrari Enzo and Porsche Carrera GT were the first cars we saw at the parking:
But wait, they brought a Maserati MC12 too! :D
Nice ground clearance:
Afterwards I've read they had a Koenigsegg there the day before too! Anyway.. The big moment was finally there..
Due to the number of (fatal) accidents that occur at the Ring every year, it's prohibited to film or take pictures from inside the car. Video material wouldn't be spectacular anyway during my first laps, but specially on a nearly empty Ring I just HAD to get some pics of Carlos in action. After I installed the fish eye lens for wider views, we went onto the track.
Left for dead by a Porsche GT3:
The famous Karussel:
Completely different to all racing games; the dips and height differences causing impressive G's making the ride even more intense:
Back onto the main straight. The phone taped to the dashboard was set to log GPS data, which revealed the STACK display is actually set quite accurate - 190 km/h on the dash is 186.5 km/h on the GPS, nice! :)
After 2 laps light rain started to come down. Next up a flatbed truck went onto the track so we decided to call it a day and leave the Ring for now. I loved it and will go back for more in the future, no doubt. I think I also abused the front right hand side CV joints a bit too much as it made a very light clicking noise on full lock to the right.. Hardly noticeable though.. We'll see. A final picture for the photo diary:
Next stop was the little town of Veldenz were we'd booked an hotel. The next day started early to check out the Rallye Deutschland's Shakedown. 30'C and WRC action made for a great start of this years rally:
It was great to see the Sainz got quite some attention too. Quite normal after winning the WRC in '92, '93 and '94 of course, lol. Looking mean in the parking lot:
Next stop was the Service park in the city of Trier. Gearbox swaps in a few minutes ftw!
Next to the Service park the classic rally cars were parked. Can't get enough of them..
Nice subtle tribute to 'the boss' stickers on the old Celica above:
After that it was time for the official Show start of the rally in the city centre. Like every year, loads of people turned up making a great atmosphere while the sun set:
As usual the Dutch teams made the show (it needs to be said). Loads of flames and bangs making the crowd go crazy!
Next day, special stage 2 started in Veldenz, 5 minutes from our hotel. A nice double hairpin meant lots of powersliding:
Pictures taken at SS4:
After most Grp A8 cars (The WRC's) had flown by, we continued our roadtrip, heading for France. In the picture below, check out the camera mount in between the seats. In-car video footage of the Swiss mountain passes will follow later on. A familiar sight :D :
We ended the day in Switzerland. At our hotel for the night we met some guys from the GT-Four drivers club. After a drink and chatting about the meeting, we said goodbye and would meet again the next day. Interesting fact were the 7 hardcore porn channels on the cable.. Seven! Haha! :D
The meeting started with a visit to the Gruyères castle:
The Porsche club had the same plan:
Next up was a trip to the top of 'Glacier 3000'. The cable car took us from 30'C+ to the snow covered summit in a few minutes. Time to enjoy the fantastic views..
Back down it was time for dinner and, of course, some pictures :D
Sunday started with a well planned project which was discussed on the forums in advance. It doesn't look much from the ground:
But from the up in the air it looked very cool!
Gotta get me one of these one day..
After another convoy drive it was time for lunch.
Final stop of the 2008 meeting was Toyota garage Gobeli who sponsored the Glacier 3000 event (thanks!):
After a final picture of the ST185 models next to each other:
.. We said goodbye and went back on the road, heading for our next stop in the Swiss Alps - the Furkapass. The scenery was again just awesome. Interlaken:
Topping up the tank again. A German ST205 driver went to Italy after the meeting so we drove together for a while. SSQV concerts in most tunnels were a great laugh hehe :D
Coming up to the Furkapass, check out the road up the mountain.. :D
The next morning, this was our view from the hotel room at the Furkapass. It was like looking at a big model train box really!
It was mountain pass day. The map below shows our hotel (red dot) at the middle of the Furkapass (19). The left 'vertical' pass (6) is the Grimselpass, 11 is the Sustenpass. The lower one is the Nufenenpass, the blue 2 on the right is the Gotthardpass and below it (red 2) is the Gotthardtunnel. If you're in the area, you've got to drive them, all of them.. Unbelievable roads..
Driving down the Gotthardpass, the tunnel you see up on the mountain is planned later on, to see the Gotthardpass from above.
Looking down over Airolo:
Coming from the Nufenenpass, looking out at the Grimsel going uphill. Some cool in-car action is made with the eye height mounted video camera. I'll post the YouTube links later.
I dropped Stefan off for some pics with the car on it. But I also liked this one, showing a big artificial lake/reservoir. The red pixel is me boosting uphill again. :D
Cooling down stop. I really need an additional oil cooler for this type of driving..
Two of the many tunnels on the Sustenpass:
Some tunnels seen from up above..
Another huge glacier:
Concentration is required on these roads!
Entering the Gotthardtunnel, going south to Airolo again. 18 km of SSQV madness ahead!
Another tunnel, the one as seen from the Gotthardpass earlier:
And the pass we drove earlier that day itself.. OMG.
A closer look showing some bikers going uphill:
The next day we took off for the next stop; Italy. On our way we spotted several sportscars like this UK 348 TB:
And then we saw San Bernardino on the signs. Since the schedule wasn't that tight that day, we took the exit and drove the San Bernardino pass as well. As seen on Top Gear's search for the greatest driving road in the world, the San Bernardino pass is quite flat for a large part, but very nice to drive none the less.
In Italy, Modena to be precise, we arrived at our hotel (Hotel Arthur, recommended A+++ btw) located 5 minutes from the Ferrari premises. Carlos had a nice garage to sleep in the next couple of days:
Next day was Ferrari day. On our way to the Fiorano circuit, I spotted a car in a bodyshop which had the door open. I looked at Stefan.. "FXX?" "Yes" he nodded. NICEEE! :D We parked the car down the road and I walked back to the shop. I took this picture from the other side of the road:
I wasn't happy with it so I crossed the road and snapped a picture of a few F430 bodies ready for paint which I noticed looking from the side:
I think a worker heard the camera shutter because before I could step in front of the door for that perfect FXX shot, he started yelling at me and slammed the door shut. All I could do was laugh and look at Stefan like "What the..?!". Too bad about the FXX though. :( We went back to the car and to Fiorano, where a 599 was tested when we arrived:
After 7 or 8 laps it disappeared, but only a few seconds later we heard an even nicer engine being started and revved..
After the F1 testing session the 599 came out again, after which we went to check out the offices:
A 800 kg fully SS prancing horse was placed on the roundabout next to the offices in 2003:
While sniping through the gates I spotted a new California with masked up logo's front and rear. Strange, since it's already presented to the press?!
This big structure is the F1 testing windtunnel. Quite impressive irl.
Behind me I heared what sounded like a F430, but guess what, another California went for a road test, without logo masking?!:
We then had some lunch in the town center of Maranello, next to the Enzo Ferrari Auditorium (theatre):
After the hotdogs :D we went to see the Galleria Ferrari, a three story museum. I found a nice place to park:
Inside, most of the pictures speak for themselves I guess:
The 360 Barchetta (check out the front windscreen) prototype, 1 out of 1 ever made.
The cars that did the Ferrari World Tour, with loads of fantastic pictures of their roadtrip around them:
On our way back to the hotel we drove past the factory main gates:
And while driving by, I noticed my friend at the bodyshop had put the door open again! That's just asking for it!
For the next day I'd booked a factory visit/tour at Pagani:
.. Where a busload of super annoying Czech people arrived too:
So I took some pics of the other items in the little showroom, like a Pagani Zonda styled bike:
And the brutal Mercedes-AMG V12 the Zonda uses:
During the tour I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but in the wall between the showroom and factory was a glass showcase.. :D So here's a peak into the front factory hall. The front car was in for maintenance, the middle (black) and rear (pink RHD) cars were new cars being built:
We outwaited the Czechs, so when they left in their bus I could take some clean pics:
The red racing car in the background was built by Horachio Pagani himself when he was 20:
Cool thing was, the actual car standing outside had just taken back the Nordschleife lap record for production cars, the day before our visit! Rumours in the factory said 7m23s as a non official timed lap was the new record, but while typing this the Dodge Viper ACR has taken it back with 7:22. Still an impressive 4 sec difference with the previous Zonda record!
After the Pagani visit we decided to go for some Ferrari spotting at the Fiorano track again, but all we saw was the 360 Modena flower pot near the factory. After a picture of Carlos in front of the track entrance we headed back to the hotel.
The next day Maserati was on the menu. From previous e-mail contact I knew they we're closed for holidays, but we decided to have a look anyway as they have quite a big showroom. Typical Italian detour:
Arrived at the factory/showroom, a new Granturismo S was in fact being tested - sounds better than I expected!
We asked the security guard if we could take some photos in the showroom which we could. "Closed but ok" explained that there were dead flies and spider webs everywhere, but still it was impressive with a huge blue swirly thing under and above the cars:
After a supermarket visit for lunch, disaster struck.. After starting the car I noticed the STACK needle was broken off?!!
After swearing for a minute or two, we headed back to the hotel where I contacted the Japanese supplier immediately. The display needs to be sent back to Japan to use the warranty of SARD. I've seen a Top Secret Supra with a broken STACK needle before, but I never expected it to happen to my display too.. :( I suspect it broke while calibrating against the zero-pin during startup. I'm not looking forward to the downtime. Ah well, the car's still working though.
Saturday we would visit DeTomaso or what's left of it, but doing nothing all day seemed a better idea. :D
Sunday we watched the F1 race of Valencia in the Enzo Ferrari Auditorium. While eating lunch next door, 3 masked up California's drove by again. The 430 sound is soo nice! The theatre wasn't 'sold out' so we had lots of space. At first the passionate locals were fun to see, but after Raikkonen blew his engine and a pitstop went wrong I wanted to slap them for overreacting ALL the time. Drama queens. Luckily Massa won, so they didn't blow up the theatre or something. :)
Monday was Lamboday:
Monday was our last day in Modena but by e-mail I was told Lambo factory tours would start again on Tuesday. However, the guy I spoke to at Pagani, said he would do a tour at Lamborghini too on Monday (he had worked for Pagani, Lamborghini AND Ferrari) and he would be able to squeeze in 2 extra people in his group. Nice! We couldn't find him anywhere though, so I gave him a ring. "Yes sorry I meant Tuesday, not Monday.." So no factory tour. :(
However, due to us still waiting outside, my wet Lamborghini dream came true while driving by .. A Reventón!!
An older guy boarded the machine and drove away right after the last picture and O-M-G the sound. Stefan taped it so I'll link that later on too. It's unreal how aggressive it looks and sounds once the active exhaust opens up irl! Luckily, after checking out the facelifted Gallardo LP 560-4:
.. The black monster came back (with its cooling scoops open, hehe). "The badge!" went through my mind, so I had a look inside and guess what? They've built 21! I remember number 1/20 was delivered in the States in a crate, so this must be the test car:
Then the beast disappeared into a building behind the museum. After capturing a Gallardo Superleggera in the parking next to LOADS of Audi's (lol) we entered the museum:
The new Miura retro concept car:
Wooden Countach 1:8 model:
After the museum visit we had a 4 hour drive to go before arriving at our hotel near the ultimate road.. Stelvio pass. Stelvio pass was on my to do-list for a long time, but after the Top Gear episode featuring it, I REALLY had to drive it. I didn't expect the first time I had to drive it to be in the rain in complete darkness though.. Some proper brown trouser moments! Just below the top Carlos needed a cool down moment, as things got a little hot :D :
The next day was sunny again and this is what we're talking about in daylight:
After driving down that 'ribbon of tarmac' again, we made a U-turn to head back up for more pics and video footage. That little building on top is the hotel from where I took the picture above. 20 hairpins to go:
At the top I took a fish eye view picture and we had some lunch, preparing for the downhill ride on the other (west) side.
Final picture at the top before blasting downhill:
Downhill the clicking sound coming from the right hand side front wheel was a bit louder than right after the Nordschleife laps, but the car kept on going so I decided to fix that when home again.. After another few km's long tunnels (the last one in the background) we had to wait for the Strassentunnel, so narrow it's one way at a time to enter Switzerland again:
The last pass of our trip was the Fluelapass, as seen in the Top Gear greatest driving road footage (the part shot from a helicopter over several small lakes). It ends in Davos, completing our ride of that very greatest driving road (Davos to Stelvio - which we did in reverse):
Next stop was Autosalon Singen, basically a used supercar dealer. You want it, they (will) have it. They didn't have the car I was looking forward to (Mercedes Benz CLK GTR Roadster AMG, 1 of 5 ever made) as it was still on it's way to the shop. Still, there was enough to drool over:
Since Bugatti didn't respond any e-mails for a possible factory visit, we headed north again. Our hotel for the night was in Stuttgart.
Yes, the city of Porsche. I had arranged a factory visit, where we got to see the 911 production line, leather shop and Porsche's engine assembly factory. Quite impressive to say the least. Massive too, with a 911 production of 163 cars a day, compared to 16 or 17 Pagani Zonda's a YEAR.. Again no cameras were allowed in the factory but Porsche does have a little museum:
How about changing the plug wires on this flat 16? :D
After the visit to Porsche, it was time to go home again. But since Cologne was on our way, why not have a look at Toyota Motorsport (Former TTE, the works World Rally team)? :)
We arrived around 16:00 at the site, as many workers went home. And boy did the car get a lot of looks and thumbs up. Awesome! Some of those guys probably have worked on the WRC version of my car, how cool is that! Nice to see them still liking/appreciating the Carlos Sainz (judging by the smiles)!
And remember page 58 of Hyper Rev #30 - the TTE article about the rally Celicas?
After some shots inside, where there's a fully working (well, at least no dummy engine or steering wheel) F1 car:
.. And having found inner peace :D We really went home. The next day, after a VERY rewarding wash/wax treatment, we took the car to the UK for the Japanese Auto Extravaganza (weekend during static JDM show), of which you can see the pictures via the Events gallery page (please see link below).
Sooo, that was how I spent my holiday! 4702 kms, 18 days of driving fun, beautiful scenery and meeting great people. I hope that while reading this you had the same great time as I had during this trip. Roadtrips are really ftw, I'm already looking for a new route for next year.. :]
Time to get the STACK display out..