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The Opel GT Dolomite Adventure

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May 2014 saw us undertake a rather special road trip in our 2008 Opel GT. Our trip consisted of 5 nights in the South of France at Port Cogolin, 4 nights in Brescia, 3 nights in Venice and 4 nights in the Dolomites in the South Tyrol region. On this trip we were watching the Monaco Grand Prix Historique and the famous Mille Miglia race from Brescia to Rome and back. Finally we were meeting 9 other car enthusiasts in the Dolomites who also had Opel GTs to do some driving and exploring of some passes in the Dolomites. It proved to be a simply marvellous holiday and you can read the full holiday diary on our sister site PhotoBeast here. Here though are some photographs and recollection from our time in The Dolomites with our Opel GT friends from Germany. The pictures tell the story of a fantastic few days in The Dolomites exploring the roads and passes in our Opel GTs.  Days we will never forget, stunning scenery, unbelievably fun and exciting driving and great company. A massive thank you to our good friend Norbert for inviting us along on this adventure, one we are so glad not to have missed.


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The Mille Miglia 2014 – Sunday And The Racers Return

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May 2014 saw us undertake a rather special road trip in our 2008 Opel GT. Our trip consisted of 5 nights in the South of France at Port Cogolin, 4 nights in Brescia, 3 nights in Venice and 4 nights in the Dolomites in the South Tyrol region. On this trip we were watching the Monaco Grand Prix Historique and the famous Mille Miglia race from Brescia to Rome and back. Finally we were meeting 9 other car enthusiasts in the Dolomites who also had Opel GTs to do some driving and exploring of some passes in the Dolomites. It proved to be a simply marvellous holiday and you can read the full holiday diary on our sister site PhotoBeast here. Here though are some photographs and recollection from our time in Brescia watching The Mille Miglia. This set of photographs are some from our fourth day there, when the racers returned to Brescia after their epic 1000 mile drive.

Sunday May 18th 2014 – The Mille Miglia Racers Return To Brescia

After a lazy morning we opened our blinds to another beautiful day and today we wanted to get back into town for 11.45 for when the Mille Miglia Piloti returned. As we got into Piazza Duomo the tables we had seen last night were now all laid out for lunch and the tented kitchens were busy cooking. We were trying to make out from which direction they would come back in but as all the stewards were wandering about in vague Italian style it was almost impossible to guess.

A visit to the Chopard stand, with a few overt checks of the time on my Chopard watch blagged me a Chopard cap, but the aftershave I really wanted was reserved for race participants and they just would not sell them at any price. I think Chopard missed an opportunity there as I think they would have sold loads of them.

Eventually, we decided the race drivers couldn’t come through this piazza as it was full of tents and with nowhere to go, they couldn’t parade through the town like they did when they began the race, as that bit was all set out with tables and chairs again just as it usually is. So the only place left was Piazza Vittorio and there did seem to be a few more stewards there than anywhere else. It was strangely quiet for quite a while after 11.45 but eventually we heard that familiar rumble of vintage cars through old narrow streets and the first drivers arrived to a cheer.

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We found out later when we followed their trail, that of course the finishing line was on the same raised plinth they had set off from, right on the other side of town, and then when they had finished they stopped all over the place to meet friends and relatives, drink champagne, phone their mates and do all the other essentials of life. We mixed in amongst them as we did at the start of the race and let the jolly atmosphere rub off on us. It really was fun and hopefully when we get back home we will have snapped one or two good photographs to remember this by. When they had calmed down the drivers jumped back in their cars and paraded through the town again, often with mates perched in odd places on the backs of cars all waving wildly as they were cheered past every bar and restaurant. We also had lunch in a restaurant by the roadside and joined in the cheering as the cars tooted and roared by, in between mouthfuls of pizza! Finally the cars ended up back in said Piazza where in the end they were all parked up. It made me smile that they were all given a metre square piece of card to catch the oil leaks so the Piazza didn’t get spoilt and indeed there were many leaks in many places, and the Piazza will still need cleaning!

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We picked up a few more souvenirs including a MM race book which would be fantastic if we understood Italian, maps, t-shirts and scarves but stopped short of nicking the MM banner that was attached all round the barriers, although many richer than us didn’t demonstrate such scruples.

As the afternoon passed the cars and drivers slowly disappeared and by 7pm Brescia was back to it’s normal self, it’s four days of glory over for another year. After changing and freshening up at our hotel we had a meal in town and it seemed impossible that only the night before the town was heaving with people, bustling with an atmosphere the like of which I don’t think I have seen before, with all the restaurants full to busting, and tonight it was deadly quiet.

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So that was it, the wonderful spectacle that is The Mille Miglia was over for another year. If you ever get the opportunity go and watch it, it really does amaze you. We were sad that it was over but luckily we had a cunning plan to cheer us up – tomorrow we were heading off for Venice for three days of relaxing in that beautiful city. Hate me don’t ya just!


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The Mille Miglia 2014 – Day One Part Two

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May 2014 saw us undertake a rather special road trip in our 2008 Opel GT. Our trip consisted of 5 nights in the South of France at Port Cogolin, 4 nights in Brescia, 3 nights in Venice and 4 nights in the Dolomites in the South Tyrol region. On this trip we were watching the Monaco Grand Prix Historique and the famous Mille Miglia race from Brescia to Rome and back. Finally we were meeting 9 other car enthusiasts in the Dolomites who also had Opel GTs to do some driving and exploring of some passes in the Dolomites. It proved to be a simply marvellous holiday and you can read the full holiday diary on our sister site PhotoBeast here. Here though are some photographs and recollection from our time in Brescia watching The Mille Miglia. This set of photographs are some from our first day there, when the race got underway.


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The Mille Miglia 2014 – Day One Part One

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May 2014 saw us undertake a rather special road trip in our 2008 Opel GT. Our trip consisted of 5 nights in the South of France at Port Cogolin, 4 nights in Brescia, 3 nights in Venice and 4 nights in the Dolomites in the South Tyrol region. On this trip we were watching the Monaco Grand Prix Historique and the famous Mille Miglia race from Brescia to Rome and back. Finally we were meeting 9 other car enthusiasts in the Dolomites who also had Opel GTs to do some driving and exploring of some passes in the Dolomites. It proved to be a simply marvellous holiday and you can read the full holiday diary on our sister site PhotoBeast here. Here though are some photographs and recollection from our time in Brescia watching The Mille Miglia. This set of photographs are some from our first day there, when the race got underway.

Thursday 15th May – The Mille Miglia

Not Peanut’s favourite, another early start! But we had to do this thing or we would never have got to Brescia in time to enjoy the day. So we were off and away before 6 and had a great journey to Brescia with no rain and no traffic jams.

Getting through Brescia was a bit tricky as we thought it might be as the Mille Miglia inevitably made it a busy place, but it was not dreadful and at least we hadthe pleasure of looking at lots of lovely cars as we drove in. These were not the entrants but those with nice cars who had turned up to watch or join in. So the grass verges were littered with Ferraris of every kind, Porsches, the odd Corvette, all sorts of wonderful cars. And now an Opel GT was joining the party and already getting its fair share of looks!

We found our hotel without any trouble with the sat nav taking us straight to the front door. We unpacked our stuff and more or less dumped it in our room, parked the car in the station car park opposite and hurried off to the centre of town to see what was going on. We soon started to see vintage cars rattling along on the cobbles and knew we were heading in the right direction. We had been to Brescia before and so we recognised one or two of the churches and knew it was in a piazza that was used for the Mille Miglia parking. And so we arrived to a bustling square full of people, tents and cars all jumbled up in a glorious organised chaos.

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It was like Bristol Park Avenue Breakfast Club with knobs on, as every street was full of these cars – there are over 400 entrants. At this point most of the drivers were having lunch so you could get a good look at their pride and joys. We enjoyed the atmosphere for as long as we could, but hunger soon called us and we found a small cafe for a salad which we shared for lunch on the advice of a fellow visitor.

Refuelled, we returned to the fray. The whole place was buzzing with excitement as it was a beautiful day and the drivers were looking forward to 6 pm and the start of the race. After a while some of the cars started off and moved from their parking space so it seemed like a good time to follow them and find out where they assembled. We carried on in their direction through the town until we came to what was obviously the starting point of the race. A raised platform for the cars to be flagged off from and a few temporary grandstands gave it away. But still the cars travelled on and gathered on a road some way past the start. We were never sure how they arrive at their starting order as it seemed quite random. As we walked though these cars it was like being in the paddock, you were right in among them, and could see some of them still tinkering with their engines. The serious amongst them had an impressive array of technology in the vehicles which I think helped them get their timing right, as it is not a race but a time trial and so just as important not to be too early as too late. Some took their attire very seriously. Driving overalls, gloves, flying helmets, you name it, while others just jumped in their cars and went for the fun of it.

And fun it most certainly is, yes, we know it is a hoot for the mega rich only but it doesn’t spoil being there, and it is without doubt the most entertainment you will ever get for free in the wonderful but expensive world of motoring.

So they started off at 6pm seemingly in batches of about 10 then police outriders, who I might add thought it was tremendous fun. You could see this as they left and sought any excuse to add a bit of swagger to their turns and swerves as they dodged around cars. Then another batch would depart and another and so on until all 400 or so had gone. We walked back through the town along the race route following them as they left and they did quite a large circuit of Brescia before they struck out for the open road. Somewhere after they left the Ferraris joined in, not as part of the race but it is open road so they can do what they wish.

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We mooched about in Brescia and had a drink in one of the main piazzas while the Mille Miglia cars drove round the piazza edge before striking out for the open road. In fact they were still leaving after we decided to head back to our hotel. Hmmm this could have been interesting as we had no idea where it was, other than it was near the station. So we asked a friendly policeman where the station was and he told us in very good English that we would be better catching the Metro as it was a long way to walk and he gave us very good directions. This was a revelation as until then we had no idea there was a Metro in Brescia and it saved our legs and feet from total annihilation in the next few days. So again what a genius Peanut was. Due to our late booking our hotel although in the centre of Brescia, was a mile from the actual centre where the action was. But we had a metro 50 yards from our hotel that dropped you in one of the three main piazzas! This metro was also super modern and very swish and dirt cheap. It was in stark contrast to the London Underground which to my eyes looks tired and you can’t go anywhere on it for less than 8 quid!

We got back to the hotel exhausted after walking our feet off but had had a wonderful exhilarating day, a day full of sunshine and cars and all set in a lovely city.

In one week then we had watched the old cars race at Monaco and now we had seen the start of the Mille a Miglia. I thought about the price if watching the F1 at Monza or Silverstone and compared it with the sixty quid we had paid for our two tickets to Monaco. The Mille Miglia costs nothing! Both Monaco and the Mille Miglia start had been fantastic and we still had the end to enjoy! Monaco was racing. It was thrilling being in that very intimate race track surrounded by unbelievable noise and being able to watch the drivers battle with their cars to shimmy through the chicane. By contrast the Mille Miglia was more sedate like one very long pit walk as you really got in amongst the cars and drivers, whom you could chat with, or just watch as they did some last unite tinkering. The two experiences – the Monaco Historique GP and The Mille Miglia, complimented each other perfectly.

Also both events had lots of cars from my favourite eras the fifties and sixties when the cars took their styling cues from a woman’s body – all beautiful curves and cars had hips and waists and… Goodnight it’s my bedtime.


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Monaco Grand Prix Historique 2014

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May 2014 saw us undertake a rather special road trip in our 2008 Opel GT. Our trip consisted of 5 nights in the South of France at Port Cogolin, 4 nights in Brescia, 3 nights in Venice and 4 nights in the Dolomites in the South Tyrol region. On this trip we were watching the Monaco Grand Prix Historique and the famous Mille Miglia race from Brescia to Rome and back. Finally we were meeting 9 other car enthusiasts in the Dolomites who also had Opel GTs to do some driving and exploring of some passes in the Dolomites. It proved to be a simply marvellous holiday and you can read the full holiday diary on our sister site PhotoBeast here. Here though are some photographs and recollection from our trip to the Monaco Grand Prix Historique.

Sunday 11th May – A Day At The Monaco Historique Grand Prix

Monaco can be a tricky and busy place to get into with a car at the best of times, but with a Grand Prix on it would be a nightmare. Peanut’s plan then was to drive to Beaulieu sur Mer, which is about 8 miles shy of Monaco and from there catch the train to Monaco. To have a full day in Monaco and a good run in the Opel the alarm went off at 5.15 am! Gulp!

The plan worked perfectly and with no traffic hold ups whatsoever on our drive to Beaulieu Sur Mer, we arrived there at 7.30 in the morning. The station car park was empty and for icing on the cake, as it was Sunday, it was free! The hardest part of Peanut’s travel plan was getting the train tickets out of the platform ticket machine. Finally we succeeded and at 10 euros for two return tickets we could hardly complain. 10 minutes later we were in Monte Carlo out of the underground train station and seeking breakfast. We found a small cafe with some Grand Prix types in overalls already there and indulged ourselves with croissants and hot chocolate. In truth this really was a very civilised way to go and watch a Grand Prix – no queuing, no being stuck in traffic, just croissants in the sunshine! The weather was set to be perfect, warm but not too hot at 25C by the afternoon. We had seating in stand K6 but not allocated seating, so we went in to have a quick peep at what was going on on the track, and also how the seating was looking. It was still early so not a lot to see, we just admired the wonderful setting for this race, looking over the port and then we came out again and had a wander around.

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We thought we might find some stalls to browse for mementos but while they were there it was not like Le Mans where there is just so much to see and do away from the track. We did get ourselves a poster and then picked up some more drinks and a baguette and returned to our stand seats to watch some racing. The series B race for F1 and F 2 cars of 1961 was just kicking off and this certainly whetted our appetite for the Monaco Historique Grand Prix. Our seats had a great view of the chicane by the swimming pool just by the port side and it was brilliant watching the cars slalom through this. The races start just behind our stand so cars were roaring past us 20 yards behind us and then twenty yards in front of us as they navigated the chicane and the noise of the cars was absolutely, totally, utterly deafening! The port of Monaco is surrounded by hills and it forms a natural echo chamber, so I really can’t stress how loud the cars were. We thought they were loud at Le Mans but this was in a whole different league of loudness. From now on, every time I fail to hear what Mrs P says it will be blamed on this Grand Prix! Commentators kept you up to speed with all events, but the French one had two things so not going for him – well three really, let’s not forget that he was French! First he had a relentless quality about him. Once he started he never, shut up and never paused for breath. Secondly he was on a mission to prove that the racing cars were not the loudest things in Monaco on this glorious Sunday. Actually they were, but by God he was a close second.

The series B race was won by a Brit. The race before that, which we caught the tale end of was also won by a Brit. The races usually are about ten laps so not too long. So in short it was great fun constantly leaping to attention each time they played the National Anthem! We then watched the Series D race for cars from 1961 to 1965 and saw another Brit cruise to victory. By the end of the day, because there were so many British drivers there, they had played the National Anthem a lot! We loved it!

Deafened by racing cars and one particular French commentator, and starting to overheat in the sun we decided to have a wander and see what was happening up by the Casino. We found a lift to take us up there, but to be honest there was not a lot for us to see (i.e. I couldn’t even get close to a Chopard watch shop) so we headed back. Unfortunately after trekking back to the lift we came up in, we were not allowed to use it to go back down and had to use the lifts at the railway station. This involved some serious walking and climbing of damnably steep steps before we could get down. On the one hand I was seriously not amused by this but on the other hand, as a bloke with a one way ticket in the health department, I was frankly rather impressed with how easily I coped with it!

Eventually, we got back to our seats and with perfect timing a man came round selling chicken and cheese baguettes, beer and water. So we had some of each and settled down to watch the racing. The baguette by the way was delicious! We saw the end of one race and then watched the whole of the Series C race which was very exciting to watch, as you could see the drivers doing their best to get every bit of performance from their motors, and there was a decent amount of overtaking too. With the cars being slimmer than modern F1 cars and not as fast, they suited the Monaco track better. One car went off track at the chicane to overtake another. it was exciting but he got a ten point penalty for the illegal manoeuvre. This was for cars from1952 to 1955 and they looked the most like road going cars to me, many being two seaters and lots of them had the humps on the back behind the driver, much like we have on our Opel GT. Maybe that was why these were my favourite cars of the day. There were a couple of Ferraris in the race, 225S’ and a 250MM which had covered cockpits, proper road cars in fact and the 1952 225S made me think of an old red bank robber’s Jag as it flew round the track evading the cops! Alex Buncombe, a Brit in a C- Type Jaguar XKC owned by Jaguar Heritage went on to win this great to watch race. God I enjoyed that National Anthem!

Time for another break. We went for a walk and explored the end of the K area we were in, where we found a cafe selling Nutella crepes and thought they would make a nice treat, which they did, washed down with coffee for me and Orangina for P. Then the Series E started.

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These were the early Formula One cars and by heck they were noisy. Bear in mind that we were sat eating our crepes about 25 feet from the trackside these were deafening as they shot by. We paid the bill and walked to the fence close to the point where they had to change down to corner. At this point we were no more than six feet away from the cars as they belted by and that was an experience like no other for me! We stayed a short while to watch and even grabbed some video but the noise being so unbelievably close to the cars, was indescribably loud, so we meandered back up to the stand. By the time this race had finished we had seen all we wanted to see, so we left the track and returned to the station to catch the train back to our Opel GT in Beaulieu Sur Mer.

It was still a beautiful day and understandably after a day at a Grand Prix we were in the mood for a nice drive, so we returned home on the coast road with the roof down and then had a blistering drive through the Estoril Hills, full of sweeping bends just made for our Opel GT. In my mind I was in the Series C race and while Mrs P indulged my fantasy, she drew the line at me donning my black and red leather racing gloves! A glorious end to a great day with only a snack and a glass of wine needed for supper. Oh and the penalty for lovely weather is mosquitos, and they were in abundance this evening, but you need something to pass the time with no TV or internet, so we killed some time mosquito swatting! My mind though was still in Monaco, so every fly swatted was a red flag and a safety car deployment. What a truly fantastic day.

Addendum. Thus far on this holiday Mrs P has demonstrated an impeccable level of good planning, the train from Beaulieu Sur Mer being a prime example. She has also been a brilliant co-driver and general good egg. Throughout she has been making sure I take all my tablets (8 per day) and made sure I had suitable sun protection on, as my skin due to the chemo is very sensitive to the sun. In truth I’m a bit high maintenance but Mrs P has been simply faultless.

And there lies the problem. A basic fact of life is that in truth all men are cocks. They just are. They go looking for bother and if they can’t find it they invent it. It’s always the bloke who causes the problem. Now obviously in my case, I am of course as close to perfect as a bloke can get but even I can have my cock moments. The problem then, was that it was three days now and I had had nothing and I mean nothing to grumble about. Clearly then, as you can imagine this was getting to me. Something had to give…

On our way home from the GP we pulled in for petrol. I put the fuel in and Peanut went to pay. I asked her to get some drinks, some sexy orange rather than just water for me. She emerged from the garage shop, looking triumphant with a can of Minute Maid in her hand. At last I thought she has slipped up… “Oh P why have you got a can instead of a bottle with a screw top? You know we have no drink holders, now I will have to drink it all at once for God’s sake!” (As you can see my almost perfect life had been challenged by this disaster).

“No problem” replied the unflappable Peanut, ” I’ll just poor it into this empty bottle.” My wonderful cool lady had just made me into a double cock. Once for being daft enough to whinge about such a trivial matter, and then once more for solving my dilemma so casually. Yep I love this girl, she is more than my equal!