Euro Meet 2009 Revisited – Part Two

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Euro Meet 2009 Revisited Continues from Part One.

leftfootbraking on EuroMeet 2009: I quickly arrived back with the car and we off loaded our bags. At this stage I noticed that everyone else was washing and polishing their cars. Having covered over 2000km since home my Grand Prix White S2000 was only a few shades off Silverstone. I looked over the fence towards Jonathan who was almost finished washing his car. It was then I noticed that the sun was well gone and it was beginning to get dark. “You can’t leave it looking like that” he shouted, “Its dark, whose going to notice” I laughed, ” Every person with a camera will tomorrow” he replied, I knew by the look on Adams face that I had little choice. But washing a filthy white car in the dark was going to be a disaster.

Finding a large plastic container that the hotel staff used to carry the bed linen, I filled it with water and made my way back to the car. I quickly found out that filling the container was not a wise idea. As I walked back toward the car the hotel owner’s dog sprang out of nowhere and began to bark. He quickly turned tail on hearing me scream as half the ice cold water from the container soaked me from the waist down me. I was lucky that it was now dark enough to help hide my embarrassment. Opening the boot I remembered that I had no sponge or car shampoo, just a heap of polishing clothes and wax. I poured some of the wax into the container and swirled it around, then starting at the rear began to clean the heavy dirt off. Fearing the thoughts of waking up to a car that resembles a warped bar code, we washed the entire car 4 times. Adam was following my lead, when suddenly there was a bright flash behind us. Several of the German S2000 owners, where having a great laugh at what must have appeared like 2 caged lunatics in a tennis court washing a car in complete darkness. We joked and laughed as they took photos of us and traded tales of that days adventure. I don’t think they noticed that at no stage did I venture out from behind my car, until I knew that the camera was put away. I could almost see the photo caption ” Irelands only Euromeet attendee wets himself with excitement!!”

By the time we had finished it was back to the room for a quick splash and dash shower before going for dinner. Campo Sportivo Comunale was the venue for all our fun and games each evening. This is were the scale of the organization efforts became obvious. Entering this really impressive centre we were greeted by the sight of dozens of tables each one ready and waiting for the invasion of hungry travellers. A small army of catering staff worked tirelessly through out the whole weekend to ensure everyone was treat to the highest of Italian hospitality. Almost 450 people were flooding through the doors with the excitement of kindergarten children and taking their seats. The centre table was reserved for our very special guest of honour and the creative genius behind the NSX and S2000 Shigeru Uehara-san and his good friend, co-pilot and translator for the weekend Kotaro Yamamoto-san. Having such Very Important Guests in attendance illustrates the strength of relationship between Honda, their R&D design teams and their customers. Needless to say that food, drink and laughter flowed in equal measures over the next few hours. But all to soon our thoughts turned to the next morning’s early start and the adventures that lay ahead. I’m not entirely sure what time we went to bed at, I remember that it was late enough to be very tired, but early enough to know that the party was only getting started.

The next morning we were brought back to the land of the living from a much-needed nights sleep by the sound of music. The irony of this was even more pronounced as we stepped out onto the balcony of our room. Looking down on the giant inflatable Tag Heuer archway that marked the start line, Adam identified the track that woke us as Andy Williams Impossible Dream. This morning was to begin with the first car leaving for the motoring adventures at 9am. We got up, dressed, and fed and arrived out to the car about 8:45am. By the time we loaded the car, Adam put his sun tan lotion on and we manoeuvred out of the tennis court and arrived out to the road, the scene was amazing. Looking left and right as I inched towards the roundabout I couldn’t believe my eyes. 230 S2000s were gone, there was not a single car left. It was like a scene from a movie there was silence and I couldn’t hear a single Vtec engine anywhere!! I pulled up the roundabout and asked Furio who was been marshalling the grand opening ” Where is everyone?” his reply left me cold “All Gone” he said as he pointed along the lake side road “Thank you” I replied. We them had several things we needed to sort out. Firstly Adam was back on the maps and trying to program the sat nav, secondly I needed to try figure out which direction we needed to be going and see if I could even find the tail of the convoy. The only thing I knew for sure was that the first meeting point of the day was at Monte Bondone. We turned tail and quite literally headed for the hills. We swung a left at the top of the road and with Adam shouting directions we started to make our way through the village of Levico Terme. Our progress was stopped by a loud whistle as a shop owner wagged his finger at us for mistakenly driving the wrong way down a one way street, Doh!!. A few embarrassing minutes later and back on the main road with a better idea of the direction we needed to be heading, I put the foot down and started to make some time up.

Not knowing the exact route the rest had taken; I took the SS47 into Trento and on to the SS12 towards Monte Bondone. Arriving at the bottom of this famous Italian hill climb stage, I knew that we cut allot of the planned morning route out, so we were either very early or very late. Both of these were valid enough reasons for me to hit the maximum attack button, when faced with a road like this. This mesmerising ribbon of tar twists and turns its way to almost 2200 metres between several ski resorts. It was a much tighter road than any before with many first gear hairpins and second gear straights. Climbing our way towards the summit the Alpine forests gave way to snow covered ski slopes. Distracted by the sight of skiers gliding down the mountains in the distance I cut a 1st gear hairpin a bit to tight. Clipping the apex of this tight left-hander I spotted a car coming into the corner towards us. The previous few minutes of using all the road allowed me to forget that I should be driving on the right and I only remembered this as I read the words Carabinieri off the front of the oncoming Alfa Romeo only metres away from me. I was still mid-corner and only acceleration would resolve my problem and divert our collision course. It did but also created another; I passed the exit point of the corner back on the correct side of the road but with opposite lock just as the Carabinieri turned in. Both cops were staring at us as they drove through a plumb of Bridgestone’s finest tyre smoke. My heart was doing back flips as Adam laughed out “Calm down there Ted!!” My eyes were glued to my mirrors for the next few corners until I realised we weren’t being pursued. I was brought back to my senses by a shower of snow and ice as it landed on the road in front of us, followed suddenly a pair of skis and a head appeared just above us. It seems we caught their attention as much as they caught mine. So they came right to the edge of a 2.5 metre wall of snow that over shadowed the road to have a look. The arrival of skiers became more common as we made our way further up the mountain, many waving and snapping photos as we went.

The total length of this hill climb stage is just 17kms and it seemed to go by in a flash and the next thing I knew I was stopped behind a line of S2000s. The joy I felt of finding everyone again quickly dissolved as my heart sank, standing at the front of the line was more Carabinieri. Convinced that his colleagues would have contacted him about my earlier escapades I crawled towards him like a lamb to the slaughter. Each car rolled by him and when it was my turn our eyes locked and I turned rigid in the seat, he placed his hand on his radio and I could feel my chest tighten. With a quick flick of his fingers he turned the radios volume down, softened his stared and smiled and stood to the side. He gave us a wave and directed us into a huge car park with the rest of the cars. We had arrived within the first few cars we parked up and began to take pictures of the other cars arriving. The car park filled up quickly and cars began to use another car park just around the corner. In the distance we could see Jonathan and Elaine coming towards us, as they got closer Adam turn and asked for the car keys. I handed them to him and he brought the car back out on to the road and followed the others to the rear car park. I walked along the roadside taking photos of all the cars and shouting “Ciao” to everyone that looked my way. I entered the rear car park to find Adam reversing into a spot beside a 2009 Swiss registered Grand Prix White S2000. I smiled to myself as I admired how well my 1999 S2000 has aged over the last decade.

Standing there with a silly grin on my face I noticed the occupants of the Swiss registered S2000, the doors opened and out stepped Uehara-san and Yamamoto-san. Uehara-san turned and looked over my car, pointed to its registration and commented something to Yamamoto-san. The moment was so surreal I couldn’t even ask Yamamoto-san what he said, I was so amazed at seeing one of the first S2000s of April 1999 parked beside one of the last, March 2009 and in between them was standing the father of both. Standing there I realised something else, I was getting really hungry. So after tracking down Adam who was away taking photos we returned to the car and our reserve of food. Opening the boot we got a real surprise and a lesson in physics. Being at almost 2200 metres above sea level meant there was less dense air. To demonstrate this point the packets of crisps residing in our mobile kitchen had blown up like balloons. We laughed as we shook each packet and pretended to kick them like footballs. But hunger was more important and with a gush of air the bags were emptied and our bellies were full.

We finished our meals on wheels as the sound of engines began to fill the air. Like the start of a classic Le Mans race drivers and passengers scattered in all directions to a chorus of slamming doors. The snow-capped peak we were parked on trembled as everyone moved further towards the exit and out onto the road. The next stage was only a couple of kilometres to another large parking area beside a Ski resort. This venue gave us all a chance to use the toilets and one S2KUK member, dressed like a Nun and driving a Tiger stripped orange S2000 a chance to show that even on top of a frozen snow covered mountain that doing donuts can still create tornadoes of dust.

Back on the road and with Adam driving we were heading down the back of the mountain. This convoy was not as tight as the ones we’d been part off over the previous days, but no one wanted to be the cause of a 200+ car pile up. This was my first experience of being a passenger in my own car at high speed on twisty roads, but Adam never put a foot wrong and it wasn’t long before I was giggly like a child. The road down the mountain looked like it was designed by tying a pencil to a happy dogs tail and sitting him on a map, each straight getting longer and the hair pins bends tighter as we descended. Just like our canine road engineer our excitement increased as we neared the bottom and looked back up at the sight of the long high speed Vtec powered snake, making its way towards us.

To Be Continued…

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