20. September 2007 – Day 0 Torpedo Run
Thanks to Torpedo Run organiser Christian we secured a spot on the grid of this automotive adventure. Our car of choice was a 2007 Mini Cooper S. A lot of the participants were quiet nervous, if everything would be okay…. But the Torpedo Run is different from most other rallies. That’s the reason the German government gave the official okay for the Torpedo Run and the Torpedo Run was the only rally allowed to drive across West-Germany this year..
On Thursday everything started for me: My things were packed, batteries for the camera were charged. Navigation system (as far I could) programmed and off with the train to Ahaus, where I met up with Des. After the arrival at Ahaus, Des picked me up with the Mini and we drove to the “Ratshotel Ahaus” to check-in and ditch the luggage. Soon we were back on the road to get the car washed as the organisers requested the cars to be clean before the stickers were applied. A washbox, 5 euro and a lot of water and soap later the car was almost as dirty as before but we didn’t feel like doing it again so we drove to the rally check-in…
The Tobit Elements was a great location for the start. The participants had to park their cars in a hangar with an orginal military airplane hanging from the roof! A lot of ‘fans’ checked out the cars and welcomed the participants. Highlights were the Carrera GT, Dr. Tunnings CLP 5000 DTM, two Ferrari F430’s and the many Porsches. My personal favourite was the Porsche Turbo with the black TechArt rims. After checking out the other cars we finally met Christian, the organisator of the Torpedo Run. Later Sacha and Natasa (Team Nasa – Jaguar XKR) and Andy (Opel Speedster) joined us. Meanwhile outside our cars got the Torpedo Run stickers… but not for long. Police called Christian : the Torpedo Run stickers had to go and were not allowed to be on the cars in Germany otherwise the police would stop us the next day.
We decided to take the little break before the dinner to refuel. Andy joined us and found the Speedster a little bit bitchy when he started the engine. Sadly that was not the only thing: one of his rearlights was gone (no, I couldn’t resist one: ‘well it is an Opel’ joke) Back at the Tobit Elements even more people arrived to check what was going on!
We had dinner with Sacha and Natasa and the crew from Sat1. After dinner we were invited to have a little race on one of the driving simulators at Tobit. My driving with that kind of simulator was terrible… as always. After the race at the simulators we went back to the hangar to take more pictures and finally every participant arrived including the Lamborghini Diablo! With no party at the start location we called it an early night and drove to our hotel.
21. September 2007 – Day 1 Torpedo Run
Des skipped the breakfast to sleep 10 minutes longer (obligatory routine for Des…). At 8.20 am the drivers-meeting for the first day started. First destination was the ATP test-track at Papenburg! The police was present at the start to see if the organisers sticked with the rules the German government gave them in exchange for supporting and allowing the event. Most important was that we didn’t drive in convoy. To great joy Andy’s Speedster started up the first time in the morning. The highlight of the start was Nick’s Lambo Diablo: it scared a lot of people when the engine fired up, so loud is it!!!
The driving to Papenburg was good fun. No need for a satnav, we just had to follow the speed-traps and police cars on the side of the road, there was even a police car marking the highway exit we had to take for the testtrack. Andy had to stop once to ask for the route. He didn’t even have to ask the police officer where he has to go! The officer said without a question asked: ‘To Papenburg you have to drive straight’.
The test-track in Papenburg is fabulous! Sadly no cameras were allowed as all major car and tyre manufacturers use the testtrack to test their new cars and tyres. One part of the testtrack is built like a smaller version of the Hockenheimring. The Torpedo Run hired that part of the track and arranged for guided tours on the ATP’s 12 km long highspeed oval. The Cooper S did a great job on the track and when it started raining it was one of the fastest cars around the track thanks to it’s safe and slightly understeered behavior around the corners. Andy that showed a lot of the supercars a run for their money in his Speedster made a little tour in the gravel. Nothing serious, a little crack in the right mirror and a couple kilograms of stones that stuck in the wheels and undercarriage. We all nearly scent an attempt of illegal import of gravel to Luxembourg.
By the way, the Diablo was (thanks to the Autobahn-driving) even louder! After asking the driver: ‘ Nick, what have you done with your exhaust?’, we got the best reply of the weekend: ‘Removed it’
Afterwards, we had the honour to drive two laps on the oval with the co-organisator of the Torpedo Run, Andreas. The feeling of driving through the oval in the highest and fastest lane with more then 200 km/h is really great… Especially if the driver takes his hands of the steering wheel and the car remains in the lane through the corner! Then the time came to leave the track. All our stuff back in the Mini and off to Luxembourg. The Lamborghini had to refuel at the same time as we did and soon a crowd gathered around the Lamborghini. No-one even looked at the Porsches beside him!
Around Cologne we had our first traffic jam… eek. We decided for a little detour, which proved to be the right decision! On the way to Luxembourg we still saw many many speed-traps. But we took it very easy. Without any big probelms we arrived at ‘Le Royal’, one of the leading hotels of the world. Andy drove home to fix his light and replace the battery, after he checked in. We had to feed ourselfs first. The hotel only served a 25 € cheeseburger or 30 € clubsandwich and in the neighbourhood we couldn’t find any restaurant so we drove to the nearest Shell for food for the car and then continued to a McDonalds. McDonalds in Luxembourg are funny: the advertising was in German, the employees spoke French and as Des ordered in English; the chaos was complete.
Then we drove back to the hotel. The hotel was perfect; one of the leading hotels in the world. I took a long shower, while Des updated GTspirit. 28 Euro for 24 hours Internet: that is what I call cheap (sarcasm). We took dinner in the Restaurant ‘La fourchette a droite’ – the folk right. Yes, yes, yes, Des and I were late. The German translation of the menu was horrible, but the food was excellent! And that is the most important thing! In the meantime, Sacha and Natasa became our little Torpedo-Run TV-stars. The Sat1 team surprised us every second with new ideas of what they could film. Highlight was definitley the filming of Martin and Hansi saying ‘nice words’ to each other before toasting and Natasa in the kitchen of the restaurant. The chef of the restaurant showed Natasa the ‘placing of the potatoes for the Torpedo Club’. Respect Natasa! I would have been ready for the hospital after it, because of all the laughing! After it the whole group went to the ‘White’ Club, where most of the participants partied until deep in the night. Des interviewed Christian before it was bedtime for us. I was dog-tired….
22. September 2007 – Day 2 Torpedo Run
Never was the ringing of an alarm clock that cruel… But it didn’t help: had to get out of my nice warm bed. Des decided to take his obligatory 10 minutes of additional sleep. I went to have breakfast, where I only met Christian with his wife and Andy. Perhaps the others decided to take 10 more minutes sleep, too. Then we went to the garage, where we finally could sticker up the cars again! We met all in a convoy in the front of the hotel, where the film-crew filmed us all together. Since we were no longer driving in Germany we left all together and headed to the next checkpoint in Switserland. We drove together with Team Bavaria (Martin and Hansi with the F430), Team Nasa, Team rental Mercedes CLK 200 (Harry and friend) and Andy with his Speedster. We had plenty of fun!
After crossing the border into Switserland we stopped with Andy to wait for Martin and Hansi. After the caught up with us we guided them to the nearest gasstation, thank god for point of interest in the satnav. The first gasstation seemed like it was abandoned ages ago so we had to find another one for the Ferrari that was now running on the last zips of fuel left in the tank. But after a 10 minute quest and fuel / toilet break we were back on the road on the way to the Kart-Center in Roggwill. I would have bet my money on Martin (who did professional kart-driving in his youth) as winner. But one of our Swiss friends didn’t tell us that he drives in the Swiss-Kart-Championship. Sacha won with quite a lead, Martin and Hansi came second and third.
At the kart-center we said goodbye to the others who continued to Geneva and drove to Lake Garda the next morning for the finish party!
Driving back to Amsterdam with stopover in Germany…
To mention here is definitive the Austrian border. The customs-officer saw our pretty Torpedo Run stickers and became sceptical. ‘What do you want in Austria?’ Des decided it would be better not to joke… and answered a for the custom-officer disappointing: ‘Driving back home to Amsterdam.’ We got the feeling he missed out on his big bust during the Gumball 3000 and hoped he would get a second chance now, haha.
Then in Germany we had traffic jams all over the place. The completely closed off A45 was the worst part of the journey home. So the trip didn’t end for me on my doorstep but at the train station in Düsseldorf. And after a nightmare traintrip back home I finally decided to never ever take a train again.
Torpedo Run Result:
Tickets – Zero of course
Me searching my camera – 1000000 times (the Mini has no place to put stuff!)
Trying to speak German with Des – 1 time (he resisted to do it)
Speaking English with Germans – 2 times (how embarrassing)
Funfactor – undescribable!
Thanks a lot to the organisers and especially Christian! Torpedo Run was a blast!
Check out my pictures in our Torpedo Run gallery!