Monday, August 24, 2009

GP Suisse in Berne 2009 - what an amazing rolling museum

Between 1934 and 1958 Berne in Switzerland had its own race track (mostly/partially leveraging public roads) and organized Formula 1 and 2 Grand Prix races. Some of the world greatest drivers (Ascari, Fangio, Stuck, etc.) drove in Bern and some of most adventureous machinery such as the Auto Union race cars or the Mercedes silver arrows were campaigned in Berne and won races. There's so much history and tradition that at team decided to organize a memorial in 2009: The GP Suisse 2009.
The weekend August 22-23 was selected and an amazing collection of cars gathered to drive on a 8 km long track through public roads to basically demonstrate a rolling museum.
There were motorcycles, cars and even airplanes.
The spectators had certainly something to enjoy on the road. The organization decided for a quite lengthy track and therefore limited the number of laps each car could go. This resulted in some unhappy drivers not being able to race/roll as much as they liked and probably some visitors missing one or the other car.
The cars had to drive behind pace cars that were partially much too slow, so some cars got hot, some others just couldn't show what they really can do.
With 400+ cars and motorcycles creative solutions had to be found for organizing the paddock. Most of the cars had to be put in the parking house and public access was limited for a number of reasons. Again, many visitors though didn't get the opportunity to have a closer look at especially the sportscars, while the formula cars were residing outside.
What is really phantastic about this events is how close you can get to the cars and that for example you can watch the mechanics starting these grand machines. Also it's possible to talk to everybody and to meet people you haven't seen for ages.
For the drivers it's of course quite a bit of organization to get the car to the place, have it inspected and aproved, to finally only do some 4 or 5 laps. But I think most enjoyed it anyway. I at least did and in general the event can be considered a success.
Certainly some of the shortcomings of the event can be corrected by the organizers for next time.
I wouldn't for example separate specials and so called originals. And I would have the owners select title and name of the car. Organizers can always decide to not accept a car. Also I would try to shorten the track or have larger fields distributed on the track to better entertain the crowd.
I would ask the pace cars to drive at least an average of 80 km/h. The paddocks should be organized outside for all the cars and maybe it would be better to limit the number of cars and to give them more time on the track.
But there are many things I would not change, for example the wonderful selection of cars and having the action so close to the spectators. If you want to get an impression, then have a "look" at the enclosed soundbite. You can hear an Alfetta warming up its engine and then the Auto Union C-Typ starting the engine and the Mercedes W154 firing up. What a noise!

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