In the Netherlands we have the RAI, an association best known for the AutoRAI, the largest annual automotive exhibition in the country. In later years the Amsterdam based car show became bi-annual until the recent total demise. Sadly, because the last one made believe the event was on the up again.
But there is more to the RAI as an association and there has been for a very long time. The abbreviation RAI stands for ‘Rijwiel en Automobiel Industrie’, or Bicycle and Car Industry in plain English. And yes, we do have an industry here in Holland. The RAI exists since 1893 and nowadays has 500 members. Manufacturers and importers of motor vehicles and trucks, trailers, coachwork, special vehicles, motor cycles, scooters and bicycles. Suppliers of parts and garage equipment are valued members of the RAI too.
Every year the RAI organises a classic rally, this year for the twentieth time. A rally like this can’t be driven alone, simply because the navigation requires quite the skill. On map navigation, using point-to-point or dot-arrow techniques, just isn’t something you can do from behind the wheel. In addition to that the road book contains pictures of on site situations. These are printed in the wrong sequence and you probably guessed it, they need to be put in the right order to prove you drove the rally in the right way. No wonder some teams brought a third person, you do need a lot of eyes to win this.
The departure proved very wet that particular morning. My Volvo 245’s windscreen wipers had a tough time coping with the torrential rain on our way to Baambrugge, the starting point of the rally. About 80 contesters gathered there, varying in age from a Citroën C3 Pick Up to a late model Donkervoort. From humble Beetle or Renault Dauphine to Bentley and Rolls Royce.
Daily drivers and pampered show cars. It was all there.
Every 30 seconds another car was sent of now the rain had finally stopped. We navigated our way from Baambrugge through Abcoude to the Drechtse Polder, going for the Bijlmer after all. The tunnel underneath the Arena, passing the Buiten-IJ in direction Durgerdam. Passed Hobrede, Oosthuizen, Schardam, Purmerend, Etersheim, Den Ilp and Landsmeer we reached Amsterdam North at last. Here at the Noordkade opposite the Java Island we were welcomed in restaurant The Gold Pheasant, where we could park the brick, which is my Volvo’s nickname, inside, quite the different experience. Not a pheasant in sight, by the way.
It was a good thing my wife Irma agreed to join me on this rally, making it a second time we’ve put ourselves through this kind of relation test. Because that is something these kinda things usually turn out to be. A task usually carried out by the yearly vacation trip, at least before the rise of sat-nav-systems. Husband driving the misses reading the map, telling him that last exit definitely was the one. We all know how that ends. Well this rally needed quite some navigation skills not forgetting the additional photo challenge. Trying to guess distances with the use of the odometer and what more. More than one reason to go berserk in the end. I can reassure you though, we went home together and no one started packing yet. It just proves even the easiest tours can be made into quite the challenge.
In the end the rally was won by husband and wife Patrick and Sandy Andriessen in a Volvo Amazon. We found ourselves somewhere in the middle of the pack, according to Hetty Louwaard from organizer Petrol&Wine. ‘Greenest Car’ was awarded to the owner of a Toyota Crown 2600 estate by Wim Oude Weernink. A rare classic indeed. The jury report emphasised on this manufacturers attempts to mass produce hybrid cars. The people there couldn’t but laugh at this. What followed was a nice catered gathering before everyone quietly made their way home. Dreaming of the next Annual RAI Rally.
text and pictures: Robbert Moree