64 editions, you won’t find it any more Dutch. As always it finishes in Noordwijk, where everything and everyone gathers. The 2017 Tulip Rallye.
The 7th of May 2017 200 classic cars depart in the South German town of Tegernsee for a week long odyssee towards Noordwijk on Sea. Passing through Austria, Germany, France, Luxemburg and Belgium. Set out as an equivalent for other grand rally’s like the Monte Carlo and the Mille Miglia, the Tulip Rallye is Hollands big classic. Always departing on distant locations, returning home every single time. Big names entered and won the event, Patt Moss, Rosemary Smith and Walter Röhrl are all laureates of the Tulip Rallye. Winning isn’t about speed, it is all about regularity. No phones aboard the car, except for emergencies, no speeding. Navigators find their course using a thirty year old Michelin map with some added pitfalls. Now don’t think it’s an easy ride, stages can easily take 10 hours to complete. And oh, the car is supposed to date pre-1972. Put it all together and it is quite an undertaking.
The best part of traveling is returning home. Where drivers and navigators meet their loved ones they had to leave behind over a week ago. Of course, the rally isn’t all that grim. The hotels are splendid and lunches well taken care of. The intensity of driving a classic on unknown roads is a great adventure, but the home front will always be missed. At last there is Noordwijk. A sprint stage on the boulevard as the final charge. Start, stop, start again and finish exactly between two domes. A piece of cake after 2515 kilometers of driving. A speedy transfer to hotel Huis ter Duin, where family and friends are waiting.
At the hotel the organisation decorates the cars with, what else, tulips. A lady offers the rally drivers a glass of sparkling goodness to toast on accomplishing the task. Father and son toast, a couple give high fives, others pad each others shoulders. It is an emotional moment, it’s been heavy on everyone. And now it is all done. Tired of driving, but longing to meet those who were left behind. Kisses and caresses, hands are shook, hugs given. It is good to meet again after all these days. In the end drivers and navigators aren’t but fathers, mothers or grand parents even. A driver is but human.
An unexpected encounter for your CineCars reporter as well. We run into the navigator of an Alfa Romeo that we used to befriend in primary school. For years we played at his fathers dealership. Once out of primary school our ways separated, we both went our own ways. And now, over 40 years later, us men meet again. ‘Long time no see’, is the used understatement. The Tulip Rallye keeps people away from each other for a while, but it does bring’em back together as well. Sometimes after a really long time. In the end the long lost friend disappears inside, where the competitors are treated to their farewell dinner. The true finish of an exhausting ride. But everyone is thinking ‘we’ll meet again’. Next year, for sure!