SLS? GMR? Abbreviations galore this Sunday morning in the little harbour on the Dutch-Belgian border. Decor for a special stage in the SLS-rally is the local yacht wharf.
Today SLS stands or Spa-Luxembourg-Scheveningen and a four day classic car rally between these three benchmarks. On their way from Antwerp to the finish in Scheveningen, the entire circus passes through the little village of Walsoorden on the Dutch-Belgian border. A few streets, a concrete factory and a small harbour along the embankment of the river Westerschelde between Antwerp and the North Sea, that’s about it. And the hangars of Tradewind Yachts and Lion Classics of course, home to the GMR classic car club. The buildings on both sides of the road leading straight through the village to the dyke just ooze the right atmosphere. Boats of course, in all shapes and sizes. And an abundance of classic cars. Pre-war racers, an old Rover, a Citroën from the very early days. All surrounded by an ambiance that looks like a hodgepodge of over a hundred years of blacksmithing, tinkering and most of all, collecting. A unique location for a unique event, a hill climb on the flat lands of the delta.
In 2014 the 1/2 Mile of Walsoorden sprouts of the brains behind the GMR, aka the Pre-Supermarket-War Racing Team, as a prologue to the fifth anniversary of the local Dikes and Creeks Rally. The start on the gravel of the wharf leads through a hairpin to the road along the embankment. A sharp turn to the right takes the contestants to the top of the dyke, where a second hairpin brings them to a chicane just in front of the quay that takes just enough speed out of the cars to keep it dry. A quick spin around the harbour, passed the concrete silos and swiftly through the finishing arch. In the original version contestants had to do this trick twice, whilst the second time approaching the time of the first run as close as possible. Today the hillclimb is a regularity test as part of the four day SLS-rally and has to be perfect in just one go. The gentlemen behind the GMR really put out in providing the participants in the 2017 SLS-rally with a great welcome and of course rally stage. With success.
The 150 participants in this 54th SLS-rally drive up to 1700 excruciating kilometres through Belgium, Luxembourg, France and of course The Netherlands. The Half Mile of Walsoorden really being no more than a pin point in the route book. Nevertheless the tight time schedule makes sure that this regularity ain’t no piece of cake. Whether the Westerschelde embankment really forced a break through in the general classification we can’t say, but the extraordinary location sure left a permanent impression. A few hours later the participants finish on the Scheveningen boulevard through an impressive crowd. A great celebration to make forget the hardships of the past few days. If such is possible after the special stage in Walsoorden, I dare to doubt.
Marc GF Zaan