Vintage Cape Horn 2013
An epic 6,000 kilometre adventure drive from Buenos Aires to Cape Horn through Argentina and Chile.
Day 1 - Tigre to Rosario
We're off and running.
A spectacular electrical storm with heavy rain overnight brought the temperature down a few of degrees in Buenos Aires but did nothing to dampen the spirit of the rally. Today it all begins, the planning, the building and the packing all comes to this.
The start of the adventure, with a strong wind blowing and thick dark clouds overhead - but thankfully no more rain - the crews boarded the buses to take them back to the Tigre Art Museum to collect their cars and start the clocks ticking.
Once at the museum however, the first job for most of the open car crews was to drain their sodden tonneau covers and mop out the foot wells. So much for the romance of open air motoring.
Barbara Philips from car 5 busied herself making espresso coffee on a camping stove while others debated the clothing choice for the day, rolled up their oil mats and checked all manner of things from fluids to wheel nuts. Melinda Raker (in a Ford) bumped into Andy Bentley, an Argentinian taxi driver (with a Hyundai) and an old friend of their son Henry. We also learned from her that the three Ford Model A’s on the event are called Noddy (car 09), Betty (car 10) and Evita (car 11).
The 1924 Vauxhall 30/98 of Charles and Missy Stuart Menteth started with the first turn of the key and soon the entire car park was filled with the burbles, throbs and rumbles of the Rally. It sounded like it was going to be a good day whatever the weather held in store. Indeed it was very blustery and grey as we waited for the off but with five minutes to go the sun came out once and for all and the mercury started climbing to the levels we've been used too over the last few days.
At 12.01 Arthur and Anna Manners in their 1927 Oldsmobile were flagged away through the gates of the Museo down an avenue of well pollarded plane trees and onto the busy Argentinian freeway system, well surfaced and with truck traffic thinning with every passing km. It was still very windy though and some of the open car crews were lucky to escape with their wigs and toupees intact. Monica Pothoven from the 1935 Bentley Derby in fact lost her hat at one point but her husband Olaf gallantly returned to retrieve it. Under this sort of sun it's essential to have something on top.
Heading roughly North West we were treated to a vast and fantastic lush landscape of rolling green grasslands with evidence of cereal cultivation, fruit trees and some livestock. These open prairies made some of us think we were back in Siberia, the American West or even Norfolk as adverts for pest resistant crops and farm machinery kept us entertained whilst the well flagged roadside fruit sellers tempted us with their wares!
At the Passage control in Baradero, windswept groups of rally drivers arrived for coffee and snacks after 132km on the open road. The mood was upbeat however and in the long roadworks immediately after the Rally gave the trabajadores something to look at. It's not everyday 35 amazing cars come this way.
Finally after 234km we left the province of Buenos Aires and entered Santa Fe Province. Now we feel we're on our way into a wilder South America and as if to prove our point a gaucho with a herd of horses trotted along side the carriageway.
The test for today was a session at the municipal race track which gave the drivers a chance to stretch themselves, have a little fun and play at being their very own South American racing driver. We sat back in the sun and watched as suspension compressed, wheels squealed and grins widened.
We also witnessed one more minor headwear incident here when Gerard Besson of car 07 lost his hat through the open drivers window but had time enough in hand to stop, run back down the track retrieve the wayward headwear before continuing to the finish.
With only 18km to go to the hotel from the test most of the crews felt that they were home and dry for the day, not so Alastair Caldwell however whose 1968 Mercedes 280SL had developed a head gasket problem. Alastair thinks that poor quality fuel was to blame but whatever the reason it looks like he’ll be back tomorrow as the sweep crew worked late into the night to fix the problem.
Also, we’re still waiting for two of our number, Udo Bichler and Antony Edwards are playing catch up in their Buick as are Michael Maedel and Roy Haddad in their Jaguar. The word is that they’ve made the necessary repairs and are on their way to join us.
The mood around the bar and in the dining room tonight was one of satisfaction, a feeling that the day had been a good one. Alastair Caldwell has taken the lead in the Classics category despite his problems whilst David Williams is sitting in first place Vintageant.