THE PERFECT DRIVE
by Herbert Tuck
18 October 2019
AFTER experiencing what are arguably the best driving roads in the world, what does one do? Of course, the natural answer would be to go on a wild search for equivocal roads through other counties.
So here I am, sitting in a pub in Ireland at 10pm after a 3 hour drive and experiencing some epic mountain passes and coastal routes, and yet, I still feel road envy.
The whole Ace Parade Grand Tour experience starts days before you actually embark on your journey; the itch to get out and hear the bark of your engine is almost unbearable, and still more so when on the first day of the Grand Tour all the participants congregate in a garage in the middle of medieval Schweinfurt, Germany watching your cars professionally wrapped to look the part. The results? Outstanding. The atmosphere? Electric.
The morning after applying stickers to the cars, exploring the city, and wine tasting at the Dahms Vineyard we all wake up bright and early to embark on what would be more than just mere miles on tarmac. This was the establishment of a great adventure and memories with what we all knew would mark the start of lasting friendships.
As we approached an airport runway a sense of what can only be described as iciness overcame some of us. A highly tuned EVO and a selection of German M cars line up to juke it out over a quarter mile and have a shot at the claiming victory over the AMG GTS, which we all knew to be the fastest car of our convoy in a straight line. However, the sheer power of the AMG's "hot-V" V8 overcame any mapping adjustments or optimal launches any rivals could muster.
And so on to the reason not why cars exist, but why some of us exists for cars. If any of you have driven in a group before, you would know the unspoken connection between drivers, people who you have only just met a handful of hours prior. The connection is real, and the sense of electricity translates to trepidation as you approach a valley with mountains so big, you almost feel sorry for your car. But the only way was up, as that was where our sumptuous beds lay, over the mountain in St. Moritz. And so up we ventured to the top of the Hahntennjoch Pass, initially trailed by an assortment of bikes, but were eventually left in our dust as we rushed to the top to be the first one to catch a glimpse of the majestic mountainscape. The view from the top was tantalising, the mood high, and the air thin, we all had caught the bug for more mountain roads.
And so, the journey continued, where a number of other passes were conquered, Flüela, Bernina, Maloja are some of the well-known names. The feeling of tyres against banked corners and the sound of hills coming alive with the sound of induction noises, turbo blow off and shrieking tyres is an experience best served to the real drivers, as these roads separate the brave from the weak after boys are left behind.
To conquer these roads with Ace Parade and keep up with the lead cars can only be achieved when every turn of the wheel is not a calculation, but a reflex of a calculation made seconds earlier and every bump and crease in the road can be felt in your haunches. To borrow an eloquent summary from a friend of mine and Ace Parade participant; “this is mechanical sympathy” where our cars become an extension of us, and we truly become drivers.
So here I am, finishing off this article, in another pub in Ireland after being the only car in sight to negotiate a beautiful single-track trail with crests and perfectly banked corners, wishing I had my Caterham. However, I am still left wondering and searching for the next best driving roads after the Swiss mountain passes. As beautiful as the Irish roads are, there was something missing. Was it the absence of my beloved Caterham? The lack of rolling Swiss mountains?
Although nothing in life is certain, I still ask myself if any roads can compare to those travelled on the Grand Tour. Maybe I will never truly know, but for now I think not.