The thirteenth ‘Hasten Historic’ vintage rally took place on 24 June 2017. This year, I assumed the role of tour leader for the popular event, which is well-known way beyond the region “Bergisches Land” where it is taking place. Amongst other things, my duties included working out a suitable route and keeping a road book, which contained ‘pacenotes’ – shorthand descriptions of the route used in rallying – and various maps showing the route. I decided to set up a checkpoint right in front of the main entrance of ‘my’ company, MANN+HUMMEL Vokes Air in Sprockhövel.

Amongst other things, the rally participants had to drive around in the industrial zone “Stefansbecke” and to follow various dots, lines and arrows in the correct order. These had been shown for example in an aerial photograph we had provided with the road book. Those who successfully completed the task were given a stamp on their control card. All those who did not follow the correct route or arrived at the checkpoint from the wrong direction were given a different stamp, this one in the shape of a camel. The official at the checkpoint had a great time observing the looks on the participants’ faces, some of them extremely bewildered.

Skills to reach the finish line

By the morning of the rally, almost 100 vehicles resp. teams had arrived at the start. After the requisite administrative checks had been carried out, everyone shared an enjoyable breakfast before the rally got under way. The first challenge the participants faced right after the departure was to complete a ‘target time’ section, in which they had to “drive approx. 120 meters in exactly 30 seconds”.

The main route, which had been slightly extended for this year’s event to 170 kilometres, passed through Hattingen and Sprockhövel amongst other destinations. The streets and traffic lights of Solingen and Gevelsberg also had to be accepted this year but I am sure that the numerous, magnificent views provided by the countryside in the Niederbergisches Land, including the chalk-pits in Wülfrath, have been able to compensate the stop and go in the towns. The section of the route that passed through the historic town centre of the ‘book town’ Langenberg is likely to be a highlight, not only for the participants, but also for many spectators who gathered there to see the old cars.

After completing the stint that passed Solingen, Wülfrath, Velbert and the valley Wodantal, all the teams met, more-or-less on time, for a beautifully catered lunch break at the Porsche Centre in Wuppertal. In the afternoon, the rally then headed through the Elfringhauser Schweiz region to the former site of the old steelworks, which now houses the Henrichshütte industrial museum. Once there, the participants not only had to solve a tricky navigational task, they also had to simultaneously complete a time section, i.e. drive an unknown destination and pass the finish line, whenever it appeared, only in a full minute or a half. While in sporting and rallying terms the task was exclusively based on the use of pacenotes and map-reading skills, the participants in this ‘touristic’ stage, who were able to find their way relatively easy thanks to detailed descriptions in their roadbook. They also had to solve some additional exercises or answer questions. For example, stating the tread depth of their right-hand rear tyre, being able to give the mileage of their vehicles or naming a town by just knowing the letter combinations of the corresponding number plates. There was a colourful mixture of tasks, which presented a challenge, whether large or small, for all participants.

At the final destination in the Rathausplatz (town hall square) in Remscheid many of the teams seemed quite relaxed; others, not so much! However, by the time everyone arrived for dinner at the Remscheider Bräu brewery, all the stresses of the day were long forgotten as the victors celebrated their achievements and claimed their trophy.

The Hasten Historic will return next year, and let’s just say this: the preparations have already begun!