Thursday, 30 May 2013

2013 - Lamborghini 50th Tour - Tour number 4 - Loro to Monaco via Factory

I'm at Donington (and a bit of Alton Towers) whilst the Euro Trip continues.

Fab Trip

19th to 20th MAY

Got an offer I couldn't refuse, how would I like to use Tris's Countach in Italy with Dave Bell (ace supercar technician from Autolinkgarage Newcastle) who I'd shared many a pint with on Geneva 'Show and Snow' events "trademark pending". Well it took me all of 10 seconds; not only that but Cov said we could use his apartment in Loro.  A quick look at Ryanair to Pisa and a hire car to get to  Loro Ciuffena-, £103 all in for two of us. Bargain of the century. However the little Panda had more traveling  to do than I thought.


When we picked BLASST up from a couple of lovely ex-pats organised by Neil Bowers in Loro,  we found out the plan had changed and the Lambo was now wanted in Monaco!!!!! The little Panda hire car has some work to do this weekend.  Tris suspected the brakes were binding so I checked them out with Dave, nothing serious, so we went sightseeing to Florence.  You can't begin to imagine the stir a Countach causes in Italy, winding down busy cobbled streets; the noise echoing from the walls as we carved our way through milling crowds; no end of one way streets to the only parking space in Florence was amazing. We finished the day with a fabulous visit to Arezzo  a beautiful town surrounded by an impressive Roman wall. Back home, bite to eat with Neil and Linda Bowers and another night at Cov's place.

Cov's appartment outside Loro Ciufenna

Up early the next day and Dave and I travelled to S Agata Bolognese, where BLASST was made almost thirty years ago, funny how many little hatchbacks want to mix it with a Countach.... they didn't ..... We caused a stir putting it in the Factory  car park,  god its loud even just parking it.
S Agata on route to the Factory

Factory Visit no 2

Dave and I asked at reception where the museum and factory tour was, we posed for a few photos and followed a group of visitors to the factory tour, was well impressed with the freedom to explore the factory, we saw a new Aventator coming off the line and filling up for the first time, lots of visitors dressed casually were milling around, busy we thought, Dave and I wandered over to the cafeteria and noticed there were an awful lot of visitors in there already....  As we were trying to figure out the way in, a gentleman came over and introduced himself as Valentino Balboni, he asked if we were in the Countach we said yes and wondered were the museum was, he pointed to the big doors we came through and said the factory tour was out there too and he would show us, meanwhile did we need lunch. We had a very pleasant lunch in the Staff canteen with Lamborghini's most famous test driver and finally realised that somehow we had been in the factory on our own!  Valentino organised the actual factory tour for us which is highly recommended, what a nice guy.

Dave and I were up next day at the crack of dawn with Monaco in our sights , but unfortunately I had to drive the little Fiat Panda from very near Florence down to Monaco whilst Dave drove the Countach. I was always in front so Dave didn't lose me,  but for over 200 miles I couldn't shake off two guys in a Citroen Berlingo van with ladders on the roof, they must have been mystified how a 1.2 Panda could stay in from of a Countach for so long, I was mystified how the van could maintain a steady 80mph and that Italian workmen will travel over 200 miles to a job. We left the Lambo in a hotel car parkin Monaco for Tris to use during the GP weekend, she did well, never missed a beat did well over 700 miles in 3 days, unforgettable.

2013 - Lamborghini 50th Tour - Tour number 3 - Ferruccio's Vineyard

Day number 2 from Dave, whilst I'm at work..... hmm  Just not on.

Lamborghini Wine anybody?

Today we drove from our hotel in Convoy (10 cars) to Patrizia Lamborghini’s vineyard and resort in Panicorola, to meet with the rest of the participants.

There we met Ferruccio’s widow.
Ferruccio Lamborghini's widow welcomes the tour
A small local museum is located their and Gino had drove the only Lamborghini that Ferruccio bought new from Sweden - a white LP500S.
The only Lambo Ferruccio ever owned himself. A Countach
After a look around the museum and a short video display, we then had a tour around the cellars (there’s a lot of unused capacity as Ferruccio thought he would initially become part of a local conglomerate of wine producers), and this was where we had a rather nice lunch of local meat, cheese, cake and of course wine.
A small photo shoot then took place.
Blasst at home with her family
Following lunch we drove in convoy to Lago di Trasimeno, for a boat trip to Isola Maggiore. There we enjoyed a beer and a walk around the island.
Then it was back to the hotel and another meal out at the other hotel.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

2013 - Lamborghini 50th Tour - Tour number 3 including a Christening

Whilst I was searching for a bag in the streets of Bologna and enjoying the hospitality, or not, from British Airways, my Lambo 50 co-pilot was preparing for tour number three for Blasst.  The Lamborghini Family Tour down at the lake just south of our Rome to Bologna lunch stop.  Therefore he returns to Loro Ciufenna and the Bowers/Cavoto clan to meet up with my usual rally partner, and intermarque championship co-driver Mark Cavoto (Cov) who has just arrived from Buxton.

Over to David for the updates:

After a busy night at the Factory Party, Tris was heading home via BA, and I was returning to the quiet factory car park to pick up the Countach for the next leg of its Journey…. to the FerruccioDay2013 event with Cov.
First I had to drive the 2 hours to Loro Ciuffenna to meet up with Cov - negotiating the Motorway tolls in a RHD car is not easy at the best of times, but even more difficult when you know you have to jump out of the seat, and run around the car!
After 2 hours, I was in Loro but I had approached the old bridge from the wrong side and was unable to get across, after getting some very sketchy directions I ended up in a housing estate, getting flashed at by Uncle Neil, which was extremely fortunate.
A quick trip around the new bridge, and I was parked outside Neil and Linda’s house. A quick change of clothes and I was ready to go to the Christening…. that I’d been mysteriously invited too… in a Roman Catholic Church in another village.
View from Neil's new home in Loro Ciufenna

Leaving the Countach behind, I jumped in Neil’s car, to go to church with Neil, Linda and Lisa. The modern church was quite surprising, and so was the length of the service (about 25 minutes - no hymns or communion) followed by photographs everywhere.

Italian Christening for with the Bowers

We then quickly popped to Jonty’s wife’s parents house to wish everyone the best, negotiating the tight overgrown cambered entrance in both directions.
Amanda Bowers looking Cute

Topped up with fuel (always a mini adventure in itself) I jump into the passenger seat and let Cov drive us both down to the starting point for Tour number 3.  
About 1 hour later we arrived at our Hotel in Tuscany..
HOTEL BORGO TRE ROSEVia i palazzi, 5
53040 Valiano di Montepulciano (Siena)
View from the first hotel
After checking in, we then drove to 
Località I Giorgi
06061 Petrignano sul Lago (Perugia)
for a few drinks and snacks, and to meet some of the other guests including Olivier, Philippe, Jon and Sheryl (the latter 2 from Perth driving a hired Gallardo Performante).

Let's see how the family event compares with the factory tour...........  It's going to be a hard trip to follow....

Friday, 17 May 2013

2013 - Lamborghini 50th Tour - The trip home


That was one hell of a day at the factory. My head is definitely struggling a little but thankfully I've got a relaxing day planned. I'll have a late start, pop into the town to buy a big suitcase for all my junk and get a taxi direct to the airport, avoiding any delays in collecting the car from the factory. David will set-off at 10:30 to the factory and then straight to Loro Ciufenna for the Christening of Jonty Bowers daughter Amanda and join up with Mark Cavoto for the Lamborghini Family event just south of Florence.

We have a leasurely breakfast, chatting with Squires, Metcalf and the Wests; generally apologising for any embarrassment the Lambo London gang may have made the night before.

Mr Squires looking fully refreshed from the night before

I wave David off with a small gift for Cov to make up for the fact he missed the party.  I'm sure we could have blagged him into the factory if he had come straight up from Pisa when he landed.

Anniversary Wallet on it's way to Cavoto

Wandering around the city centre, there are no shops open, and definitely no where to buy bags.  Kristina and Alex West pass me in a taxi as they set-off to the airport.  I decide to pop into the train station (surely they will sell bags) before I head to the airport myself. 

There is no joy at the station so I jump into a taxi and text Alex to find me a shop at the airport.  There are two potentials. The Ferrari store and the Ducati store.  Surely they will sell bags, if a little expensive.  

Arriving at the airport I discover that neither stores sell bags so head direct to BA check-in for some advice.  Thankfully there is an answer.  A bag wrapping service is right next to the check-in desk and the attendant is happy to wrap my paper bag and suit carriers 

Wrap those bags

Once wrapped I return to the BA desk, just as the check-in girl departs for the boarding gate.  Be quick she says with a smile, my colleague will check you in.

Excellent, we are looking good, and I'm ready for the flight to Newcastle via LHR, or am I?

Unfortunately the pleasant agent has been replaced with the devil in drag.  'You're late' she barks. I know, but all good now.  'You have only requested one checked in bag, and have two'.. Hmm, this is sounding like a challenge.

I must now go and pay for an extra bag from somewhere upstairs.  Oh yes, and I must be quick.  Thanks

After a bit of running, I find the right desk and as it has a queue; I ask the 'closed' window if she could help me as I'm late. Unfortunately that is far too much like good service to be considered so I must await my turn......


Finally I get the receipt, plus a duplicate copy to hand into the check-in desk.  Joy.  I run back.

'You're late' I'm told again.  'No $h1t Sherlock'  I manage to hold back from shouting.  'Now I need the credit card you used to book the flight'  Arghhhhhhhh.  I throw 5 cards onto the desk.  Fingers crossed it's one of those then.  Thankfully it's the first she tries.

'You must now run to secuiruty' I'm informed.  'Why' I think, so you get the satisfaction of me missing by a whisker like a kid running for the bus.  'will you help me get through security?' I ask.  'No, you must go, quick, quick'.  

'your late'  I wonder why pet

Those who know me, will recognise that my only response to such a demand after the delay she has given me is to slowly and very precisely place each credit card back into my wallet one at a time before neatly folding my receipt for the additional bag into the envelope holding all of the paperwork required for my flight.

'go go' she shouts, 'you are going to miss your flight'.  'And why will that be?' I ask as I walk slowly away from the desk. Sod it, if I've missed it, I've missed it.  I'll just get the next flight.

Once through security, after the usual frisk, when all I'm wearing is a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, I finally get to the gate.  As luck would have it, Paul Young is waiting and the flight has been held for me.  Friendly check-in lady knew I was coming and kept it open.  I'll be home by 6pm tonight.  Still I decide to Instagram my disappointment with the check-in from BA.  I'm sure Karma will sort her out.
Hold that plane Mr Young 

Landing in Heathrow Terminal 5, I'm in no rush. I have 3 hours before the connecting flight.  I'm fully refreshed and ready for a relaxing drink in the bar.  Amazingly everything works in my favour.  I've met up with Rudy Hackett a professional basketball player who coaches in Italy.  We are fast tracked through immigration and security like true VIPs (I wonder if they ready my tweet?) 

Rudy Hackett

Wondering around the duty free I'm invited into the VIP area of Mapin & Webb  for drinks and snacks whilst trying on some of their 'exclusive' watch collection.  How does a 150k Zenith Christophe Columb 360 Tourbillon suit you sir?  Very Impressive, or the Ulysses Nardin Moonstruck, Jeager Le Coultre Chronograph or Bvlgari Octo?  I think I prefer the Jaeger. Finishing off with an invite to a Basel launch party in London next week it's all made for a very pleasant couple of hours before I jump on the flight to London.  Thanks guys.

Zenith Christophe Columb 360 Tourbillon

Ulysses Nardin Moonstruck
Jeager Le Coultre Chronograph
Jeager Le Coultre Chronograph

Bvlgari Octo

2013 - Lamborghini 50th Tour - The Factory Visit and Party

After all the driving it felt odd to wake up in Bologna with no need to rush.  Just to make sure I pop down to reception for confirmation.  In summary, Concours is on, you can watch it, or you can just relax and be ready for the drive to Sant Agata at 3pm sharp.  We must be dressed for a day at the factory followed by the evenings events, so long trousers plus shirt and jacket.  Hmm, now that will be a challenge in Blasst.  Think I'll change at the factory.

After relaxing for the morning, we pop over to the main square and catch the start of the concours awards.  Ferrari Racer and Miura driver Squires wins his class, and the Jota recreation proves it is definitely the loudest.  Whilst recording a piece to camera for Jeff, we are joined by Fabrizio Giugaro (who's father designed the Countach).  He is now Chairman of Giugaro and invites us to visit the next time we pass through Turin.

Fabrizio Giugaro and Tris with Blasst

Unfortunately we don't win the concours (funny that with the rear plate hanging on Garden Wire) but we do get a lot of attention when we fire her up.  Maybe not as loud as the Jota but just as rich.

Looking around the square we spot a turbo charged countach with a rather trick exhaust. Hmm, now that would be a good idea if I need to replace my existing exhaust.

Apparently it's a 4k back box, so insurance will have to cover that thank you very much. 

Yes, yes, yes, before I even cover the content for the next section.  I know the jacket and trousers are very bright, but hey we are in Italy, and that's how they roll.  Or maybe that's how an English twit who usually does either smart OR casual thinks they should roll.

Ignoring that, we have plenty to see.  The 1.5m Sesto Elemento is fab.  Love it, and access to the factory was great.  

Watching all the cars in various stages of construction is a real treat.  Especially when we can use our cameras

As we exit the factory, and after a full week of refusing to have a picture taken with Margareta (the official Lamborghini launch model and brand ambassador) she decides to demonstrate the quality of the leather used for the aventador seats. So, purely so I can share the quality of the craftsmanship of the stitching employed David thought we had better include a picture. 

We take a quick look into the Auction but decide we could probably make a good effort to recreate the art at home. Especially if we take a pic.

Much more for me was the compilation of all the movies which have featured a lamborghini over the years.  Italian Job is the obvious classic, however for me it has to be Cannonball run

On to the main event we are ushered into a huge banqueting suit with allocated seating.   Now how is that going to work when we have over 20 brits with silly flashing glasses.  

We decided to do a little arranging and amazingly we appear to be seated together. Amazing how that happens.

After the meal it was fantastic to see the Veneno and new Ecoista drive onto the stage, plus the opportunity to meet Balboni was fantastic

You could say we were starting to loosen up by now as the party got well underway.  Fantastic fireworks and partying like it's 1988 made us all feel a few years younger.  Epic night, and a fabulous celebration of the 'bad boy' of supercars.  We salute you Lamborghini.

Nno sure he's enjoying Mr Young as much as we are

Where ever I lay my hat...... that's my home.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Official Lamborghini day IV - watch out for our table with the flashing glasses

We didn't think the Lambo channel itself would approve of our attire but you can't miss those flashing glasses.  We bought pretty much all that were available from the street vendors in Bologna and passed them to the team. Lol.


2013 - Lamborghini 50th Anniversary Grande Giro - LP400 Crash into my LP500s

In car forward facing video of the moment the LP400 hits the rear of my LP500s.  We didn't have the rear camera running.  Driving slowly through a town.  What a useless driver this Austrian has proven to be.

You have to laugh at the timing of this comment (link)

Just browsing the web I spot the new headline 'Countach Kiss'  Not quite a Glaswegian Kiss but think it will stick.  Cheers GT Spirit