Story by Pete Vack
All photos by Wico Mulder
A few days before Christmas, the citizens of Haarlem and Amsterdam witnessed one of the most unusual rallies ever conceived, the 100 Miles of Amsterdam, open only to prewar classics. It was another brainstorm of rally wizard Bart Kleyn, a full time rally organizer who had previously studied Molecular Sciences at the Agricultural University of Wageningen and then obtained a PhD in Oncology/Hematology at the University of Virginia.
Kleyn began his rally ventures back in 2005, establishing the Via Flaminia, a rally around Italy. These were events for postwar classics, attracting a large entry with fairly reliable cars. But in 2009 Kleyn added a very special prewar classic event, the 100 Miles of Amsterdam, a neat little affair run through cold, icy and slippery streets of Amsterdam at night. This year’s event was held on December 18, and the weather was great – for three days before the winter solstice – the temps never dropped below zero. Kleyn told us that “Traditionally, the Sunday night before Christmas is the night of one of the craziest rallies of the venue. Pre-war cars gather in the pitch-dark night in and around Amsterdam within a backdrop of a night lighted with Christmas decorations and snow flocks.”
It has developed into an event with international appeal, attracting some 6 Irish teams and 15 Brits who had taken the ferry to what from their perspective might seem “the warm continent”. Foreign participants were especially thrilled at the possibility of driving the Amsterdam canals but this thrill was tempered somewhat by participating in the raw eel eating test. Ah well, Do like the Dutch in Holland!
Said Kleyn, “On December 18, Some 57 cars had joined on the “Grote Markt” (big market) in central Haarlem, just outside Amsterdam. It was indeed warm with temperatures not dropping below freezing. In Amsterdam the cars were allowed to drive under the Rijksmuseum, a setting worth the many museum pieces coming through where even Obama was not allowed to drive during his visit. On the Amsterdam canals it was the bicycles who posed the biggest threat, however around Amsterdam it was thick and heavy fog that makes driving treacherous on one lane roads meandering over dikes. Only one of the participating cars could not distinguish between asphalt and mud and had to be towed back on the road.”
The Christmas event in Amsterdam not only closes out the year but launches a series of events for 2017. Kleyn continues to add events to the calendar. As it grew, the hobby of organizing rallies became a full time occupation. How he does it no one knows, but he receives many emails from grateful participants who never fail to tell him how well organized his events are. “Thank you for a great rally really enjoyed it the hospitality was amazing it was great to meet up with old friends and familiar faces. The rally very well organized will be back next year. It was well worth the 1400 miles round trip,” wrote Triumph Gloria driver Sean Bramhall of this year’s 100 miles of Amsterdam.
The best performer on this year’s 100 Miles of Amsterdam was Nooteboom and Belser in a 1921 Stutz. As the 100 Miles of Amsterdam is a competition with an emphasis on originality, the first prize went to the 1908 Lane Steamcar.
Having got the taste of pre-war rallying with the 100 Miles of Amsterdam in 2009, Bart started to plan for a pre-war Via Flaminia in Italy. On the first event, in 2011, he was lucky enough to have a 1907 Itala (a look alike of the 1907 Paris to Peking winning car) and a 1914 Lancia Theta among the many participants.
In 2017, Bart will hold the Via Flaminia Classic in May, the Via Iberica Prewar in June, the Via Flaminia Cincaqento in July, (for those without their own rally car) and the Via Hellenica through Greece in September.
Eligibility for the 100 Miles of Amsterdam: Any three or four wheeled motor car registered prior to December 31st, 1939 and which is road-legal in the Netherlands. The Organizers may refuse a car not complying with the period in spirit and in appearance. Competing vehicles must be of authentic period specification. This means that major elements of the vehicle – normally the chassis, engine, front- and rear axle – must be the original period item(s). All other elements must be of appearance, design, materials and dimensions known to have existed during the period of the Age Category for which the vehicle is entered. All the state of the art equipment is allowed, as long as it is pre-1940, so no modern Halda tripmasters, etc.
More stories about Bart Kleyn’s rallies can be read via the below links: