14 Feb Bernina Gran Turismo 2020
The year 2020 will go down as the worst year in post war history. The COVID-19 pandemic changed everybody’s life and the classic car world was no exception. Many events were cancelled or postponed and if taking place didn’t see the same international audience as in previous years due to travel restrictions.
The Bernina Grand Turismo hill climb outside of St. Moritz/Switzerland was one of the few events which took place as planned. I attended again as a sponsor to the event but this time also as a competitor in the regularity class with my 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS Touring.
As a special treat I joined the organizers in Holzkirchen, Bavaria from where we drove over mostly country roads through Austria into Switzerland and ultimately into St. Moritz. The cars in our group consisted of a 289 AC Shelby Cobra, a Lister Costin Jaguar sold by me to the proud owner several years ago, the Ferrari 342 America PF Speciale Coupe, presently for sale by Hamann Classic Cars and my viper green Porsche Carrera RS 2.7. We were blessed with abundant sunshine and arrived safely at La Rösa, the starting point of the Bernia Gran Turismo hillclimb, a tastefully restored coach station.
Host Hotel was, as in every year, The Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St. Moritz where technical scrutineering took place the next day. Due to Corona regulations no public was allowed and the cars were spread out generously on the lawn infront of the Hotel. Despite many competitors from the UK and abroad not being able to join due to travel restrictions it was still an impressive field. Much to the delight of many Motosport legend Arturo Merzario did drive an Abarth Sports racer in spectacular fashion.
There were as usual two timed practice runs on Saturday morning followed by two race events on Saturday afternoon and two on Sunday morning on closed roads. The section from La Rösa at 1,880 meters altitude takes the participants up to the finish line at Ospizio Bernina at an altitude of 2,328 meters over a distance of 5.7 kilometers with not less than 52 curves and bends.
While many of the competitors had mastered this challenging hill climb in previous years I was new to it. I did fairly well actually beating the time of the 289 Cobra by a margin I would’ve never imagined. I was hoping to improve my time on my last run but when shifting ahead of a hairpin turn I all of a sudden had the shifter knob in my hand, which spoiled my efforts. It is a fabulous intimate event and I already looking forward to the 2021 event which I will once again sponsor but also participant in as a competitor.