Monthly Archives: October 2012


120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-14

Gnnnf…..I….do….need…..more…….gnnnf….power……more……torque…..damn! Curve is coming, curve is coming. Tuck in head, trying to get a glimpse of what might come from above, anticipating what will come next. Down shift, push metal, hoping for those revs, where is the turbo? One more shift, click clack, whirring cogs, screaming engine, full lock, ….old_imageslmost there….made it. Another hairpin and still many more to come. This hurts, this soaks energy, this is fun! Welcome to Pass Masters.

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-11

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-12

Driving a car on the autobahn at high speeds is exciting, this weekend though we play a different ball game. It is all about curves, altitude and a magnificent scenery. ….., our playground a twisty strip of tarmac, draped over the Alps.

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-17

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-18

Our destination? Who cares, these days are made for driving. We will cross borders, visit four countries within two days, but most of all scratch some limits, be it grip or our own driving capabilities. Timing, rhythm, tempo. Mastering the passes is like a dance. Get into the groove and you experience a high where everything seems so easy. Get thrown out of it and things can become nasty very quickly.

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-08

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-16

This years edition I have joined the Pass Masters crew with a co driver at my side. The right decision. Before I get too excited I hear a voice. "Kodak moment!" My co driver seems to have guardian angel qualities. At yet another of many summits we find ourselves snapping some fresh air and enjoying the scenery. We wait for the colorful train of cars to pass by to shoot some pictures. When the road seems clear we jump in the car, slam the doors and hit the metal for another set of custom cut curves.


120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-15

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-13

Atlantis, Shambhala, Stelvio

Some myths will always be a secret.  Not stelvio, the gods offered me a sneak peak
and I enjoyed every piece of it.

It all started when my phone rang. It was Matty: “Michiel is
it you?”. I replied:  “I’m taking a leak”.
Matty:  “Are you alone?” I: “Dude, that’s
a sick thought!”. Anyway, as the discussion continued it converted to the core.
Matty said: “I’m looking for a co-pilot at this year’s Passmasters, are you
in?”  BAM!

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-09

We woke up, touched by the sun.  The sun would be our guide for the next three
days.  Firstly it led us to the
Pinakothek in Munich. The private parking was filled with dozens of beautiful
cars. An unorthodox mix of cars: All kinds of 911’s, Ferraris varying from
Dinos to brand new 458s, vintage Celicas, Gallardos in all colors, a
Roadrunner, Customized Elises, lots of Audis and so on. Their passionate
drivers proudly presented their cars to each other and to enthusiastic commuters.

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-07

All ingredients were there: the sun, the cars, the people
and the mountains. Let’s hit the road! As we moved our way out of Munich the environment
changed. More mountains, less traffic.  That
day we hit three mountain passes. We outnumbered the Indianapolis 500 concerning
left corners. The atmosphere, the cars, the music and our brotherhood. Not bad
for a day’s drive.

Then a barrier brutally stopped  the driving experience.  Suddenly  I heard Steve at the other side rev up the
V10. Seconds later I looked up mountain and saw a glimpse of his white R8
racing towards the eternal snow. More cars followed, like green-, orange-,
yellow- and red bullets on a greyish canvas.  

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-03

Later that night we gathered in Silandro. A hidden piece of
Austria in Italy. Pizza in Tirol. Chianty-redbull, Hitlolini, Steyrari. The
pizza was great, the talks even greater. What would tomorrow bring us?

Tomorrow brought us a lot. Österei and bacon for breakfast.
Watching the mountains; supposed to lead us to Switzerland. Did you say
Switzerland? Don’t you need a passport for that? Do you have one with you? No?
Good luck!

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-05

Nevertheless we took off. The whole village came out to wave
us goodbye. We left and right and left again and there it was: Stelvio; the
most beautiful road I’ve ever been. 48 hairpins bringing us to the top of the
eastern Alps. 2758 meters above sea level . Imagine to be one of those cyclists
and being overtaken by 80 cars from the book “most desirable cars of the
world”. Imagine to be in one of those cars. Stick shifting your way through
kamikaze cyclists in a scenery that could easily match a crater on the moon.

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-06

The Swiss are nice flexible people so why worry, not having
a passport? Indeed. Nevertheless we took as much precautions as possible, left
the tarmac at the Umbrail and never saw any customs. At a comfortable distance
of the border we stopped in a graveled hairpin to enjoy seeing our new buddy’s
slide through it. The Lambo’s did, just like the vintage Alpina.

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-04

We overtook, drove, stopped and watered a creek just before
entering Davos. It felt like attending the world caronomic forum. The sun
played with the cars. Three decades of car history beautiful y lined up in
front of the local pool “eau-la-la”.  

We hit the roads again and entered a surreal environment of
huge rocks and steep cliffs. We stopped at the Munt la Schera Tunnel. I watched
a sign saying  “only wide enough for a
single vehicle”.  Our buddies gathered
behind us. Together we stared at the red light. It became green 15 minutes
later.  We started the car, entered the
small tube, opened our windows and enjoyed the cylinder symphonies around us.
Three kilometers later a huge lake appeared in front of us.


“Welcome to Livigno”. Never heard of the place. Never realized
we left Swiss again, but happy nobody asked for my passport. We stopped for a
traffic jam of fun cars, all waiting for a gas station. We filled up the car
for less than a euro per liter. Still dazzled by the symphonies, the
surrounding and the fact that we had our windows open in the tunnel, I did not
realize we were in some kind of tax-heaven. It all came clear to me when the
ultimate clean vintage 911 (wow!) had to show his passport at the Italian
border. Que?! Yes, passport and Italian border. Shit! In a split second I imagined
a future in the tax-heaven-beautiful-yet-boring village. It was too late to
hide myself in the trunk.  I put on my
most trustworthy face, smiled at the officer and was allowed into Italia. 2-0

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-01

Back in süd-Tirol we had a great garden BBQ. The cars, the petrol
heads,  the stories: “sorry guys I had to
overtake you that rude to keep up with my Boss” or “we we’re drifting so extreme
I only looked through my side window today”.  It became a long night …

120707-Carfreax-Pass Masters-02

I realized this was an exceptional trip, perfectly organized
by some thru passionate people. Special thanks to Stevie. Wonder how he took
the stress and still kept smiling.

The following morning, we wrapped up, said goodbye and head
home. As the mountains got lower,  home
came closer. Some of the secrets of Stelvio have been revealed, but many still
need some exploration. And I volunteer!