Everyone’s has a bucket list; a list of things to do before you “kick the bucket”. For some, it includes activities like skydiving, climbing a mountain, or visiting a far away place. For automotive enthusiasts, it usually involves attending a well-known event, driving a particular car or visiting a historical track. A good portion of my own list was completed in 11 days earlier this year.2 days at the Geneva Auto Salon 2 laps at Nürburgring aka "Green Hell"1 day at Brussels AutoworldFactory and Museum visits at:
Add a pit stop to checkout RedBull Hanger 7 and a few other non-automotive related places…all in the span of 11 days. It’s the ultimate European Automotive trip – if you’re looking to setup your own, here’s some insight as to how I made my list work:
Where do you want to go?
It’s going to be pretty basic for most car enthusiasts: Europe for European, Japan for JDM, and for domestic – you’ll most likely be checking out the Mid-West. The more you can get “done” in one spot the better. I opted for the Europe trip since I’m a European Car guy (with JDM roots) and the cluster of available manufacturers in one general area was high.
Map it out.
Now that you know which location you want to visit, what manufacturers, museums, tracks and tuners/specialty shops are there? I was fortunate enough to have some knowledge as to what was available in the area, in addition to having a friend in the industry help organize the trip itself.
Create a schedule.
How much time do you have? I had 14 days, which had to include travel time. This was effectively 11 days once on the ground so I created a calendar to template out each day and location as well as the time needed to travel to each spot. Google Maps is essential, especially when you’re planning a trip in a country in which you have no idea of distances between cities. Make sure you account for incidentals as well – the Nurburgring happened to be closed on the day we were scheduled (Thanks Audi, LOL) but luckily we had padded enough time to go back later in the trip. It’s important to be organized yet flexible with your time.
Or have some connections. You’d be surprised by the amount of enthusiasts that want to visit some of these places. For the most part, Audi, BMW and Mercedes were pay as you go. No need for an appointment or schedule – just show up and you can visit the museum. If you’re looking for a factory tour, you'd better schedule online. Ferrari was similar, but there were some other options available so if you’re planning on visiting, take a look online at the offerings. Lamborghini and Pagani were appointment only. You need to schedule these visits online, before your trip. Ruf and AMG – while you can wander around the lobby and such, you are best to be either an owner, a prospective owner or have some kind of connection.
Go with friends that share the same passion.
Cars 24/7 isn’t for everyone, hell – I would say even some of the most die-hard cars guys might get tired on a trip that was scheduled with nothing but car related activities for 2 weeks straight, so make sure whomever you invite is as hardcore as you are.
Just do it.
As the Nike slogan states – you’ve gotta just do it. Sometimes “later” becomes “never,” so don’t just plan it and think about it, go do it. I can tell you first hand, you won’t regret it.
Still not sure or have more questions? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do what I can to help you check off some items on your bucket list. For a more local road trip, check out Lori's Off-Roading at Carrizo Plain.