Featured: The Bernina Gran Turismo Is The Best Event I've Been To All Year

The Bernina Gran Turismo Is The Best Event I’ve Been To All Year

By Ted Gushue
September 26, 2017

Photography by Ted Gushue

In my relatively short career at Petroliocious I’ve been exceptionally lucky in that which I’ve been able to witness with my own two eyes. Nearly each Goodwood event twice, some three times. The Mille Miglia in a 328 Berlin Rom Touring Roadster, the Monaco Historics, so on and so forth. But it wasn’t until I was standing atop the Bernina Pass, well above the Swiss resort town of St. Moritz that I truly needed a reality check.

The Bernina Pass is of course one of the greatest driving roads of all time. Countless switchbacks test even the most seasoned drivers’ mettle as they climb up or down any day of the year, but for this one special weekend each year, the organizers of the event coordinate with local authorities to completely shut the pass down to create one of the most sinister, stunning, and satisfying hillclimbs anywhere in the world.

Marco Makaus, former CEO of the Mille Miglia, first opened the event three years ago with his colleagues Florian Seidl, Luca Moiso and Claus Müeller, but the idea sprang to mind many years before that with their mutual Kurt Englehorn, who is the chief sponsor and patron to the event, “As a group of friends, we have enjoyed countless trips up and down the Bernina Pass over the years. It is truly one of life’s great winding roads,” Marco explained to me at the top of a windy Engadin couloir, looking down at Chris Ward and JD Classics’ GT40 tearing up the hill, “And now you get to hear the pure sound of classic race cars like the GT40 or the Ferrari Breadvan singing all the way up it for a weekend.”

If many of the cars look familiar in the photos I’ve captured, that’s because they are—nearly every car has experience in the major European classic events, with the aforementioned Chris Ward’s GT40 coming off of a recent win at Goodwood for instance. The mixture isn’t all six-figure purebreds however, there is a delightful mix of vintage Formula cars, and Fiats and Autobianchis that live locally are also given a coveted spot in the hill climb lineup.

All in all there are 70 entrants who are granted access to the Bernina Pass, which is to me what makes this one of the greatest events I’ve ever been to; by the end of the weekend I had heard the personal stories of nearly every single participant. We’d dined on delicious fondue together, shared schnapps together, frozen our asses off while the cars warmed up together. It was in my mind what I imagine Goodwood would have been like at the beginning, simple, pure, and filled with nothing but camaraderie for motoring passion. Where else in the world can you see a D-Type screaming up a mountain in between snowbanks? Who else would be mad enough to jump into a Formula Ford on a below-freezing day? These guys.

Needless to say, I will be back again next year, and I encourage all of you to do the same.

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Piotr Sarzyński
Piotr Sarzyński(@piotr_sarzynski)
4 years ago

I am now finding myself so suprised by the amount of great events happening in Europe featuring top-notch classic cars. Shame to said that to this time, I haven’t heard about this event, as well as few more featured this year. All this left me wonder if it wouldn’t be possible to create at petrolicious some kind of classic car events calendar? Of course not only Europe-based, but overall. As this season ends, a 2018 based calendar might be a good start 🙂

4 years ago

How about Petrolicious holding some sort of raffle or contest for readers to have a chance at winning a trip to one of these awesome events you report on. Some of us will probably never afford to go if left up to our own finances. A guy can dream, right?

B RAD T(@no1zx6r)
4 years ago

Wow Wow Wow! Some truly magnificent vehicles here and the concept of the whole thing is wonderful. That GT40 is spot on gorgeous

4 years ago

Your photography is incredible! Absolutely love the stye and treatment you’ve given them. Fantastic work!

Alex G
Alex G
4 years ago

You cannot beat St. Moritz. Thanks for sharing this awesome piece.

4 years ago

Thank you Ted for this wonderful Report. Back 2018 – with hopefully a Petrolicious Team!

4 years ago

It was a great event, I hope to be able to be a partecipant next year and not only a spectator.