How do you see the world, without feeling like a typical tourist, and combine the thrill of fast cars and awesome parties in one trip? You need to investigate the heady world of the car rally. Put to one side the preconceptions of auto-loving bores, who gather at the end of each day to talk gear differentials and the difficulty of sourcing heritage paint hues, and instead get ready for a selection of bragging-right guaranteed ultimate drives in the company of people who love partying as much as they love the latest hypercar. Read on to discover the world's very best...
The beautiful setting of Monterey, California, is the home of this much-loved annual historic car rally. Part of Monterey Car Week – which also includes the show-stopping Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – the event sees around 550 historic and period-correct motors from nearly every era competing on the 2,238-mile road course. Supporting the on-track racing is a paddock that’s open to everyone, Q&A sessions with legends, special exhibition laps and a marketplace of stalls showing a wide range of automobilia and products. On track, expect to see everything from pre-1940 sports cars to 1967- 1984 F1 cars and some beautiful old touring cars. A must for classic car fans.
Running annually since 1927 (apart from an understandable break during World War II), this 1,000-mile race through the roads of Italy ended in 1957 after a car struck spectators. However, it was revived in 1982 as a four-day rally – and one limited to cars produced no later than 1957 – running a Brescia-Rome-Brescia round trip. Bringing together the best of tradition and elegance, it’s become one of the world’s most iconic road races that’s as special for the spectators as it is for the drivers. Those in the know ensure that they check out the road between Rome and Siena – regarded as the most beautiful stretch of road in Italy – where you’ll get the perfect view of some of the world’s finest old automobiles being pushed to their limits. On that note, if you’re a driver then speed limits are not terribly well-enforced. Because this is Italy – and this is the country’s most famous race.
The daddy of all modern car rallies, this British-born 3,000-mile international celebrity motor rally is the brainchild of entrepreneur, designer, race car driver and former model Maximillion Cooper. Combining cars, music, fashion and entertainment, it’s set the bar for high-profile car rallies since it launched in 1999. It’s arguably best known for its glamorous parties and celebrity participants, often driving outrageously cool cars – David Hasselhoff in the original Knight Rider car, for example, or Lewis Hamilton in a Koenigsegg Agera HH – but it’s still a test of endurance. Spending several days in a car, combined with partying all night, can be tougher than you might imagine. This year, for Gumball’s 20th anniversary, this race runs from London to Tokyo (4 – 12 August) and promises to be the biggest event yet. Only 100 cars will make the journey so get your entry in now.
For true driving enthusiasts, this annual race is a dream – and one of the most enjoyable rallies on the planet. Make no mistake, it’s a challenging undertaking, not least because of the logistics involved in getting your car, parts and crew out to the beautiful north Atlantic island of Newfoundland. It’s open to owners of historic, classic and modern sporting vehicles, with each car competing against itself on a handicap basis, as well as against other vehicles. There’s a timed Grand Touring rally, as well as the Fast Tour – a non-competitive event which allows the owners of exotic cars to drive them the way they were meant to be driven, without the stress of competition. 1,400 miles in seven days (15 – 21 September) is what you’re in for, with some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the world as your backdrop. Beautiful.
Driven by the desire to create a rally that wasn’t just for male petrolheads, two serial entrepreneurs launched a female-friendly, carbon-neutral supercar rally that’s worthy of any bucket list – and described by GQ as “the closest you’ll get to living your dream.” This year’s event runs 1-9 September across seven European countries, starting in London and ending in Belgium. There’s also a six-day London to Ibiza rally in July, which is sensibly limited to four to five hours driving every day, allowing participants more time to enjoy the nightly parties and high-end hotels that are booked for them along the way. This is not a challenge of speed or endurance – as co-founder Darshana Ubl says: “A race is a timed event. A rally is two or more cars sharing an adventure.” And if you don’t feel your car quite cuts it, or you simply fancy trying something different, then Verve can rent you a stunning supercar for the duration of the event.