Can I tell you a secret? I know more gearheads in Australia than I do neighbors on my own block. In some respects, I know that’s terrible, but in others, it’s totally awesome. Every other year, my wife and I try to get out and see the world – the world of gearheads. We at Gearbox Magazine want YOU to be able to experience stuff like this too, so I’m going to keep you in the loop as things progress in the coming months.
In September 2010, Vanessa and I saved our nickels and dimes and bought two plane tickets to Frankfurt. We figured that would motivate us enough to save up for our hotel, rental car, food, and whatnot while we were in Germany. It did. And, as luck would have it, the Baden-Württemberg chapter of the Mitsu Freunde would be celebrating their first anniversary the day before we flew back to Phoenix.
We attended that event. Wow. You can read the whole story here, but let me just say, this was pretty much one of the most incredible automotive experiences of my life. From the whole group meeting in a gas station parking lot, to the long line of cars driving to Kart-o-Rama in Stuttgart, to the dinner and drinks until the wee hours, this was something I’ll never forget.
Quick German lesson, Elbe is the name of the town south of Berlin and Treffen is pretty much “meet” auf Deutsch. ET is the biggest Mitsubishi meet in Germany each year. Just over 300 Mitsubishis attended in 2011, and I have it on good account that nearly 400 are already signed up for only 350 spots available in 2012. Here’s the website.
ET is the weekend of June 15-17, 2012. I’ve been toying with the idea of going for over a year, manged to save up the cash to buy the plane tickets, and bought them last month. The first thought was to fly into Frankfurt again, but we save nearly US$1000 on airfare by booking into London, England. As much as I love Lufthansa, I’ve heard really good things about Virgin Atlantic, so we’re going to give them a try.
I’ve never been to the UK, but there are several gearheads over there I’d really like to meet in person, so it became an easy decision. Our plane tickets cost more than I’ve paid for three of my last four daily drivers – US$2300 for two people Phoenix to London and back (in the nice, summer season) in coach – which is easily half the amount it would take me to finish my rally car project, but I know this trip will be totally worth it.
We’re going to land in London on June 10th. I’ve already got a thread going on the Lancer Register to see if anyone might want to do a meet-n-greet with Vanessa and I while we’re there. Speaking of MLR, Darin Frow has already started working on getting a meet-n-greet organized while we’re there.
Cat Lund, who co-drives for Andy Rowe in an Evo III across northern Europe and works at a recognized UK race property is going to meet up with Vanessa and I too. In fact, Cat is even going to host us in her guest bedroom. Have you ever crashed on a local gearhead’s couch? Why not a gearhead on the other side of the planet?
We’re also going to meet up with my buddy Adnan Ebrahim, who runs Car Throttle, a great site for automotive news and information. Because we’re die hard Mitsubishi enthusiasts, going to visit with Mitsubishi enthusiasts, on our way to the biggest Mitsubishi meet in Germany, Adnan tried to get us a press car from Mitsubishi Press in the UK. (The man has connections!)
Unfortunately, since we’ve never worked with Mitsubishi Press UK and will be traveling outside their market, they declined to let us borrow a car. I can understand the decision, although I was really excited about the prospects of driving a Mitsubishi around to visit with so many EU Mitsubishi enthusiasts.
If anyone knows of rental outfits in the London area which rent Mitsubishi vehicles, please let me know. I’m not opposed to driving a BMW again (loved the 118d Efficient Dynamics we had in 2010), but it sure would be nice to be in a Mitsubishi.
You know I live in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, but here’s something else very cool about this automotive adventure. I co-own Gearbox with my partner Dennis DeJong, who lives in The Netherlands, and whom I’ve never actually met. We talk on Skype most weekends, but on or around June 14th of this year, we’re going to meet face-to-face for the first time.
On to ElbeTreffen!
Once we’ve met up with Dennis, the three of us will continue on to Elbe for three days partying with almost 400 of our closest Mitsubishi friends. It’s going to be a great time. We’ll miss the DSM Shootout this year, and my rally car will go another year without being completed, but it’s totally worth it to experience gearhead life on another continent.
As we get closer to the travel date, I’ll share more about some of the things we’ve had to plan for in advance so if you ever find yourself looking to get out of the country as a gearhead tourist, you’ll be better prepared. I’d also appreciate hearing your travel tips in the comments below.
- Have you ever planned an international trip around automotive events? Which ones?
- What do you think is the most difficult part of planning a trip like this?