SPONSORS A big, big thank you to the following companies for supporting us on IJ2013: South Lakes Mini
www.southlakesminis.com Supplier of quality Mini parts.
The best tyres you can get for a Mini.
Bilstein Suspension www.bilstein.de
German suspension experts in the Mini market.
The worldâ€™s leading supplier of Mini parts.
Electrical and lighting experts.
Arguably the best brake pads and shoes for a Mini.
Quality supplier of oil, cleaners and other essential chemicals.
Established Mini parts supplier for all your Mini/MINI needs.
Supported us with promotional and car stickers.
love:mini www.love-mini.co.uk www.italianjob.com
Blog and social media links
Italian job 2013
CONTENTS 4 IJ History
The history of the Italian Job Run and entry for next year’s event.
Getting ready for the run and all of the mishaps!
16 UK - italy
Task one was just to get to the start line on time!
Meeting the folk who would be
our family for a week.
28 The job
Day-by-day coverage of the Italian Job 2013.
70 Drive home
At the end of the run we still had to catch the train.
72 press coverage Media coverage of this year’s Italian Job Run.
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his special edition of love:mini follows our Mini adventure on this year’s prestigious Italian Job charity tour. Once we’ve eventually made it to Italy, we’re in for a five-star experience at top of the range hotels, exquisite fine-dining and some of the most exclusive opportunities of our lives. Seven whole days of exciting adventures with a host of Minis beeping and flashing locals as we pass through their foreign land. This most certainly not a ‘sitby-the-pool-reading’ holiday.
Little did we know that we were to meet some wonderful people from a wide range of backgrounds, nor did we anticipate many of the twists of the plot that fate would deal us. Still, it makes for an even more exciting adventure and one that we would encourage you all to participate in. After all, it is for charity... what other reason do you need?
Craig McBeth Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
THIS ISSUE WAS MADE WITH HELP FROM: Aaron Leverton and Freddie St George.
What it is & how it all started
hink of Minis and you can’t help but smile. We love our Minis, we love driving them and how they make everything such fun. And that’s how a youthful 20-year-old Freddie St George felt back in 1990, whilst preparing to join the Beaujolais Run travelling in convoy through France, with some friends in Minis. One thing led to another and they all decided to extend the journey to Italy, to see some dolomites and do an ‘Italian Job’ run - just
like the film of the same name. What was initially just some mates going for a Mini jaunt through Europe, quickly turned into an idea that soon gathered pace. Choosing the Italian Job name was obvious, but permission would be needed from the film studio, Paramount, who kindly agreed to lend the run use of the film name. The team agreed to make it a charity event - and that they would raise money for children - initially Childline
Freddie St George The man behind this amazing feat of organising the most spectacular Mini event each year, is 44-year-old Freddie St George. With Italian/English blood, a deep love for Minis and raising money for children, he set about organising the ultimate tribute to the 1969 film - the year Freddie was born. Over the past quarter-of-a-Century Freddie has built up a fantastic team to work with him and pull all the strings to arrange such a fantastic adventure, He’s got so many contacts we jokingly liken him to the Italian Mafia. Freddie is top, top bloke and very likeable, always willing to help, and when he’s on the job he’s Mr Focused, but come the evening, put a pint in his hand and he’s the heart and soul. I’m sure everyone who has ever attended any of the IJ runs would like to say a massive thank you to you Freddie.
1990 - 2014
and Children in Need. Marketing activities ensued with flyers at Mini events and promotional articles in the press, including Autocar magazine, supporting it quite well as Freddie recalls; “We had a very good response.”
Around 55 people took part in the four-day inaugural event, raising over £75,000 - quite a feat for a bunch of lads with an idea they had just a few months before! And so the Italian Job was born… Commenting on the first year’s success, Freddie says; “The RSPs had just been released and Minis became popular again… things just came together.” And they’ve not looked back since. Twenty-five years on and the run is still going strong as you will read - and they’ve taken in some epic sights and attractions, some of which are very exclusive. This year alone we had a police escort through the centre of Rome, where traffic stopped for all the Minis; we tore up the track at Imola and Mugello race circuits, and previous
trips have visited the Lingotto test track on top of the Fiat building in Turin - famously used for the rooftop chase in the film; and the very personal Ferrari test track. Then there’s places like Trento, Bologna, Turin, the Lamborghini and Ferrari museums, not to mention the spectacular sights of Italy through the ages; from ancient cliffside buildings to magnificent Renaissance architecture and plenty more culture inbetween.
More than just Minis
As the run has grown over the years, it has improved too. If food and drink is one of your loves - as well as Minis then you’re in for a real treat, because you will be served nothing but top-notch poshnosh from top-class hotels and eateries. With the vineyards of Italy so renowned, it would be rude not to sample the fare,
it really is the coolest holiday a mini owner could have and this too is rather popular amongst participants and organisers alike. We don’t call this the finest Mini event in the world for nothing! Being in a Mini, there has always been a need to carry a fair amount of spares for such a lengthy adventure. It’s fair to say they have come a long way from Freddie’s mate chucking a few spares in the back to where they are now, with a fully-loaded Transit van kittedout with stuff from Mini Spares and two volunteer mechanics willing to fix any problems encountered along the way. What isn’t advertised about the run is the great people you will meet, from all over the world, from all different backgrounds with one common love - the Mini.
because it is just soooo good - you will need to start saving and get your deposits in. For a week-long holiday, with all meals included, and for the sights and feelings you’re going to experience, it’s a snip at around £1100 per person. You could easily spend that on a trip abroad doing boring stuff like reading by the pool. You can do that here too (if you insist), but you’ll have your Mini and lots of other Minis and Mini people with you. It really is the coolest
holiday a Mini owner can have. There’s no camping and chemical toilets like at your sweaty, smelly IMMs - this is luxury four-star hotels all the way. You’ll need to factor in fuel and toll costs too, but places are going fast for the 25th Anniversary Run, so you’ll need to get your £200 deposit in asap. Participants are encouraged to raise money for the chosen charities through sponsorship and contribute an auction item too.
It’s the 25th anniversary of the first Italian Job Run in 2014 and Freddie and his team have some special surprises in-store as an anniversary treat. Anyone thinking of taking part - and that should be ALL of you,
THE ITALIAN JOB OUTLINE ITINERARY Teams can travel independently to the start in Trento or follow the optional Service Van Route, leaving Calais on October 20th for a little added peace of mind. The optional 3 night package includes accommodation & breakfast at the 4 star Radisson in Spa near the Francorchamps circut on October 20th, the Deluxe Dorint Nurburgring Hotel on October 21st and the 3 star Ibis Hotel in Munich city centre on October 22nd. The return to the UK will include a stop in Lyon on October 30th and a further overnight in Paris on October 31st. Then on November 1st, a short drive to Calais for the ferry followed by an hour or so drive to the awards dinner venue in East London. Hotels and Meals Overnight, breakfast and dinner from October 23rd to breakfast on October 30th in 4 star superior Hotels. A special rate will be available for Jobbers arriving earlier than October 23rd. Lunches during navigational rally are en route and dinner with wine at the hotels. The meal for Nov. 1st Gala dinner is included but the overnight at the London hotel is optional The Rally The Road book you will receive at registration in Italy will highlight the rally route from the Dolomite mountains of Trentino to the Alps of Piemonte. Will visit cities such as Trento, Modena and Turin. We’ll drive off the beaten track through wine growing areas and discover charming villages and towns. We will enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals in exclusive settings. You will be able to display your driving abilities at the special stages planned at both the Modena Autodrome and on the Grand Prix Circuit of Monza and we hope you will enjoy a spin on the Lingotto roof top test track too. The Costs The cost pp sharing a double or twin room from dinner on October 23rd to breakfast on October 30th is estimated to be at £1000.00 to £1100.00 subject to currency fluctuation and final number of teams. This figures is fully inclusive of: • Return ferry Dover-Calais-Dover, • Visits and entry to the racing circuits • Team Entry in the Rally, classifications, awards, roadbook, marshals, timekeepers • Accommodation in 4 star superior Hotels
• All meals - Please note wine will only be served at dinner • Assistance of the Service Van and Organisers team escorting the rally
Cost for Outbound Service Van Package from October 20th to October 23rd based on B&B basis is £195.00 per person. Cost for the return escorted travel from October 30th to November 1st on B&B basis is £100.00 per person
REGISTRATION Please download the entry form from our website www.italianjob.com or call us on 01273 418100 and we’ll send you one. Please return your entry form with your deposit cheque issued payable to The Italian Job. You will need to send a deposit payment of £200.00 per team if sending your form before February 28th. From March 1st 2014 we will require a deposit of £800.00
The Italian Job 93 Hangleton Road Hove East Sussex BN3 7GH 01273 418100 email@example.com www.italianjob.com
Waiting on a miracle Little time to prepare makes mishaps even more costly...
ur late booking onto 2013’s Italian Job Charity Run, left us with just over six weeks to get fully prepared for my first driving vacation across Europe. So I had a choice. Do I take my weathered-looking daily driver, Bruce - a 1991 Mini Cooper - or do I ask MINI for a loan car? Well, my heart wanted to take Bruce, but my head was telling me the MINI wouldn’t breakdown. I called up MINI and they said they couldn’t give me an answer to my car request for three weeks. With little over six weeks until the start of the Italian Job Run, I couldn’t afford to wait and then for them to turn around and reject my request. So the decision was made. Bruce would be
driving to Italy! Looking at the state of him, you - and I - would be forgiven for thinking Three hour spray job he would never be from this ^ to this -> ready in time. But the truth behind the picture is that he may look a little rough, but it’s because he’s used daily and problems are fixed quickly - because they need to be! Nevertheless, aside from the looks there were some issues that did need fixing for most before heading on of the main stuff you need to the Continent. The majority replace such as bearings, HT of items needed were just leads, plugs, dizzy cap etc. consumables which would But while I waited for them I need renewing before the thought I could get rid of some trip - South Lakeland Minis of the surface rust and give supplied us with quality items
A familiar sight. C’mon don’t pretend you’ve never broken down - It’s a Mini!
This doesn’t look right!
Bruce a fresh spray of rattlecan silver from Halfords. It certainly did the trick. I’ve had some W&P arches for years, which I’ve not fitted, so I thought this would be the perfect time - except my wheels are too thin for them… so I would need new wheels and tyres too. With the rattle-can spray job done in three hours, I set off for a domestic journey 200 miles away to pick up the kids from my ex-wife. Some three-quarters of the way
there I heard a loud tapping/clunking sound (much, much louder than the usual loudness) so I immediately pulled over to the hard shoulder of the M5. The Mini was pissing out water/
I heard a loud clunking sound steam from the rad and a turn of the key made the kind of clunky sounds which put you off trying any more times. With the roadside recovery on its way I called my friend Paul, who is used to me breaking down and asking for his assistance. I told him I was on my way to his house on the back of a flatbed. The recovery mechanic couldn’t see anything wrong which indicated internal failure, so he took me to Paul’s house. On initial inspection we thought it
was a head failure. However, I had more pressing arrangements, such as collecting the kids, and had to leave the Mini at Paul’s for a week. It was clear an engine rebuild was the only solution. Fortunately, Paul has a load of Mini spares (don’t we all), but during this time I sourced another block from a friend in Bristol for £50 and within a week I was back at Paul’s in my overalls ready to help remove the old engine and build and fit a new one in just three days. On the Sunday I arrived we managed to get the head off and detach a load of ancillaries ready for winching it out the next day. Once the head was off though we noticed that the pistons were not in the correct positions and, in engineering terms, there was a huge crack in the engine block across
Cracking work Craig. My first Mini engine block destroyed.
PREP Found these in the gear box. Not ideal at 90mph!!
Pulling the blown engine apart.
So with that lesson learnt, South Lakeland Minis sent me a decent waterpump to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. Listen up people, I breakdown and share these things with you so you don’t have to have the same fate! Lol. Or maybe I’m just stupid?
The truth is out there
cylinders 2 & 3. This is a notorious hotspot. However, as we were dismantling the engine I recalled fitting a nonstandard waterpump. I believe this was one of the main
causes of the engine failure (along with me driving continuously at high speed for too long ahem).
Anyway, once we’d winched the engine out and detached the gearbox we really got to see what the problem was - a piston end cap had broken off. The bolt had come loose and the other had sheared off. With the end cap and its bolts missing, they had to be in the gearbox. Assessing the damage we
Ok so here you can see the piston is not attached to the crank after the end cap bolts failed.
Not one tooth on the gear s was damaged. There were all in perfect condition - Amazingly luc ky!
Cleaning and preparing the cylinder head.
So just a word of warning that we believe this type of water pump was the main contributing cause to engine failure. The design causes cavitation at high rpm thus providing insufficient cooling.
noticed a chip in the camshaft and a nick in the crank. Unbelievably, the gears were untouched, and the teeth were in perfect condition - amazing considering the end cap and bolts went flying into them! Very, very lucky… we could reuse the gearbox. Which is great news because it’d only been fitted six months earlier! Using a magnet heat-shrunk onto a tube, we fished out all of the metal debris from the
gearbox. Paul fortunately found a sneaky nut I’d missed, hidden behind the diff, before reassembly. Phew! Work now started on the block and head. The 1275 block was all good and came with pistons to match. Paul had a couple of suitable camshafts lying around and we compared them to mine. His two were standard whilst mine looked to have been reprofiled with pointier tips. On to the head
and Paul gave the chambers a once over with a little grinder and cleaned up the head surface for a good seal. For once this engine was built it would be almost straight off to Italy - no second chances! With the new engine built - with new waterpump - the home straight looked in sight. Just plonk it in and reattach everything and fill ’er up and turn the key right? Wrong! At the end of Monday, progress looked good and well on course, but as always with Minis, you have to be prepared for it to throw a spanner in the works - and Bruce is notorious for it!
Building up the new engine took nex t to no time with Paul’s expertise. Out with the old (below) and in with the new (above).
So the rebuild went well aside from the winch deciding to develop a fault, temporarily making us ponder more manual ways of getting the engine in. Fortunately we managed to fix the winch - a far better solution. Once the engine was in, reconnecting all the ancillaries went well. A pot joint that I had not managed to fit properly six months ago was replaced and new balljoints and bearings fitted. I’d planned to replace the radiator but the Extreme version from Radtec just would not fit despite assurances from the company that it would. So, at least for the journey home, I would have to reuse my old leaky radwelded radiator and hope for the best. Not ideal when you’ve just built a new engine… I don’t really want to blow it up on the way home!
Just call me Bill
As part of my sponsorship program I spoke to suspension company Bilstein who sent a set of their new dampers for
Radtec assured us their ‘Extreme’ Mini radiator would fit without modification even after much fettling and different angles of attack - it just didn’t fit, so wasn’t used. A standard replacement rad was fitted instead.
classic Minis. They kindly threw in a baseball cap and some lanyards… and biggest so from then on I decided I problem, came about once we was to be known as Bill Stein had got the car running. We on the forthcoming Italian Job. couldn’t get it running right. The time came to start the So close to the finish line and engine and for some reason we I needed to return home, we couldn’t get oil pressure. We’d spent over 12 hours tinkering checked the and trying pump during the build and it was good, and we’d put enough oil in. Paul suggested Bilstein!!! taking the oil pressure valve out. Again no oil on turnover. I turned to Facebook and eventually someone suggested backfilling the oil gallery through the Had to grind the CV oil pressure valve. joint nut off after This worked a treat I had previously and I got a nice flattened the thread squirt of oil over me trying to locate for it. Lovely! the Pot Joint (long The next, and story)!
A day in Harrogate with Dene Doyle got the lights sorted and the spotlamps fitted. different things. Again, I had to turn to Facebook and my army of Mini friends. We had looked at the timing, the distributor position, vacuum hoses, fuelling and swapped the new ignition parts for old to double-check, but still we were dumbfounded. But it was a Facebook suggestion that mentioned the carburettor spacer, and upon closer inspection Paul found a crack in it, which he suspected was leaking air. With no replacement, he sealed it up and it did the trick. Another item to add to the shopping list
Fitting some fresh Yokohama A539 rubber to the new 12x5.5 Ultralites.
though - £10. With that the Mini just needed timing up properly (we had no timing light), so I popped to JWD Autorite in Swindon, who kindly sorted it for me before the long and testing journey back home.
Bruce and I made it back home uneventfully, and the engine seemed ok. I initially felt it didn’t have the same ‘pull’ as the old engine, possible because of the standard cam instead of the reprofiled one, and it’s maybe me, but I think it sounds a little different too. But perhaps that’s because it is a whole
new block and head. My urgent need to bring Bruce back up to Lancashire was to get his electrics, and mainly his lights, ready for night driving through Europe. Mini friend Dene Doyle offered to lend a hand and fix my headlights and fit my Wipac spotlamps over in Harrogate. The ‘2hr’ job turned into an ‘all-dayer’ and I had to call my mum to pick up the kids, lol, but at least this important job was done. Cheers Dene, thanks mum. That left me just to fit the new tyres to the new wheels, get the wheelarches fitted, get
PREP the tracking done and install a new radiator. In the weeks before the run I had considered many wheel options but I’ve had these W&P arches in the shed for ages and really wanted the wheels to fill the arches with a bit of a dish. That ruled out the 12x5s already on the car; I wouldn’t touch MWS wheels after many reports of poor quality wheels, so I narrowed it down to Huddersfield Mini Spares and Ultralites. With not much between them I bought the 12x5.5 Ultralites. Further good news is the Ultralite 12x5.5s don’t rub the arches. I asked Mini friend, Dilligaf owner and serial polisher, Emz Williams, if she would seal the new wheels with some Poorboy’s Wax I had kicking around. Then I took them and my new Yokohama A539s to my friendly and cheap tyrefitter at Tyre Bay, Nelson - £5 a tyre inc valves! The tracking was next, and I’d scored a
discount voucher for laser tracking at Tracking National Tyres & Auto Care for £15. Bargain. Usually I have to get it done old-style, but I tell you, after the tracking was set up, it drove like a dream - probably the best I’d ever felt it drive. Best intentions and all that - I was going to fit the arches myself, but bottled it and took Arches it to a C&A 4x4 in Colne, who have a liking for Minis. Drilled and riveted them in for £15 - and that including beating a bit of the bodywork into shape to accept the arch. The final job was to install a new radiator, and that all went quite well, despite my hatred for the bottom hose and the illogical positioning of water pipes that just cry out to system. Nevertheless, radiator create an airlock in the was fitted and no leaks. That’s all that mattered at the moment. And with that, Bruce was ready to roll with hours to spare. As the 11pm set-off time Italia approached I double-checked n inform Job everything. The babysitter a pack tion (mum) had arrived. Insurance documents, check. Passport, yes. Driving licence (after negotiating with Wilts Police to send it in for 3-points after Italy trip), yes. Money, clothes, phone, laptop, chargers, maps, camera… yep all was ready to go… or so I thought.
UK - Italy
Pear Tree Services. 3am
Step 1: Get to Italy! With the prep done the real work begins... getting to the start line 1200 miles away!
he Italian Job Run is the most prestigious Mini event on the calendar. Weâ€™re talking luxury hotels, fine dining, top class wine and elegant touches of je ne sais quoi. Then there is me, with my fussy-eating habits, maverick attitude, foot-in-mouth
syndrome and billy-basic budget about to embark on my first European mission with some wallet-busting high-flyers. Anything could happen. Anyone who knows me will know that I tend to stretch my financial means to the absolute limit and scrape through situations by the skin of my teeth by a combination of luck and generosity. Bruce blowing a piston but not killing his gearbox being a prime example. My friends pulling
together to build me a new engine on the cheap a week before the run is another. Now most jobbers, (and anyone with any sense) had set off for Imola well in advance of the Thursday May 9, 10am start time, and were meandering their way through Western Europe, stopping off in Belgium, Germany, France and Switzerland along the way to enjoy the spectacular sights and visit some other Mini locations. A number of jobbers
How it happened Conversation started 7 May 07/05/2013 23:08 Aaron Leverton: Whats the crack mate? Craig McBeth: im going to italy in the next hour driving through france. my co driver has pulled out. its for the italian job run, drive to italy, drive round italy, drive home again. AL: How long have i got to get ready? CM: as long as it takes me to get to your house. AL: Where dyu live? CM: lancashire, so about 3.5 hrs AL: Im in CM: can u drive? AL: Seriously and i drive and am a mini genius!! And CM: driving licence, passport, insurance docs. AL: Done x CM: can u get to m40 AL: I can get to A34/ At pear tree services oxford AL: 0200? CM: hold on, more like 2.30 i think AL: You sure its cool. Im well up for this CM: ill keep u posted by text. my phone has limited battery at mo tho. yep cool. have u got DSLR? AL: Done. I have yeah CM: awesome. bring it.. AL: Canon 1100d CM: you any good with electrics? AL: Im an electrician... For weapons systems CM: shit the bed AL: And a senior naval engineer CM: you may just be my new best friend. AL: Navigate, drive , shoot, im the shit!! Right let me pack CM: ok see you at peartree. ill be in the silver mini! AL: Awesome!!!! CM: if i dont break down. AL: Take it easy!!! CM: ok. see you in bit. text me Conversation ends 23:23
chose to add the extra 3-day Support Package which took the group from England to Italy the scenic route, with the full support of the Service Crew. For me, though, it was a whole different story. My first co-driver’s workplace couldn’t allow any extra time off prior to the start, so we would have to set off at 11pm on Tuesday 7 May. It would be an epic non-stop run, but it was doable. Also, any extra nights would have impacted on the limited budget I had.
Time to go
So the time had come. It was just approaching 11pm so I called up my co-driver who had just finished work to get her address. Then… disaster! She wasn’t able to come. I hadn’t received text messages she’d sent earlier and so was left stranded. Mum had come round to look after the kids for the week and said I couldn’t do the run on my own. I said I’d have to, if it came to it, after all the support I’d received. With no time
Is there a McDonald’s around here?
Sleepy. Time to change drivers.
UK - Italy
to spare, I put out an emergency shout on Facebook. Out of 4000 Mini friends and the offer of a cheap trip to Italy, surely there was bound to be someone? Bruce was all loaded up with equipment, clothes and brimming a full tank of fuel. For 13 long minutes we stood staring at the computer screen waiting - hoping - for a response… and then it came… in legendary fashion. “What’s the crack mate?” popped up Aaron Leverton. I told him the deal and checked
out his location. He was in Oxford - directly on my route to the Eurotunnel perfect! “How long have I got to get ready?” he asked. “About 3.5 hours,” I say. “I’m in,” he confirms. And that was that. New co-driver acquired in 23-minutes. Without further ado, I was off, and on my way from Burnley to Folkestone, via Oxford, in time to get the 06.28 train to Calais. I had no concerns about picking up a stranger - I was more concerned about letting everyone down if I didn’t make it to the start on time! I had quick look at Aaron’s FB profile and nothing to make me fear for my life… apart from the fact that he is trained to kill and that
I can be very annoying at times!
The adrenaline was pumping and Bruce and his new engine were churning up the miles on the empty late-night motorway. With the lights sorted now too, it was a revelation - I could see! As I got to the meeting point at Pear Tree Services I could see Bruce was getting a bit hot. I pulled in and popped the bonnet whilst Aaron and I introduced ourselves and loaded his stuff into the car. After refilling the radiator, due to an air lock, we charged down to Folkestone only to find out our train had been delayed by an hour because of a broken down freight train in the tunnel. Time to get a sarnie and put the
Eek! Handing the keys over...
sponsor stickers on the Mini. Once in France Aaron really started to come into his own. I was starting to flag after nearly 10-hours of driving and so we got some fuel and swapped drivers. As I went to fill up I realised I only had Sterling on me, and no money in the bank (yes believe it). Aaron whipped out his credit card and after a couple more fill-ups we came to an arrangement where I would give him Sterling back in the UK. As it turns out, this in itself was a lifesaver as I hadn’t anticipated or budgeted for the extortionate toll roads through
France. As a European virgin I directed us along the quickest route to get to the start on time, but it came at a cost… over €120, and €30-odd for just a 12km stretch through Mont Blanc. As I had my nap and handed over driving duties I told Aaron about Bruce’s recent piston incident and subsequent new engine and to take it easy with him. I woke to find him topping 90mph but we were making good progress so I didn’t grumble too much. Aaron and I started chatting and I asked about contentious issues and we debated them quite heatedly. At one point I noticed a service station selling handguns, but thought twice about pointing this out to Aaron. Twelve hours in and he was soon bossing me around. It was rather amusing, until he hit a clanger… the radiator fan dispute that would continue for days. Let me just say, France is a lot bigger than it looks on the map. And it was about the time we got to Reims that I realised I’d
France is a lot bigger than it looks on the map!!
underestimated the scope and cost of this journey. We foolishly left the motorway to go and find some food - Maccy D’s for me - and headed towards a town which looked relatively big on the map. Half
More cooling down and topping up radiator
UK - Italy
Watch the speed Aaron!
an hour later and we finally reached this town… miles away from the motorway as they seem to be, and then a bit of a mission to find an eatery. With Mr ex-Navy man Aaron with me I wasn’t worried about language issues, and I use the old stereotypical approach of slow and loud. We saw the ‘Golden Arches’ and headed in. I soaked up the atmosphere and cultural differences, just like something out of Pulp Fiction. Refreshed we sought out the motorway again and buzzed a speed camera on the way. Oops. As we reached Southern France the heavens opened and a downpour ensued. The
leaky sunroof was one cause for concern for the passenger, but more problematic was water filling the floorpan from the airvents as the wheelspray comes up. We popped the floor grommets out and used a hoody to fix that before blasting the heater on full which was ironically pumping out cold air compared to the leg scorching heat we had to endure to keep the engine cool. After reaching Italy and heading towards Milan, we swapped over again and I took us towards Imola. As soon as we hit the motorways in Italy though, it was backbreaking time. The ‘joins’ in the road - if you can call them that - were like jumping off a kerb and were playing havoc with Aaron trying to sleep. Every 200 metres, *BUMP*, “ouch!” As we got to Bologna, Aaron was snoozing and I was unsure which turning to take to get
us to Imola. Multiple signs saying the same thing had me confuzzled and in a flappy panic. With no traffic around in the dead of night, I pulled up at a V-junction and woke Aaron up. He pulled out his iPhone and we used the sat-nav to get us to the hotel - which we drove past about five times before we spotted it! After 30-hours on the road, at last, we we’d made it! It was 5am in the morning, but we weren’t going to be late - and amazingly we hadn’t broken down! Good work Bruce. Aaron demanded sleep. I said I’d sleep in the car, but he forked out for a hotel for five hours kip. Legend. Italy here we come!
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jobbers Team 30: Bill & Ted
Names: Aaron Leverton (25), Craig McBeth (33) From: Oxford, Burnley Occupation: Former Navy Officer now oil rigger, freelance journalist and single dad. Car: 1991 Mainstream Cooper (Bruce) # of IJs: First How you got involved with Minis: Aaron bought a 1989 City in 2004 from a friend for £200, restored it and has had 11 since then. Craig’s brother had a Mini when they were growing up together and then his best friend at senior school had one, before he bought Bruce in 2007.
Team 54: Team Gray
Names: Neil Gray (40), Rachel, Guilia (12), Hannah (9) From: Huntley, Aberdeenshire Occupation: Home shopping delivery driver Car: MINI One 2005 # of IJs: Neil 5, Rachel 4, Kids first. How you got involved with Minis: Neil’s brother had a Mini Traveller when he was younger, but blew it up, which was quite fortunate for Neil as he was able to use the engine to build his own saloon aged around 19. Back in 1996 he bought a Sportspack and soon took part in his first Italian Job run in 1997. It was to be a true turn of fate as he went on to meet his wife through a participant in the run! In special tribute to the tour
and its magic in bring this family together, their first daughter was named Guilia after Freddie’s mother. The girls went on to be awarded a special ‘Best Behaved’ award for their immaculate behaviour on tour.
Names: Roger (59) & Yvonne Hunt From: Northants Occupation: MD (Engineering) Car: 1990 Mini Cooper RSP (#1 driven by John Cooper) # of IJs: 11 How you got involved with Minis: Roger and Yvonne have been married 38 years and in 1971 they bought a 1961 MkI 850cc for £35 just because they liked them - and they’ve been involved with
them ever since. Roger says he has driven most types of Minis and they currently have eight in their collection. They’ve taken part in every Italian Job Run since 2000, in three different Minis, and finally won the event in 2007, two years after their daughter did!
Team 74: Team 28: Maple Leaf Dixy Chicks
Names: Jason (42) & Dieda John From: Alberta. Canada Occupation: Oil/gas process operator, Nurse Car: 1992 Mainstream Cooper # of IJs: 2 How you got involved with Minis: Jason is a Briton from the Chester area and his parents had a Mini when he was younger. Then, in the year 2000, he bought a 1979 MkII Austin 1000cc. This is their second Italian Job Run but surprisingly they weren’t the team that had travelled the furthest.
Names: Bill (68) & Linda Handley From: Romford, Essex Occupation: Events Manager, Market Manager Car: 1999 1275 MPi # of IJs: 7 How you got involved with Minis: Linda had a Mini before Bill when she was around 21, choosing a “stylish” Woody Traveller, also because it was economical. Bill found his love with a 1275 GT in his late 30s, and at present the couple
have seven of the little cars stashed away. It was a friend who told them about the Italian Job Run and so they bought a Mini just take part, and the collection has slowly expanded.
Team 9: Bat Team
Names: Peter (60) & Tony (65) Batkins From: London Occupation: Film Producer/Business owner, Print Consultant Car: 2000 John Cooper Mini Cooper S # of IJs: 2 How you got involved with Minis: Tony had a Minivan when he was about 21 and Peter recalls bombing around in Kings Lynn and it having no brakes as they approached a roundabout at speed, which they had to hop straight over. “It was brown pants time,” says Peter.
Team 10: Max III
Names: John Thew (48), Chris White (39) From: Surrey Occupation: MD @ Further (SEO firm), IT Security Car: 2009 MINI Cooper # of IJs: 5, first How you got involved with Minis: John’s sister Cathryn had a Mini when he was 15, a maroon Mini 850, which he learnt to drive in. He shared his sister’s car before buying an 1100 Special. John did the very first IJ in a fibreglass Domino. Chris got involved with Minis at Sixth Form and got his first Mini in December 2012.
Team 11: Teddy Sellers
Names: Martin & Jeannette Middleton From: Sussex Car: MINI Cooper S Martin and Jeannette have been staunch supporters of the Italian Job Run, and at every stop they are there selling souvenir teddies and gifts, all to help raise money for children. With this yearâ€™s run organised to coincide with the IMM in Italy, the couple had also arranged to sell their wares there too - and it was a booming success!
Team 50: David Cameron
Names: Cameron & David Fraser From: Scotland Car: 1984 Mini 1000, custom Italian Job Tribute art This father son/duo were great characters, much like their Mini, and they even won the quiz and gave Aaron and I their trophy. Their Mini was also auctioned off for charity after the event raising another ÂŁ3,750.
Names: Trina Davies, Julie Barclay From: Sussex Car: 2002 MINI Cooper Trina is veteran of this event having attended for 13 consecutive years and is always willing to lend a hand to any new recruits - as was the case with ourselves when we needed some electrical connectors. Thanks!
Mini Spares Service Crew
Names: Paul Cooper, Gareth Davies From: Northampton Vehicle: 2005 Ford Transit Van The Service Crew were an essential part of the rally with a van stocked full of allsorts to help keep the Minis running. But it was the time, effort and skill of the crew which was really appreciated by all of the jobbers, even those who were lucky enough not to call on their services. This yearâ€™s mishaps included a puncture, broken subframe mounts, a detached exhaust and refitting a wheel that had come off whilst in motion.
Na mes: Dav ide & Pam Merriott From: Sta ffordsh ire Car: Min i Cooper
Names: Geoff & Carole Buckle From: Wirral Car: !998 Paul Smith Mini
Names: Duncan Cook, Steve Taylor From: West Midlands Car: 1998 Mini Cooper Sportspack Marathon and extreme challenges junkie, Duncan Cook, came on the Italian Job for the time challenges and to win the trophy for most team points - which he did. Congratulations
Names: Richard & Debbie Morrey From: Staffordshire Car: 2000 Mini Cooper Sportspack
Tea m 34:
Na mes: A nd re a K nox, Joh n Rober ts From: Lla ndud no Ca r: 2013 M IN IVA N A nd rea a nd Jo h n took pa rt in the cha rity ru in M IN I lau nch n ed ju st ea rl ier in the yea r - th M IN IVa n. The e M IN I com mer cia l benef its fr ta x sav ings th om at ma kes it ver y a fforda ble to bu si ness ow n ers.
! ! s y e n k The Joc eys)
kn (Scottish coc
www.italianjob.com Team 71:
Names: Euan & Gavin Wilson From: Scotland Car: 1993 SPi Mini Cooper Brothers Euan and Gavin Wilson were the head of the Jockney Clan and provided everyone with endless memories of recitable misquotes such as “I’ll ‘ave it for a pony, Guv” (thinking Pony was cockney slang for £50, not £500).
Names: Adam Heron, Gary Duff From: Scotland Car: 1997 Mini Cooper MPi
Names: Sharon Bathgate, Steve Atkin From: Scotland Car: 1995 SPi Mini Sidewalk Sharon was part of the Scottish ‘Jockney’ Crew that drove to Italy from Aberdeen. However, unlike the big lads, she was driving solo all the way until co-driver Steve flew in to join her on day two. Amongst the running jokes was that Steve was actually Australian, because he sounds like an Aussie when he speaks… I was naively convinced only to learn he’s never even visited the country!
Names: Bob & Jenny Piggin, Dennis & Pat Redman From: Berkshire
Names: Julio & Bev Wildeboer From: Wiltshire Car: MINI Cooper S
Team 64: Team HELO
Names: Leslie Summerscales, Adam Rogers From: Surrey Car: 1990 Mini Aaron named Les and Adam, Team HELO, after the reg plate on Les’s car short for helicopter in the Forces (Aaron ex-Navy). Day two and the chaps found a large gouge in one tyre which was replaced and used to help Les win the Best Photo on day six.
Tea m 40:
Na mes: Ki m & Ja net Bu ck ingham From: Su ssex Ca r: 1999 M in i Classic Seven
Names: Rob Pool, Josh Pool From: Dorset Car: 1991 Mini Cooper This father/son combo were attending to celebrate a birthday and this was the present. Wow!
Names: Brian & Gillian Helier From: Cleveland Car: 1998 Cooper Sports The Helier’s flew back from Team 39: Singapore to attend this Names: John & Maureen Tyler year’s run but might well From: Cambridgeshire have thought it was worth it Car: 1976 Clubman Estate after he picked up a pair of David Beckham’s boots for £850 at the charity auction. Tea m 21: s Na mes: Ia n & Mar y Sim From: Isle of Man Ca r: Country man Ia n and Mar y are veteran s of th is event eir and by at tendi ng in th so al ‘woody’ M in i, they won the oldes t M in i award.
Na mes: Dav id Wraight, Ma rny Wil lis From: Kent Car: Jag uar XK 150 This stu nni ng Jag wa s bought jus t six weeks before the run for enough money to buy a ver y, nice hou se.
Freddie makes introductions
Hotel Molino Rosso Selice 49 Imola Bologna 0039 542 63111 www.molinorosso.net
k of Final chec id. the rad flu My first European t. breakfas
fter having to cope with minutes of broken sleep for the previous two days, it was amazing how much more refreshed I felt after just a few hours in a hotel bed. With the buzz of the journey still lingering, I was awake as soon as the alarm went off, keen not to fall at the final hurdle. We freshened our stinky
selves up and headed for the start line at Hotel Molina Rosso in Imola just down the road from the Euro Hotel we had stayed in. The sun was beating down and it was a welcome change to the torrential rain we had in France. As we pulled up we were greeted with the sight of several Minis and their owners and it
immediately felt like home again, not just the two of us lost in a foreign country. Making our introductions I looked for a familiar face and found it in organiser Freddie St George, who was delighted that we had made it on time. It was a great comfort to us and we checked in at the hotel suitably reassured.
On the Job
After some scrutineering of the Mini… (eek!) we passed and were handed our door stickers and set to go. Bruce’s sticker set was complete and he was looking might damn fine, if I do say so myself. Freddie gathered all the Jobbers in the hotel lounge and made introductions, handed out our packs and explained what
would be going on etc. Breakfast was then served another daunting experience for me but I found comfort in some pasta bolognese, an apple, bloody orange juice (new to me but delicious), some bread, ham and strawberries. Probably the healthiest meal I’ve ever eaten! Thankfully, for us, the first day was just a quick trip around town to the former Formula 1 race circuit where legendary F1 driver, Ayrton Senna, died in 1994. I was just 14 at the time, but even I still
It felt like home again, not just us two ... remember it and how it, and he, has had such a profound effect on motorsport and its drivers. Aaron and I were the youngest pairing of drivers there and having not travelled down with the others or stopped at the hotel I initially felt lost and almost out of place. Here’s me with my backwards baseball cap and rattlecanned Mini while everyone else is with their immaculate several thousand pound Minis. This was all new to me, and some people had been on this run 13 years running… so would I fit in? Do I ever? But it
Meet the Batkin boys, living legends.
Parked up at Imola ready for the autotest. was early days and, as they say, first impressions arenâ€™t always the correct ones, as we soon learnt.
We started the day with an autotest. Completing a figure of eight around two cones and back over the start/finish line dead on 20 seconds. One of us drove, the other counted the seconds. Easy. And so we had a couple of more tests and would do so almost every day - even the Service Crew had a go! Eventually the points would be tallied up for the Italian
Job Trophy throughout the tour and the winner would be announced on the last night Awards Night. As we watched each team take their turn at the autotest I turned to Aaron and commented that we should have brought some suncream. Overhearing me, a stranger, Euan Wilson, immediately offered some of his, and with that we had made our first new friends of the trip the Jockneys. He would later need a USB cable for his digicam, so I lent him mine from my Mp3 player. And this was
the ethos much throughout the group, always willing to help. At high noon, in scorching sunshine, we headed around the circuit in convoy, beeping to the workmen repairing the track before stopping near
points would be tallied up for the italian job trophy
Group shot... with Roger at the front again! Haha! the Senna memorial for the obligatory group photo and to pay our respects to the great man. At the memorial there were fresh flowers and tribute banners. The anniversary of his death had not
Ayrton Senna 1960-1994
long passed. A lot of people just stood in silence. After some more testing we went for a drink at the circuit bar and started to chat with our new friends, the Jockneys, who are mostly Scottish oil-rigger boys… As a bit of a laugh, one of the lads, Euan, had a thing about the way English people always put on a fake Scottish accent, taking the mick, so he’s decided to put on a fake Cockney accent – thus he’s dubbed a Jockney. It was a hilarious on-going joke throughout the whole tour group and symbolised the spirit of the event. After a relatively light first day, we followed the Jocks back to the hotel, but in typical fashion they took
us the wrong way. However it wasn’t all bad news as after pulling up for them to figure out the route back, Aaron and I were checking out a couple of girls who seemed to be checking us out too.
Back to the wiring diagram Arriving back at the hotel we had a fiddle with Bruce to look at some issues. The old
Hotel bar staff wer e game for a laugh.
argument about which way the fan blade should go was continuing without a winner. As cooling had been an issue Aaron was sure it was to do with the fan blade. He spotted the auxiliary electric fan and I told him it’s never been connected but does work. Using the rear foglight switch that had been inadvertently disconnected whilst wiring the spotlights, he wired it into the dash so that now works. Another long-standing issue was the full beam of the headlights. After Dene had kindly wired them all in I had a panic about the safety of the relay and disconnected it, accidentally messing up the full beam somehow. We’d gone through Europe without full beam. With Aaron under the bonnet with the multimeter I had a look at the back of the switch column (where I’d been playing recently) and found a
loose connector which soon fixed the problem… and a few choice words were received from Mr Leverton. After freshening up we went and had a magnificent dinner where Freddie once again said a few words and told us how we had got on during the day and what was planned for tomorrow. Our navigation books were our bibles and we had to bring them to dinner to make notes. The evening was spent relaxing in the bar where I used my International English to talk to the bar staff. Aaron cheekily make a flower from a serviette and gave it to one of the male bar staff as a joke. As you can see from the photo, they were up for a laugh. And I, Stinky shoes stay not being a outside. big drinker... ended up a little sozzled.
day 2 Eyes wide open
aking up on Day two, Friday, was tough. A combination of muchneeded sleep and alcohol had me feeling worse for wear so Aaron took over
morning driving duties. Our route for the day would take us 95-miles to Porretta Terme where we would all meet to have lunch. It was another scorcher and also our first
Who’s this hiding in the corner?
Main: Parked up at the ‘wrong’ cafe/bar. Left: Using the navigation book
chance to properly use the navigation book. With stepby-step directions and little drawings telling us which turnings to take and signposts we should see after so many miles/km, it all seemed pretty simple. But factor in discrepancies and human error
and it all gets a bit more interesting! Each team would set off 30-seconds apart and would ideally - reach the finishing checkpoint dead on-time, but for most, they didn’t take it too seriously.
With Aaron at the wheel and me in a glazed daze, we followed the other Minis in convoy along the
We saw the traditional italy you see in dolmio ads
www.italianjob.com motorway (Autostrada) until we turned off and hit the beautiful, tight, windy roads of old Italy.
Ain’t no mountain…
The mountain routes were empty and Mini heaven. For near on 50-miles those roads
took us through the valleys and rural towns of the stereotypical traditional Italy you see in the likes of Dolmio adverts. The routebook also highlighted some places of interest, and on today’s route it was the Dolmen Stones. We spotted some
Minis parked up at a cafe and presumed this was some kind of meeting point, so pulled over to grab a drink and use the facilities. Looking at the routebook we noticed a bar and a right-hand turn immediately afterwards to
day 2 the Dolmen Stones. The direction was a few steps ahead of where we had tracked to, but I assumed that Iâ€™d missed a couple of turns or something. Anyway, some
Adam is all smiles going up. Itâ€™s scarier going down!
other Minis were going that way and, as we were newcomers, we assumed they must know the way... but obviously not. As a convoy of
There’s Brucey down there!
us head up this beaten track, a few Minis coming in the opposite direction tell us of our error. We quickly spin around and blast off to beat the others and get ourselves back on track
worn into a front tyre. We had a look and established it was catching on an arch recently fitted. Either way the tyre didn’t look too good and with the terrain we’re going to be travelling through, we all thought it best it was replaced.
eventually pulling up to the Stones of Rocca Malatina. There we met Les and Adam from Team 64. Les had noticed a deep groove being
Aaron and Les didn’t fancy the hike up to the summit of the stones, but I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity no matter how treacherous, so teamed up with Adam.
we saw the sign for lame and had to jump out for a cheeky snap It was also a great chance to stretch my legs after finally waking up. Boy did they miss out. Look at these photos. Beautiful 360-degree panoramic landscape for miles and miles, filled full of twisty roads that Minis dream of at night time. After enjoying the view, and the climb down, the pressure was on to reach the finish in time. We were learning fast that the time allowed wasnâ€™t exactly generous, so we had to keep up the pace. Not long after setting off though, we passed a roadsign for the hamlet of
Lame. We quickly pulled over and ran back to the sign for a quick cheeky snap before speeding off again. We were like silly little kids. It was ace! The combination of straight and bendy roads and a new set of Yokos on Bruce had Aaron as happy as a bunny at Easter. He was driving with exuberance and was keen to make the sticky wheels squeal into the numerous hairpin bends we were coming across. I gave him the nod to give it a go, but those damn tyres are good, really good. After a final push on the last bend the back
end squeaked round and put a big smile on our faces as we continued. With all the fun Aaron was having I was cursing my generosity in allowing him to drive. Those roads were immense. But, to be fair, he has done advanced emergency life-saving donâ€™t-get-blown-upor-shot driver training whilst in the Navy, so he can probably handle Bruce better than I can anyway. Passing through the Gaggio Montano region, the routebook stopped us at the Demm Motorbike Museum where we
Cooling down at the motorbike museum. regrouped with the rest of the Jobbers and popped the bonnet to let Bruce cool down.
Demm bikes R gr8
On-hand was some free snacks and drinks which were gratefully accepted in the 30-degree heat, and we took time to look at some old-school
The little Ping Pong bikes were cool. Italian motorcycles from the mid-50s. The little two-stroke 49cc were cute and looked very stylish â€“ very Italian! The little PingPongs that looked like Choppers caught our eye. Those wanting to use the facilities though may have been disappointed to find just a hole in the floor! Thankfully our lunch stop was just down the road in Porretta Terme.
As we arrived on the high street we were surprised to see one side of the road had been reserved for all our Minis and a local Polizia was parking us up. After a good breakfast I think most of us were expecting a light lunch, but three decent courses later and we were at capacity and ready to head back to the hotel. One thingâ€™s for sure, no-one was going to go
day 2 I pulled out a new set of ebc brake shoes and left them to it
The high street in Porretta Terme was reserved for our cars. hungry on this event! I took control for the return journey home, but sadly for me it wasn’t as exciting as the morning route. We spent most the way back in single lane convoy concentrating hard on avoiding the parts of the road that had eroded over the side of the cliff we were on. And this wasn’t some back-road, no. This was a main road. Those back-roads were perfect. Some drivers coming out of a tunnel were flashing us and we were puzzled, until we saw the police car and mobile speed camera. Back at the hotel Aaron and I set about adjusting
the ride height on Bruce as the big bumps were making the wheels catch the newly-fitted rear arches. After fiddling about for a bit, we couldn’t get it level, but fortunately the Service Crew had returned. After borrowing their heavyduty jack, I’m sure Gareth offered to sort it for us and who am I to argue? I asked if he wouldn’t mind adjusting the handbrake too and pulled out a set of new EBC Yellowstuff rear shoes and left them to it. I felt a bit guilty as it wasn’t an emergency job, and there were other Minis needing work, but
Roger Hunt - he pops up everywhere!
they were happy to do it and it was another moment that made me realise how special this event is. We checked out the pool where we had our first good chat with former Art Dealer and cigar chain-smoker, Peter Batkins. He is a character larger than life and over the course of the week his recollections of a time passed had us all enthralled.
After dinner, the karaoke evening entertainment, at the pool bar, was welcomed with just a few groans, but it was all in jest and the majority of the group got involved and had a sing-song with everyone else offering lots of support and encouragement! And yes, even yours truly took part towards the end. Despite being tone
This is a normal sized plate with HUGE fruit! deaf, a few pints later and Phil Collins and Lady Gaga had never sounded so good. Fortunately for most, the bar had cleared and even the DJ was packing upâ€Ś but still I was singing. Oh dear..
Left: Late night singing on karaoke murdering Madonna, Lady Gaga and Phil Collins. Right: Jason is too drunk to realise my singing sucks!!
The cloudy mountai n roads of San Pellegrino lit up the Minis! Superbikes zoom down the straight rn!! before we get a tu
“The day of my life”
e were up early on Saturday as we said farewell to Imola and the Hotel Molina Rosso, turning our heads towards Rome, via the Mugello Circuit near Florence. I had overheard that the roads to the track were amazing, so demoted Aaron to navigating so I could buzz around the roads after
Arriving at mugello d e k s a e v a h ’t n ld u o c e w for better weather
Autotesting at Mugello and the dreaded plastic cups challenge!
missing out yesterday. He would get his fair share of driving anyway. After a few days together we hadn’t fallen out and, infact, found we both had quite a lot in common - the way we think, in particular. It was like Bill & Ted, and we were enjoying every minute of it. The 45-mile cliff-side route
Queued up ready for the track.
A great selection of food on offer.
Service Crew hard at work.
to the circuit was another treat. The roads varied from wide to narrow, with both tight and open corners, but few long straights. At times we got stuck behind HGVs so had to pick our moments to blast past, bearing in mind the steep descent to our side! Ascending the mountains of San Pellegrino, Tuscany, we encountered some low-level cloud in the high altitude - which was a great reason to try the new foglights, and as we caught up to the Minis in front, they too had lit themselves up in lights, it was a great sight. Arriving at Mugello, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. We rolled through the paddock passing hundreds of bikes and the odd car which were zooming around the track.
Critical failure Ready to roll.
Freddie had arranged for us to have a few laps while the bikers were on lunch, so we did some autotesting and got some food before going ontrack.
Today was the day that the organisers decided to try a new autotest challenge… blindfolded driving! The driver listens to the co-driver and drives round a cone and back over the line. Well, even when Freddie and Gordon demonstrated how to do it, it looked pretty tricky, so when experienced jobber Roger Hunt drove towards the onlooking crowd the idea was hastily abandoned. We all chuckled and gave Roger a good ribbing for the rest of the day. For us, this is where we started to mess up our scores. We had to try and drive over six upturned disposable plastic cups and back over the line in 20 seconds. Now I’m not blaming anyone… but Aaron was driving! Hah! Perhaps it was my fault for not taking the wheel myself. After tucking into a broad selection of yummy food that even I was happy to scoff, it was finally time to get behind the wheel and head out on to the circuit. It was a magical moment. The track was so wide in the little classic Mini and the main
Regrouping and meeting our police escort at Gianicolo Hill.
straight so long, looking deep into the Italian hills. It was a spectacular view. Add a row of Minis into the picture and any Mini enthusiast would be hard pushed for a better scene. With no overtaking allowed, the best we could do was back off and get a little space to zoom into the corners before making the most of the wide track. It gave me a real buzz of wanting to put my foot down and really get some speed up
around the track - oh that would have been so great. As it was, it was still thrilling. Comparing it to Imola, both tracks are of a similar length, but Mugello seems wider and more open, and hillier than Imola. I liked it. A few laps later and the journey to Rome was set to resume, and even after reaching Florence, Rome was another three hours away. So off we set down the Autostrada to see if the Mini would survive being shaken to death. It was a long and arduous journey, and one that took its toll on fellow jobbers Rob and Josh Pool who ClubMiniRoma boys turn up to meet us and get some stickers!
lost a wheel whilst on their travels to Rome, thanks to a loose wheel net. But they were ok, no disaster and they met up with us later. Once in the centre of Rome we had a bit of difficulty working out how to get to the meeting point on Gianicolo Hill â€“ and Rome is not the kind of place you want to be lost in, with traffic buzzing left and right, roads crumbling and diverted at every turn. Fortunately we caught sight of another jobber and, in true Designated translator
Ready to hit Rome.
Italian style, forced our way through to follow them. We made it. Gianicolo Hill offers a great overview of Rome with its domes and classical look. Meeting us at the top were members of ClubMiniRoma, who all drive MINIs. We used the international language of English to talk to them while they tried to understand what we were saying. Eventually one of them knew some English and immediately was designated the role of translator. Itâ€™s true but all the boys were good lads and soon they would become good friends too. Freddie had arranged for the Roma police to escort the Minis through the centre of Rome. The chief of police
the traff ic of rome stood still for us could have taken us the boring way but instead was kind enough to take us on an extended scenic route. It was very, very special. This is no mean feat, and to have all the traffic stopped in Italyâ€™s capital city on a sunny summer Saturday afternoon was a real spectacle. Horns were beeping and lights flashing, tuned in with the sirens of the police on their motorcycles as the waved us through. Tourists and locals alike waved and took photos, whilst others stood like statues, openmouthed. The cobbled roads did no
Al fresco dining...
Crowne Plaza Rome Via Aurelia Antica 415 P.O.Box 9076 Rome 0871 423 4876 www.crowneplaza.com
favours to the poor suspension of the classic Minis and as soon as I heard a clunking of metal sound I started to panic! I frantically looked and listened around whilst trying to pay attention to the convoy ahead. “It’s not us,” Aaron reassures me. “It’s the guys behind us. Their exhaust has fallen off its bracket.” I sighed a breath of relief. That should be a pretty easy one to fix for the Service Crew. And we continued to
A birthday cake for one of the Jobbers
bounce along flashing our lights and beeping our horn with the rest of the convoy until we reached the magnificent Crowne Plaza Hotel. This would be our home for the rest of the tour, and what a home. This place has everything you want; outdoor pool, indoor pool, sauna, jacuzzi, gym, double beds as standard, great views and great food. Wow. Just wow.
Hot summer nights
The first night’s meal was an al-fresco buffet of spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, as well as a barbeque. Being a fussy eater, this was my ideal food night and I took advantage to stuff myself with burgers, hot dogs, lasagne and fries. They don’t do malt vinegar over there, so I used Tabasco sauce as a substitute for the duration of the event. Yum! As it was a Saturday night, and we were in the capital of Italy,
Aaron and I were keen to hit the town for a proper night out. The ClubMiniRoma boys had been invited to dinner so I persuaded them to take us into town. After some initial reluctance I used a combination of charm, cheek and blackmail until they submitted and we went for some drinks. Around 12.30am and the city centre was still heaving (proper choc-a-bloc) with traffic and lots of pretty people drinking on the streets. I saw an Italian classic Mini in the gridlock and went and shook hands with the driver before helping some underskilled Italian girl park her MINI without bumping the car behind her. Aaron and the boys enjoyed laughing at me and after a while we headed back to crash out after an epic and very memorable day.
The view from Tivoli was amazing.
Fountains of knowledge
he next day we travelled east to Tivoli, a town with majestic views overlooking Rome. There, we had some autotests and a spot of breakfast in the marvellous weather. Aaron charmed a group of girls into posing with a Mighty Minis sunstrip I had knocking around, while Roger Hunt tried to convince a local to let him go for a spin on his vintage motorcycle. After picking up some souvenirs, we headed to the
breathtaking Villa d’Este. It’s a 16th Century UNESCO World Heritage Site and an outstanding example of renaissance architecture. The villa has a wonderful story about how Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este had it built with many symbolic features highlighting his ambition to become Pope in Rome. He never did. Nevertheless, the villa is exquisite and in the gardens every fountain and sculpture has its own tale to tell. The tour was fascinating and the hot weather made the water
so tempting to dive into. Amazingly, all the fountains were originally powered through natural means and hydraulic engineering, channelling the water and creating pressure points. Two underground tunnels bring water to the gardens from the local river to feed the Fountain of Tivoli, which, in turn, feeds the other
Every fountain and sculpture has its own tale to tell
The three pools kept fish used for banquets.
Fountain of Dragons.
cardinal ippolito wanted to take the hotseat at the vatican
fountains. Inside, we were shown two main rooms; one called the room of Hercules, an important God; and the other is a the main banquet room dedicated to the city of Tivoli. On the ceiling is an amazing fresco of the Banquet of the Gods, whilst on the wall is a picture of the original plans for the garden. The extensive gardens are peppered with fountains, but the Fountain of the Organ is the only musical one. Created with originally only 22 pipes, it now has 144 and is also powered naturally
God speaks to Noah.
through an underground chamber which powers a waterwheel, creating pockets of air which are released through different lengthed tubes, creating the music.
The Fountain of Neptune was in the original plans but wasn’t built until 1927. The Fountain of Dragons is a strange one, in that it makes horrible noises from the dragons’ mouths to scare off unwanted guests. It was erected in 1572 for the visit of Pope Gregory XIII (created our calendar), whose coat of arms, features a dragon. In the sculpture the dragons (or Ladon) are protecting the golden apple stolen by Hercules as part of his 12 labours.
We overlooked the palace walls with a view to Rome, and saw St. Peter’s Basilica just visible on The garden’s original de the horizon. sign. The walls themselves opposite were built on top of medieval the Fountain of Tivoli. The walls already in place. Another 100 Fountains Pathway sits interesting fact is that over time inbetween, symbolising the aspects of the Villa changed. path Cardinal Ippolito wanted In the 17th Century a garden to take from Tivoli to Rome into feature of Mother Nature was the hotseat at the Vatican. moved because it was deemed Back inside and the guide to be a Pagan symbol. shows me the Villa’s Chapel, The Fountain of Rome with the original was designed to represent a flooring and miniature Rome, and is situated the
oun ins f
Charity cheque presentation. Cardinal’s bedroom, which I thought was surprisingly small. Pictures of scantily clad women around the room apparently symbolise the virtues of the Cardinal. Finally there were more jaw-dropping frescos inside the Room of Noah and Room of Moses. After a charity cheque I take Giorgio for a spin in Bruce!
presentation to the local townspeople we flashed and honked our way onto our lunch stop at another UNESCO World Heritage Site - Villa Adriana. After lunch I let the president of ClubMiniRoma, Giorgio Giox, go for a spin in my classic Mini, as he had never driven one before. I’m sure it’s now
top of his Christmas list! We said goodbye to the CMR boys for the final time and headed to the hotel. Aaron had been cursing not packing some swimming shorts for a few days – well he didn’t have much notice did he? – and we we’re joking about the chances of finding a recognisable semi-decent clothes store out in Italy, when, on our way back to the hotel
we saw a shopping mall with a H&M store. Ha, unbelievable luck! We sharply pulled up and popped in. After a wander round, we came back to the Mini to discover I’d left the lights on – daytime lights being compulsory in Italy. So, Aaron put his naval physique to good use and pushed Bruce down the road until he roared into life again. In the evening the Italian Job fundraising auction was held and everyone seemed to smarten themselves up a little. Items up for auction ranged from the exclusive to the exceedingly silly and could be literally anything. From a dinner at the BAFTAs Film Academy and David Beckham’s signed
football boots, to a supermarket mop and four wheelnuts and plenty inbetween. Raising bids of £1000, £800 and £100 each respectively, the evening’s total made a record £7000 in just a few hours. The Canadians offered a Canadian survival kit, whilst there was plenty of alcohol and Mini-related gifts up for grabs too. Jockney Euan was left redfaced during one of his comical bids when he mistakenly bid a ‘monkey’ – which is £500, instead of £50.
Italian Job Tour 2013 Auction 6x Gold bars stamped with IJ2013 £150 1x Mini engine bag & mafia prints £80 1x 45 years of Mini Corgi Miniatures £60 1x Day clay pigeon shooting/ Tea at the Ritz / Dinner at Harrods £170 5x Original Italian Job Tour programme from 1991 £25each 1x Signed Welsh Rugby Shirt from 2002 £200 2x Tickets to see Man Utd £220 1x Cross-stitch Mini pics £300 1x Paddy Hopkirk signed photo £100 1x Pair of David Beckham’s boots £850 2x Nights at the Crowne Plaza Rome £300 1x Week in Lake District cottage £400 1x Date & lunch at BAFTA £1000 1x Mop & haggis shooting holiday £100 4x Alloy wheel nuts £100 2x Tickets for Arsenal £200 1x Feature in love:mini magazine £250 Plus many more
Over £7000 raised on the night
Within a few hours over seven grand was raised for charity
Beckham’s boots priceless to any diehard Man Utd fan.
Attentively staring at, err I mean paying attention to, the tour guide.
onday was a nodriving day, and a tour of the Vatican had been planned. We took a coach there and spotted a classic Mini parked up along the way. In the midst of summer, on a glorious day, the place was heaving with tourists just like us. It was noisy and the tour guide wasn’t very enthusiastic although quite cute. There was a lot to take in, as you might expect with such an expansive history, and it was very difficult to understand and comprehend all of it. As most of you will know Vatican City is a sovereign city state, the smallest in the world at just 110-acres. It sits on one of Rome’s seven traditional
hills, Vatican Hill, the first construction of what now encompasses Vatican City started with a basilica to St Peter - one of Jesus’s 12 apostles - around 320AD on the site of his tomb. As Christianity grew, the site became more important and was expanded over the Centuries. In the late 15th Century
A heavenly light shines down on us.
The Vatican staircase. the original basilica was found to be unsafe and so was destroyed and rebuilt with the current building. During the demolition though, over half of the previous Pope’s tombs were also destroyed. The new building included Michaelangelo as one of its designers. He was also commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel, but didn’t want to because he was a sculptor, not a painter, and he had other jobs on. Eventually he agreed and took four years to paint the chapel’s famous frescos. The job also led to the onset of his sclerosis. The chapel is multipurpose; for electing the new pope; as a church; and as a fort when
under attack in historical times. During Papal elections local people used to lock the cardinals in the chapel until they had decided on a new pope. The longest conclave to choose took over two years, but the local people lost their patience and rationed the cardinals’ food to hurry them. The nine scenes from Genesis is probably the most wellknown painting in the chapel, and our guide informs us that the first scene was done in just one day. All the frescos are painted in a limited set of colours to ensure continuity throughout the museum. It was during this Renaissance period that the Pope become concerned Italy’s best artworks were being exported, so they bought them up for the museum. The obelisk outside St Peter’s was taken from Heliopolis in Greece by Roman Emperor, Caligula, for use on the site’s previous construction Circus de Nero. Many of the statues on show are replicas, as the original bronze ones were melted down. Michaelangelo
himself was said to be heavily influenced by the highly regarded statue of Apollo. After getting a bit fed up of the crowds, Aaron and I took a shortcut to the Sistine Chapel and cut out early. We stopped off at the Vatican Post Office so Aaron could send his churchgoing mum a postcard telling her it was all a myth. I had been to Rome before, so with an afternoon to ourselves we went for a walk to see the sights. First off was St Peter’s, just around the other side of the Vatican. A picture here is a must. Then we trundled into town and decided to stop for a bite to eat. Not too impressed with my suggestions of Subway - “I’m not coming to
cardinals food was rationed to speed up papal elections love:mini
Dear Mum, Went to God’s HQ discovered it’s all a myth.
Lots of love Aaron xxx
Italy and eating fast food, Craig!” - we chose a little streetside cafe. As it happens we sat next to an American couple who had come into Rome from their cruise ship on coast for a day to check it out. It’s always nice to bump into other English-speakers and we had a good little chat. Having forced my hand, I chose something simple, Italian, and something I knew I would eat - Hawaiian pizza. The American guy laughed at me, but quickly added that Hawaiian was his favourite too. The pizza was huge, but it all Chatting to the Americans.
got eaten in the end. My memory had served me well and the Pantheon was just around the corner, as was the Trevi Fountain. We wandered about, got some photos and stalked some hot girls for a bit. Aaron wanted to find some more clothes shops and so with no agenda and a lovely day, we took a nice stroll through the city centre before randomly getting stopped by two cute Italian girls wanting us to send her friend a birthday wish by video message. That was a nice Compare the plate sizes!!
little perk of the day.
Music to watch girls by
We came across a Zara shop and Aaron dragged me in. “Isn’t this a chick’s shop?” I ask… showing how much I know. Looking around, my curious mind almost got me decapitated on the escalator, as I peered over the bannister, before Aaron pulled my neck in… phew! The combination of hot weather and hot girls had our eyes out on stalks for most of the day, so we went and grabbed an ice-cream and chilled out by the Trevi Fountain to soak up the atmosphere. We caught the very cheap Metro back to our hotel stop and then a bus, after I picked up an obligatory Azure Blue Italia t-shirt for €5. Today was the day that I
really put my skills into action. Having been left to our own devices, we hadn’t been given out regular gorging on food and when we returned for dinner we were starving. Unfortunately for me, the menu consisted mainly of salad, salad, more salad and veg stuff. I’d been my usual outgoing self up until now and had made friends with the restaurant manager - Valerio. I explained my situation and he was happy to make me something special after everyone else had eaten their food. It was a good job he did serve it after the others had finished too, as I was treated to a lovely big plate of steak and chips. Heaven. And I could feel envious eyes burning into me at every angle. Oh well. Delicimo! It was quiz night that evening and Aaron and I were expecting to get quashed by the frequent jobbers on the tour. Somehow we came joint second, which left us cursing the ones we got wrong by just a few fractions – it could have been ours! In the end, the eventual winners - the Frazer boys, David and Cameron - came
and gave us the Italian Job clock prize anyway. Thanks lads, How very kind. I am well chuffed. Just don’t ask me which questions I got wrong ok? No, seriously. It’s embarrassing. Later, in the bar, I invited an Italian Facebook friend, Daniele John Cooper Garages, to the hotel for a chat. Also in the bar were some Lufthansa air crew who were stopping at the hotel. Aaron took a shine to the female steward but lucked out and went to bed early. He didn’t believe me when I later
told him I’d got a kiss from her… RIGHT: A matt-black Mini-esque Chatenet car we came across.
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Ducati owners pose with us for a pic; Mafia Freddie directs us into the vineyard; all parked up.
The wrong direction
ay six brought home to us that the Tour was coming to its final few days, and the sense of loss that was to come was setting in. It had been way too much fun and it would be greatly missed. So we had better make the most of the last two days. Another autotest started our journey and my head was still ringing from the night before, so again Aaron took over driving duties while I navigated. Today we were meant to be heading for a lake – Castel Gandolfo, from which we then had to send a photo to Freddie to try and win the best picture at the lake. So we set off and
Catching up with the last of the Minis at the lake car park.
after about half an hour of navigation I’m looking ahead at the route and say to Aaron: “Isn’t there meant to be a lake we’re visiting today?”. “Yes,” he says. “Well I can’t find one on here.” I reply to him. We both know we’re meant to be heading to a lake. So he looks at me and I look at the book. Then I flick back a few pages. “What day is it today?” I ask him. “Wednesday or Tuesday,” I say. “Wednesday, no, Tuesday!” he states. Hmmm. He eases off the accelerator. “Yeah, I think I’ve made a mistake and we’re going the wrong way.“ I confess. He looks at me with that look – you know the one. “How far the wrong way?” Aaron asks. “What is the closest point to get us on the right route?” he continues. We were heading west out of Rome, and our destination was south-east of the Capital. “The… hotel…” I sheepishly reply (remembering that this guy is trained to kill).
Warning: This photo is real.
There’s a few moments of silence. “Go on, say it.” I urge. “Say what?,” he asks. “Say ‘you’re a bell-end’.” I tell him. “You’re a bell-end,” he says. We chuckle, spin the car around and head in the opposite direction for the lake. Having been in Rome a few days now, we’d got the hang of the ring road and buzzed
along to get back on track. As we reach the lake we catch up with the last of the Minis and proceed to try and come up with a good photo idea. Aaron spots two Ducati owners with a pair of spanking new red bikes so I give them a tap for a piccy. It takes a bit more sign language and slow English but eventually we get the photo we want and they shoot off. I’m keen to get Bruce on to the shoreline somehow from the road and find an access route. I have a quick word and persuade the coastguard to let me get the Mini onto the beach for some lovely pictures of Bruce. We stop for a drink and watch the coastguard helicopter perform some drills rescuing people from the water, before we carry on to our destination in Frascati to a vineyard just
The grapes are grown organically high up away from the ground.
down the road from the Pope’s summer residence. As we progressed, the navigation book highlighted an uneven road ahead. We’d quickly learnt early on that, as the Italian roads were ludicrously bumpy anyway, anything highlighted in the book is likely to resemble a
The 12-hectare site produces only quality organic wine
brick wall - and we weren’t far wrong, encountering a hefty tree root casually growing in the middle of the tarmacked road. After a parade lap through Frascati we spot Freddie loitering by the side of the road and he waves us through into the vineyard car park.
The beautiful vineyard Casal Pilozzo was like something out of a film set, stereotypically rustic Italian with sunshine cascading over the hillside and leafy trees and sunshades alongside ivy and grapevines. The 12-hectare site isn’t a particularly large one but produces only quality organic wine, one of the best Frascati named after the region. Frascati are famously the wine hills of Rome. The site here had been used for wine production for many centuries, but 150 years ago production stopped. The current owner recognised the positive qualities of the vineyard, such as its position relative to the sun and the airflow coming over the crest of the hills, and
The Pagan altar.
e Over 240,000 bottles ar stored in the cellar.
took over the site in 1987, restarting wine production and focussing on quality not quantity. Currently the vineyard produces five red wines, three white wines, a Chardonnay and olive oil. To produce the quality wine, the vines are trailed upwards up high for organic production and so that fungus and other microorganisms on the ground canâ€™t reach and contaminate them. The vines are then intensively pruned with very little fruit production, so the nutrients are concentrated into quality grapes. Depending on the how the crops have done over the growing season, the vineyard can expect to
produce around 600 bottles per hectare. The owner showed us around the site explaining how it all works and letting us explore the hillside, take in the glorious panoramic view and examine the vines themselves. The history lesson continued inside the naturally-cooled cellar, 42m under the hillside we were just stood on. Hundreds of thousands of bottle of wine are stored here, dating back to 1992. But even more surprising to find was what is believed to be a Pagan altar, dating back from around the 4th or 5th Century. It was a shrine to the Sun God with symbols carved into the stone symbolising the umbilical
Lunch is served. cord of mother Earth. It was also a point of contact to the Gods, between life and death and possibly to sacrifice virgins. The volcanic rock in which the shrine is carved is similar to the fine ash of the famous Pompeii Vesuvius eruption. There were fonts present too which were likely to be used during rituals.
Playing it safe
After the history lesson had finished it was time to sample the wares. A session of wine tasting was put on with a light lunch, and I kept a close eye on jobber Peter Batkin who has a taste for wine. He was impressed by it, so I take it that it must be quite good. I’m not quite sure what lunch was - ham, olives and that type of Mediterranean stuff, so took my usual safe option and had some bread and cheese with some olive oil, which was actually nicer than it might sound. Other jobbers who had penchant for wine took the opportunity to stock up before we all gathered for a nice big group
shot and made our own way back. On our return to the hotel we found that Bruce was having a little coughing fit whenever we tried to push him over 3800revs. We checked the leads, plugs, dizzy cap and rotor arm, which are all new, and then I thought about the carb or an air leak, but all looked ok. We asked the Service Crew chaps to have a look and they couldn’t work it out either. With only one day left and another huge trek to make it to Calais on time, we needed the Mini in tiptop condition. I thought perhaps it might be a blockage in the carb needle that I could perhaps dislodge with some high revs but alas no. It was a mystery.
Bruce was having a coughing Fit when pushed...
A grave ending
he final full day on The Italian Job Run had an air of sad sentiment. Possibly because we would soon be saying goodbye to these amazing people who had become like family over the course of the week. Or it could be because we were heading to a necropolis! After a final autotest in the hotel car park we followed a route west that seemed strangely familiar – probably because I had accidentally directed us down this road yesterday! This time we got it right and the teams arrived at Necropoli Della Banditaccia – an ancient cemetery or city of the dead, over 2,600 years old. It was built by the Etruscans, in a region called Etrudia in a time just before the Roman Empire. These structures you
see are tombs which were excavated from below ground level - so ground level used to be at the top of the tombs and all the soft rock was excavated with ancient tools to create each tomb. The Etruscan culture was heavily influenced by the Greeks with independent cities and the same alphabet. They also believed in life after death which is why death held so much importance. After a ceremonial burial with food, drink and flowers, many of the tombs were filled with the occupant’s personal belongings - to take them into the afterlife. The oldest tombs, dated to the 11th Century BC, were simple structures with barely two rooms for direct family members, whilst
Setting off together for the final time was quite poignant. over the Centuries they became more elaborate, expanding to house a wider family network and being built deeper, underneath the older tombs. As the Etruscans developed they discovered a healthy
source of iron and began mining it and selling it alongside their exquisite terracotta pottery, increasing their wealth and status. As their wealth increased so did the size and flair incorporated into their final resting places. A wealthy family tomb around 7th Century BC, for example, would be geometrical, have 10 beds and three doorways and would resemble
home. Triangular headstones would indicate a womanâ€™s tomb. Amongst the belongings were vases, vividly picturing ancient scenes of life on them.
By around 4th Century BC the style of the tombs had changed, becoming much bigger and housing up to 20 or 30 people. The culture of the Etruscans was changing too; bodies began to be wrapped up in shrouds and there was a greater fear of death. The Roman invasion was imminent. A creative 3D film was shown and projections inside the tombs gave us a greater insight into
The necropolis was full of ancient Etruscan tombs .
The Etruscans were even shorter than our tour guide.
An older, more basic tomb.
who they were and how the Etruscans lived - as well as making us all look rather silly in those 3D glasses! For lunch we drove to a small fortified medieval town called Ceri, perched up high on an exposed volcanic tuff rock. Inhabited from the 7th Century BC, itâ€™s current setup dates from 1236
Inside one of the most elaborate tombs found.
AD. With just 100 inhabitants it feels pretty isolated and very special. The Minis were allowed to convoy up the ramps and drive around the town square which barely had enough space to fit the Minis in, before a yummy â€˜medievalâ€™ lunch. Our guide from the necropolis had accompanied us and once again was telling us about the history and how it links in the with Etruscans. Whilst waiting for lunch he
Meeting up at Ceri before ascending the ramps into town.
The fortifIed medieva l town felt very eerie brought out a photo which is said to have captured the image of a ghost in the town buildings. After lunch had finished it was mid-afternoon and we navigated back to the hotel to prepare for the big night - the black tie and awards night. En route our attention was redirected back to the power issue with Bruce and the stuttering issue when we get to about 73mph. I was particularly concerned bearing in mind our return journey was set to be extremely challenging. Once back at the hotel I opened up the bonnet and whipped off the grille and splashguard. There, staring me in the face, was the issue. It had to beâ€Ś The electronic module on the distributor had lost a screw and was wobbling around. This poor connection would explain the problem with the power, if enough spark wasnâ€™t igniting the fuel mixture, it would cause the stuttering effect we felt. The Service Crew were quickly in and sorted it. Job done ready for the drive home. Brilliant, that had really made my day. Bruce was back to his
best and ready for the mission ahead. Aaron and I got all scrubbed up (separately!), and he kindly helped me with my bow tie and lent me a pair of cufflinks. Damn, we looked smart!
Pulling out all the stops As we sat for dinner together for the last time there was a trophy at each seat for everyone who had taken part. A slideshow of photos from the event was on the big screen and we sat back to recall how much we had done in such a short space of time. Each team had their own unique adventure but as
a group we were all in it together. The awards were given out and Bill Handley took the Best Dressed Mini with his funny-looking trailer with two mannequin heads in it. Duncan and Steve impressively won the overall Italian Job navigational award on their first time on the Run, racking up the points. And a special award for the Best Behaved Jobbers, went to Guilia and Hannah Gray, who were delightful little girls and great companions on our journey. The evening frivolities together cemented friendships and gave Bill another chance to regale us with never-ending jokes with terrible punchlines. Ha! Whilst my comrade, Mr Leverton, was chatting away to two young ladies he had met the night before. Discovering one was married, I made an exit and took my own path and was tipped off by some Jobbers about another girl. After a bit of chit-chat, I asked her what she did for work. In her thick Russian accent she said: “I am a prostitute.” With me being skint, and no freebies on offer, the conversation quickly died, and I went back to rib those who had tipped me off.
It was an evening we all didn’t want to end because we knew it was home time tomorrow, but with time ticking by and 1000-miles to cover in the next 36-hours it was time for bed… alone.
Calais, Aaron was insistent we head back through Switzerland - reluctant to fork out for the Mont Blanc tunnel toll again. Looking at the route, it seemed the time taken would be the same, but a: it would be a nicer view and b: it would probably cost less than taking the extortionate French toll roads. After I got us to Milan, Aaron took control of the wheel and put in a remarkable 11-hour stint â€“ with breaks, of course. At the Swiss Beautiful Swiss Alps. border we caught up with Adam and Les from Team 64 and after paying the Swiss toll, left them behind us as we took in the
fter stocking our bellies up on our final breakfast together we took time to say our goodbyes. Leaving all those special people we had met behind was really tough. A final check of Brucey before we filled up and prepared for the endurance test of my life. At least when I had set off from the UK I was oblivious to the task ahead, unfortunately, this time, I knew what I was getting myself into. As we departed Rome for
scenic landscapes and wild waterfalls cascading over the cliffsides. As the route took us through some of Switzerlandâ€™s delightful alpine towns we continued the tradition of beeping and waving as we passed through. The weather took a downturn as we entered France and to make things worse we missed a turning at Mulhouse to take us on the main route to Strasbourg. Despite my protestations Aaron decided to carry on and I had to find another route on the fly.
Another wrong turn later and we were eventually heading in the right direction on the road to Nancy on the French equivalent of an A-road. It was a dark, unlit road and it was pissing it down with rain so much we had to use doublewiper speed! It was scary as hell. We couldn’t see 20ft in front of ourselves and we were losing time badly. We’d been on this alternative road for ages, and as it got into late evening severe hunger was setting in and we just had to find some food. We finally reached a half-decent sized town - Epinal - and were begging for a late night fastfood joint, takeaway, kebab house… anything!!! As we swerved around the empty streets we saw a giant sign pointing to McDonald’s, and we set off at full steam. But it was shut. What is this country?!!
Mini vs Lorry
After cutting our losses we refilled at an automated filling station and zoomed to Nancy and then on to Reims by the early hours. By 4am we were both shattered and dangerously so. So we had a rest for an hour before I restarted the engine.
We were 150km from Calais and had just over an hour to make the train. It was going to be tight. Tiredness was still bearing down on me heavily and Aaron was out like a light. I could feel my eyelids drooping and had already given myself a few slaps in the face and opened the window a crack before I woke to find us bearing down on the back of an articulated lorry at full speed and no time to stop. With little time to At Calais... alive (just!).
one. Bonus. So with time to kill, we both took a well deserved rest in the warm, facilitated checkpoint building, safe in the knowledge we were just a train ride away from our beautiful homeland. After the short 35-minute trip on the train, Aaron took over for his final drive home to Oxford whilst I apparently “snored” in the passenger seat. At Oxford it was time for final goodbyes and it felt like I’d lost a brother. We’ve made a strong connection and will be keeping in touch. Then all that was left for me to do was to head back to see those two beautiful kids of mine and get some welldeserved shut-eye. Considering Bruce’s past history, I couldn’t fault him over the week. He’s had to put up with a lot of hard work on some pretty poor roads but truly did me proud. Who’d have thought it? 4000 miles in a week with barely a fault. I’ll never criticise him again. The Italian Job Run has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, with all that we’ve seen and done, and especially the wonderful people we met. I would highly recommend anyone - and everyone! - to take part. It’s all for a good cause and I promise it will be an experience you will never want to forget.
think I saw a car overtaking us and so was forced to dart onto the hard shoulder and past the unsuspecting lorry on the wrong side. It was definitely not my finest moment, and could have been curtains for us both. Very lucky. Phew. Even at Dropping Aaron off in Oxford. break-neck speeds we just missed our scheduled Eurotunnel train at Calais, but had automatically been booked on to the next
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n an effort to help raise funds and keep the Italian Job Run going, most Jobbers contact media outlets to increase awareness, gather public support and maximise charitable donations. Both Aaron and I got a decent amount of publicity on our epic adventure, and with the story that followed, it was a great read too! Thanks to the Oxford Mail, Colne Times, Burnley & Pendle Review, Burnley Express and Burnley Citizen.
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Exclusive coverage of the most prestigious event in the Mini calendar. We drive our classic Mini over 4000 miles in a week from the UK to I...
Published on Dec 4, 2013
Exclusive coverage of the most prestigious event in the Mini calendar. We drive our classic Mini over 4000 miles in a week from the UK to I...