My experience at the Tour Auto Optic 2000 as a Zenith co-pilot.
DAY 1 PARIS-VICHY 499 KM
DAY 2 VICHY-CLERMONT FERRAND 347 KM
DAY 3 CLERMONT-FERRAND – TOULOUSE 463KM
DAY 4 TOULOUSE-PAU 370 KM
DAY 5 PAU- BIARRITZ 226KM
“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. ”
Last April, I was lucky enough to take part in the Tour Auto, one of the most prestigious classic car rally’s in the world. It was held the magical scenery of French territory, counted roughly 250 cars, and covered 1905km! As you can imagine, it was the most sensational trip I have ever taken, taking me from Paris all the way to Biarritz in company of my dear father Dominique Vananty ,who is a reconverted classic car racer. My job in all that? Co-pilot, and what an honor it was to be the chosen to ride alongside my father to represent our sponsor Zenith watches during this iconic rally. For the occasion, we were both gifted a beautiful Zenith watch to wear during our trip.
I obviously don’t need to mention to you that it became the ultimate fashion accessory during the trip and was the perfect match with the rest of my ensemble which consisted of a black glamorous Zenith racing suit and Sparco shoes.
Funnily enough, I did not quite grasp the concept of what to wear to a classic car rally! When packing, my hopeless romantic spirit had somewhat envisioned a Grace Kelly moment in To catch a thief, wearing a belted retro dresses , leather gloves, a head scarf, high waisted pants white shirts…
Needless to say my imagination resulted in a 25kg suitcase which I had to carry around ( in the assistance truck , as the Porsche trunk was too small). Note to self: Next year you only need three outfits: the racing suit, pj’s and gala dress!
Enough with the fashion chat, let me tell you about this fantastic journey!
As mentioned previously, the experience was amazing, the landscapes breathtaking, and emotions were high especially during the different stages of the race. Particularly the ones requiring you to wear a helmet and telling the driver when to take the turns that are coming up, or when to break to avoid driving into a tree or landing your beautiful car off the side of a bridge.
The journey in itself was very intense and truly required a lot of mental a physical preparation. Each morning departure was at 7 am which meant getting up at 5 am after having barely slept as you’re fueled with adrenaline from the previous day! I often caught myself dreaming about overtaking cars and before I knew the alarm clock would go and I would have to jump into my super sexy fireproof Sparco underwear. Being in the competition category with my father, we did not have time to slack and take things with a light hearted approach, we were driving all day long about 11-13hours a day, following the road book carefully, we normally had one or two special stages in the morning then stopping for a quick 25min lunch in a wonderful French place, either castles or rural abbeys, following by an other hour or two of drive to finally arrive at the last challenge of the day, a circuit for some speed track racing.
The tour Auto, is definitely not for beginners and the level of piloting quite high, my dad wasn’t always very comfortable having me in the car and hindsight some co-piloting lessons would have been welcomedat I can visualize as I type this. All these hours, spent in a few square meters, by my father were true happiness. From the warm smile of spectators to the charming time sharing with others competitors, this Tour Auto gave me strength and made me discover a new passionate world, the world. Either way, we had a blast and our father & daughter team managed to gain a position in the top 10, second in the Porsche and engine category. All together not bad for a first time!
Aside from the adrenaline rushes you get from risking your life at special stages, there were also many soothing moments when you could enjoy lovely people smiling and waving at you along the road, old passionate men but also kids dreaming about the never ending rows of old fashioned beauties. So many lovely souvenirs of classic cars, where privileged but passionate gentlemen drivers compete for emotions instead of material accomplishments.
It was a first in the historic racing world and definitively not the last as the What-to-Where team will be embarking tomorrow on a new journey for the Rallye des Caprices. Follow our adventures on Instagram @what_to_where_blog .
ZENITH TOUR AUTO VIDEOS:
Tour Auto Tour Auto Tour Auto Tour Auto Tour Auto Tour Auto