Words: Elliott Hughes | Photography: Int. St Moritzer Automobilwochen AG
Since its revival in 2014, the Bernina Gran Turismo hillclimb has rapidly established itself as a top-tier event on the historic racing calendar. Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the event enjoyed another successful year in 2020, and this year the organisers plan to “go one better”, by adding two new events to “revitalise the International St Moritz Automobile Week”.
Head of the events, specialist Florian Seidl, is bullishly confident about this year’s ambitious plans: “We have proven with Bernina Gran Turismo that we can do it… That’s why we’re also convinced that 2021 is the right time to launch two new events at the same time.”
The St Moritz Automobile Weeks were originally held in 1929 and 1930, and comprised a Kilometre Race on the nearby Schnellstraße (dual carriageway), a concours d’élégance, a Gymkhana, a rally, and the Bernina Gran Turismo as the flagship event.
The Bernina Gran Turismo’s allure is twofold. Firstly, it takes place on one of the world’s greatest driving roads; the Bernina Pass, a 5.6km tendril of challenging twists and turns. Then there’s the diverse mix of classic cars and drivers that arrive to take on the challenge, which range from hatchbacks to Formula 1 cars.
Seidl is keen to keep the historical providence of the original events intact by recreating them as closely as possible, but concedes that the Kilometre Race on public roads is “no longer in keeping with the times”. To get around this, the organising team has been in contact with Engadin Airport, which has apparently provided “very strong support for the project”. The airport also happens to be in the proximity of where the Kilometre Race was originally held.
The planned concours d’élégance will be known as The Motorsport Revival. The premise is a focus on racing and sports cars, and for “interesting topics and important collections to be shown, which are otherwise not accessible to the public”, according to Seidl.
The Motorsport Rendezvous will be held at the luxurious Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains, and tickets will be strictly limited to maintain the event’s exclusivity. That said, the organisers assure us that the carefully curated selection of cars will be accessible to the general public, by virtue of an additional day. “If the pandemic allows us, we want to welcome a fair number of spectators to the beautiful Engadin,” says Seidl.
The organisers also wish to use the events as a chance to encourage the next generation of classic car enthusiasts to get involved in the scene. To do this, the concours d’élégance will be judged by a “decidedly young jury”, and there will also be a discussion panel intended to provide a platform for the younger generation to have a voice.
The dates for the events of this year’s International St Moritz Automobile Week can be found below:
Kilomètre Lancé – Alpine 1000 (Kilometre Race): September 10-12, 2021, Engadin Airport.
Motorsport Rendezvous Concours d’Élégance: September 15-17, 2021, Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains.
Automotive Film Festival St Moritz: September 10-15, 2021.
Bernina Gran Turismo: September 16-19, 2021, Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains and at the Bernina Pass.
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