Brit wheels roll through Rockies
Ten sports cars — six imported from Great Britain — embarked on a 10-day trek through the Rocky Mountains from Red Deer on Thursday morning.
More than 20 enthusiasts of Caterham cars from all over North America and England gathered in a corner of the iHotel parking lot in Red Deer for the blat, or cruise as it is known in Canada.
They will drive to Vancouver Island over the next week and a half through the Rockies, a trip some are excited for.
“Last November my wife and I sat down and I said I really wanted to do this,” said Angus Denny.
“I really like touring and camping. We take a tent normally and pack it through Europe. But this time I said I would really like to go to Canada for fantastic driving through the Rockies. It’s going to happen, I have the time.”
The trip started as an idea three years ago pitched by Red Deer resident Terry Johns saying “Anybody fancy the idea of a blat through the Rockies?” Johns came to Canada eight years ago from England and is passionate about his Caterhams.
Denny, from Guildford, England, said it took a while for someone on the British end of the trip to step up and organize it. When he decided he was committed to going, he came forward and started organizing it from his end.
“It was more effort than I thought it would be because nobody does this sort of thing,” said Denny. “You say ‘I want to ship my car to Canada,’ and they say, ‘You want to do what?! Why don’t you just hire a car on the other end?’”
But some people understood why Denny and his small group of Caterham enthusiasts wanted to do this.
“I’m here to have a great time, experience the country, the people and everyone I’ve met so far has been friendly and interested in the cars,” said Denny.
Joan and Taber Tompkins from Destin, Florida, were jokingly lamenting their decision to leave the Florida Panhandle and come to Canada on a cloudy and cool August morning in Alberta. But they were excited to get underway to a part of Canada they know well.
“We do a couple of smaller trips and there has not been a trip like this since 2005,” said Taber. “We didn’t want to miss it.”
Taber worked in Calgary for a summer once while Joan had done the Rocky Mountaineer rail tour with her parents previously.
“We love Canada and we had no reason not to come here,” said Taber. “We know there are a lot of twisty roads with not a lot of traffic. Every road I’ve seen doesn’t have as much traffic compared to some places we’ve been.”
They drove more than 4,000 kms over four days in a pickup truck carrying their pride and joy car in a trailer.
Mark Garnett was born in South Africa but moved to Surrey, England. He and his wife came to Canada for the first time for this experience.
“We try to travel as much as we can,” said Garnett. “We’ve done a lot of Europe and the opportunity aroused and we decided to do it.”
They flew into Vancouver and drove to Red Deer earlier this week, but can’t wait to see the rest of it, especially from the comfort of his own Caterham.
“You’re really low to the ground, but it gives you a real sensation of speed,” said Garnett. “You can literally throw it around the corner and it is as though it is on rails.”
Johns said the English drivers packed their cars in June and likely won’t be able to unpack them until October, mostly the whole driving season.
“The thing you see with these cars is, everywhere you go people look at them,” said Johns. “It is such an unusual vehicle.”
Denny said driving the low-to-the-ground, performance vehicles through the mountains can be a lot of fun. He has driven the mountains in Europe, where the roads are narrower with sharper curves than in Canada, which means a lot of driving in first and second gear. While the Rockies’ roads are wider by comparison and gentler, but he said they are still fun and the scenery is great.
“Everybody on the road looks out, turns their heads and at every parked car they want to take photographs,” said Denny.