Everybody dreams about going to Europe and driving the autobahn and the Alps, plus some of those amazing mountain passes in Italy.
Everybody dreams about going to Europe and driving the autobahn and the Alps, plus some of those amazing mountain passes in Italy. But car connoisseur Piotr Frankowski of Poland wants his country to be considered a car guy’s destination as well.
With Infinitum Classic Cars founder and owner Mariusz Ludwiniak, Frankowski plotted a tour in the countryside of Dolny Slask that’s focused on driving experience, history and sightseeing that takes you to beautiful views and a surprisingly large number of castles.
And all you do is show up; they provide the cars, the technical support, overnight accommodations — yes, including stays in castles — as well as dinners and entertainment.
If you want, you can bring your own car, with Ludwiniak and Frankowski providing theirs as back up equipment if needed. But you don’t have to own a suitable car to participate and to enjoy the tour. The Infinitum collection numbers 117 cars — and is adding more, ranging from ‘60s and ‘70s classics to ‘80s and ‘90s exotics.
The goal for each tour is to have 15-20 cars, keeping the group small while enhancing the opportunities for social contact within the group.
I took part in one of the rallies in May. I was greeted at the at the airport by a wonderful hostess and driver. Both spoke English and delivered me in a long-wheelbase 7 Series BMW to the castle of Moszna Zamek for a reception, dinner and private concert in the magnificent castle halls.
The next morning there was a briefing with Piotr noting some of the historical sites we’ll visit. There are no road books in the cars, but each is equipped with a walkie-talkie and is to follow the lead car. Don’t worry, at times that means very spirited and swift driving on some segments. And if you get separated by a red light or traffic, you just keep going with the flow and someone from the team will pick you up and lead you to the pack.
You drive three cars each day. My first was a Mercedes-Benz E500 W124, still an amazing chassis and driver’s car that certainly puts a smile on your face.
We stop for lunch at an Italian restaurant. Don’t complain — the owner is an Italian ex-pat from Brescia who used to be a racing driver and the restaurant is full of images of him racing an Alfa.
After the light lunch we head to Zabkowice Slaskie, where the first switch of cars takes place. Now I’m in a short-chassis Mercedes G63 AMG — one of only seven built! Still, I’m a little concerned because I know that on this upcoming segment we’re driving a World Rally Championship stage.
Piotr just smiles, pats me on the back and says, “We will talk about that afterward, if you can keep up with me that is…”
Needless to say, those are not the right words to tell to me! I was surprised at what the car could do on those twisty, hilly roads once you get the hang of working with the body roll of that heavy car. Still, it was a good thing that we were stopping at the end of the stage since my brakes clearly needed a rest and a cool down.
At the final switch of the day we visited a secret underground factory from the Third Reich, although I am a history buff I didn’t knew that Hitler has been building bunkers here. I figured I should stick with a single brand today so my final car was a Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC. I had always liked the looks of this big coupe, but feared that that’s just what it would turn out to be: a BIG coupe. Not true. With that huge engine up front and loads of torque, the car feels more like a smaller sports car and certainly lets you drive it that way.
Before we head to our overnight stay, we make a final stop at Swidnica, the birthplace of Mandref Freiher von Richthoffen, better known as the Red Baron of WWI fame. But the real reason for the stop is to visit the Church of Peace, a 17th century church made of wood, mud and straw. Personally I have never seen a more interesting and beautiful church then this one. Listed as an Unesco World Heritage site, it’s easy to understand why.
After a short final drive of the day we reach our hotel, which issituated next to another palace, this one partially renovated and some with side buildings in ruin. The next morning I managed to grab a car that has been on my wanted list for a very long time — a BMW 850i. As a kid seeing that car on the street it just looked amazing. Now it’s finally my chance to have a go in one and again on winding roads so I can get a good feel of the car.
As usual it’s never really enough time. Even when we arrive at a gorgeous dam for the lunch stop and first switch of cars, you lust for a longer drive. But in the afternoon it’s time to feel a bit like Tom Cruise as I slide behind the wheel of the Porsche 928 GTS. I admit, the sole reason why I want to drive this car is because of the movie Risky Business! Although this is a real driver’s car and has happily surprised me, so I wouldn’t mind driving an entire weekend in one of these.
During our final rest stop at, yes, you guessed it, another castle, we have the final switch and I’m in a Porsche 993. With more quit and twisty roads coming up, this car puts a smile on any driver’s face.
In the late afternoon we arrive at Karpniki Castle, where we will have a final dinner followed by a string quartet performance in an upper hall.
However, the next morning before our return to the airport there’s a surprise: We go down the road to the local airport where an Antonov-AN2 will take everybody up for a flight across the region and the Karkonosze Mountains.
Looking back at it, this turned out to be a great fun and wonderful weekend, not just only about having fun with some cars on great roads, but also about some sightseeing and learning some more about a European country where I had not had any pervious experience. I can only congratulate Piotr and Mariusz on such a wild adventure and would be eager to return to drive yet another group of cars.
Here’s the website if you want to experience the event for yourself.
Photography by Dirk De Jager