It’s the first (hopefully) annual Europe (and brexiting UK) Oppomeet! And it was absolutely perfect. We met at Spa-Francorchamps, drove to the Nürburgring, ate eggs and bacon and got lost. What more could you ask? Except heated camping, of course.
We met Saturday morning at a small and picturesque place near Spa called Coo. Time to greet each other, grab a drink, and head to the track via some sweet countryside roads.
Pretty much immediately after getting to the track, we started our pace-car lap of the full circuit. Even if the Volvo pace car wasn’t pushing it, it still was an amazing experience to drive on such a mythical place, especially trying to go up Eau Rouge in the Clio! Man, that thing is steep. I was especially shocked by Blanchimont, the corner where Max Verstappen made that overtake in 2015. Eau Rouge and Pouhon are scary enough, but Blanchimont is basically a 90° corner that they take flat out at 150+ mph. Madness.
We were then treated to a guided tour of the paddock buildings and a bit of a history lesson, which, as an F1 geek, I found quite nice.
During our stay there, people had rented the track for the day (which costs €25k as our guide was keen to point out, and attracts “uninteresting millionaires”), and they were going at it quite hard with a very varied selection of cars, from a private supercar club to GT3 and Porsche Cup cars probably training for the season ahead.
We then headed back out for a bit of a group pic with all the cars. We were all blown away by the diversity of the group, but I suppose that’s Oppo for you!
We then went to Stavelot, a town near the track, to visit a museum dedicated to the history of Spa-Francorchamps which was funnily enough located in an abbey. It was filled with cool cars, and we even took time to visit a Templar Knights exhibition.
After the museum we met back in the lovely town to grab some waffles and plan our trip to the campsite.
The roads there are really cool, and of course some of us (me included), lost sight of the convoy and got a bit lost. But we all got back in the end for a quick game of Mario Kart in the bigger house we rented, which was thankfully big enough to allow us all to drink some different varieties of beer later in the evening. And bacon in the morning.
The campsite wasn’t perfect, but hey it was cheap and we didn’t travel all this way to sleep anyway.
The whole morning was dedicated to getting from Spa to the Nürburgring. Following Out, but with a ZZW30, our guide for this trip (thanks mate!) we crossed the Eiffel hills between the two tracks along some very nice roads: tight, technical, and empty enough to have some fun. Despite the walkie-talkies some the group split a couple of times, but I have to say more than 15 cars following each other in sunny Belgian and German countryside is quite the sight!
We eventually arrived to the Nürburgring, and watched the cars go by, which is an excellent way of getting scared for the following track laps, as I found out! The elevation changes are massive, and people drive fast cars very, very fast.
As we were about to go for our lap, someone crashed on track and the whole Ring closed, which is a regular thing apparently. So we took this opportunity to eat some massive German burgers, so we could have something to puke later on. And as we were getting ready again to go on track, the same thing happened again. So we waited on the dusty car park next to the entrance.
But finally, less than an hour before the official closing time for the track, it opened back and we all rushed to the cars.
What ensued will remain one of my all time favorite things to do in a car. Even in my modest 94hp Renault Clio, the Ring is extremely fun. Adrenaline immediately kicks in and along with a bit of red mists it blows all fear away. I hanged to the BRZ’s back for a while, and then let most of the faster cars of our group past. Everybody seemed to be having the time of their life! People are surprisingly patient as well, as long as you let them go on the left when you can.
Despite being the longest racetrack in the world, it all goes by very, very quickly, and soon it was time to say goodbye and go home.
The trip to Paris was quite nice in itself, especially the nearly empty derestricted Autobahn, when I hit a surprising 200kph in the Clio, and managed to cruise at a shockingly peaceful 180kph to the Luxemburg border. Then it was a quite boring 3.5 hours stretch on the much slower French Autoroute.
I then went pretty much straight to bed, smashed by two full days of Oppo adventure.
I would do it again tomorrow if I could. It was brilliant meeting you all, and the activities were some of the best things you can do in a car. Big thanks to everyone who had a part in organizing the trip, paying stuff upfront or cooking eggs and bacon!
Thanks for the leftover bacon guys, and see you next year. I don’t quite know how we are supposed to top that, but I’m sure we’ll find something...
Here’s a Flickr album with slightly more pics of the meet: