It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – mainly though it was the best of times. This was a very special year for Scumrun as the annual charity event that takes old bangers onto the continent hit its 10th year. The basic rules are that the car has to cost no more than £500 to buy and you have to raise at least £500 for the year’s nominated charity. In return you get to take your car from campsite to campsite across Europe, only finding out your day’s destination at each morning’s briefing. This year we covered 2400 miles in 4 ½ days, motoring down to Monaco and back up to the Nurburgring before the dash home to Blighty.
Most teams have a fancy dress theme which includes the vehicle, thus a fully pimped up Lexus inhabited by sleazy 1970’s film stars can be seen next to a hearse replete with pallbearers or a Volvo estate masquerading as the Titanic. Although the field mainly consists of the ropey old Jaguars, BMWs and people carriers that you may expect there is also the scope for using a classic. We generally ran in the company of a 2 litre Capri whilst a spectacular Baja Beetle won the “Best Modified Car” trophy and another Beetle modified as Noddy’s car helped its team win the “Best Dressed” award. Such cars tend to come in on price by being bought years ago when cheap, or by buying the worst example possible and committing to the long nights in making it roadworthy.
“Banshee” (my modified Chevette and weapon of choice for this and previous Scumruns) hit the road after a major re-fit one week before the kick-off on May 14th at the magnificent Dover Cruise Terminal. Another team only got their car MoT-ed in Derbyshire at 5:30 the night before while The Outlaws, a team dressed as Native Americans, fared even worse by setting a new record through totalling their 5 Series BMW on a slippery roundabout a mere 20 minutes after landing in Europe. In true Scumrun style though they’d organised a replacement hire car even before “les Flics” had turned up to offer their condolences.
The first day and a half was written off to cautious driving through deluges along motorways hampered by that peculiarly European phenomenon of engineering roads to instantly become sheets of standing water. It was at this point whilst wet and miserable that I’d wondered if taking part had been a huge mistake, however as we left the main roads at Grenoble and started to climb through the French Alps the weather gradually cleared. A late night run over the mountains along twisty roads with vertiginous drops indicated by small clusters of street lights far below had us in a much better frame of mind by the time my co-driver, Mr Bridge-Butler, and I pitched our tents at Cannes. Thankfully the next day saw clear blue skies for the drop down into Monaco where the procession of bizarre cars making their way around the Principality amongst the Ferraris and Maseratis distracted from the preparations for the following week’s Grand Prix. Conditions remained perfect as we immediately followed this with storming the legendary Col du Turini. The hysterical experience of returning back down the famously sinuous road as fast as we dared behind the Capri with about 25 Porsche 944s (taking part in a local owner’s club tour) on our tail became my personal highlight of the event.
Motoring north towards the overnight stop at Zurich we lost touch with our fellow Scumrunners and it became obvious that another late night beckoned. A couple of comfy hotel rooms short of our target would, we decided, be an acceptable alternative. Jerry suggested trying Andermatt as lodgings in this Alpine resort are cheap and easy to find out of season, plus there is the minor fact that it sits at the start of the spectacular Oberalp Pass. We booked in at the almost deserted Hotel Monopol-Metropol on a whim but lady fortune was obviously with us as we discovered that the owner is a world champion mixologist. A later night than intended, working our way steadily and then unsteadily through wondrous colourful concoctions did not lessen the experience of one of the finest driving roads over the Alps the following morning.
For many entrants though it’s not all about the driving, the parties in the evenings tending to be equally heroic. One Manchester lad at the Nurburgring, whose shambling gait as he passed me threatened catastrophe with every shuffled step, impressed by remaining upright until out of view. His father later found him asleep under a bush in an entirely different part of the campsite to where he should have been. Such excesses are balanced by a responsible approach to the days’ driving with the supply of free breathalyser checks by the organisers and most teams having a rota of designated drivers.
This all pales to insignificance when you consider that £126,000 was raised this year, all of it going to JDRF the type 1 diabetes charity. Through this single event a research project into eliminating type 1 diabetes has been funded for a year. More than that, the total raised by Scumrun for all the various charities now stands at round £3/4 million. To my mind that’s rather a noble achievement.