In what was one of Bowcliffe’s noisiest and most nostalgic events of the year – we were thrilled to welcome drivers who took part in the notorious Peking to Paris rally over 20 years ago. The reunion saw many drivers roar up in the same vintage cars they completed the grueling 11,000 mile challenge in.
The event was organised by Jonathan Turner, Bowcliffe’s CEO and, perhaps more importantly, one of the drivers who completed the 45-day Peking to Paris journey in his 1929 4.5 litre Bentley with fellow driver, Adam Hartley from Shadwell. The event was hugely well-attended, with the 100 plus drivers converging at Bowcliffe from as far afield as Australia, Canada, America and Europe.
The Peking to Paris rally itself was held to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the world’s first international motor rally in 1907, when Prince Borghese encouraged a few pioneer motorists to race half way around the globe to prove to the world that the motorcar was an alternative form of transport to the train. Now some of the route is dangerously impassible, such as parts of Pakistan that are now a Taliban stronghold. Even when the rally took place, it was not entirely safe, with some entrants faced with guns and tanks along the way.
Commenting on his memories of the rally and the reunion, Jonathan said:
“The rally dramatically changed my life. To have the opportunity to travel across so many glorious countries and continents in a vintage car and meet fellow adventurers from around the world was a big game changer for me. The highlight was the Himalayas and camping whilst looking at Everest. That thought still brings tears to my eyes.”
“This is the first time we’ve these people have got back together – but an adventure like that binds you together. I’ve been staggered by how many people turned up and how far they’ve travelled – but an adventure like that binds you together. This was the first time that most of the drivers had met up for two decades so there was a lot of catching up to do!”
Guests were able to appreciate many of the spectacular spaces the Estate has to offer, including parking up their beautiful vintage cars on the pristine lawns before enjoying drinks and delicious oriental finger food in the soaring Blackburn Wing. Later in the afternoon, event guests relaxed and caught up in the Drivers’ Club and Briefing Room, before a show-stopping meal in the decadent Ballroom.