The Blue Train Challenge 2017
18 - 22 September, 2017
The Blue Train Challenge
The Blue Train Challenge is an all new, five-day, Endurance Rally Association event from the same thoroughbred stable as the highly successful Flying Scotsman and Alpine Trial. Designed from the ground up for enthusiasts with pre-1948 vintage cars, the Blue Train will re-capture that nostalgic age when pioneering motorists set out to beat the famous Train Bleu on its journey across France from the English Channel to the Cote d’Azur.
In a contrast with the ERA's longer events, the Blue Train Challenge will fit comfortably within a week, making it affordable in both time and costs, without diluting the enjoyment and sense of achievement. Driving a vintage car across the length and breadth of France is still a challenging undertaking and one to savour. The route will be competitive without becoming too demanding for Vintageant cars. The daily schedules will provide plenty of time to enjoy the experience, and soak up the atmosphere at carefully chosen coffee breaks, lunches and overnight halts.
The event doesn’t totally follow the original tracks of the Blue Train but we pay homage to that pioneering age with a journey through the most beautiful and spectacular landscapes in France. Along the way competitive action will be provided by Regularity and Time Control Sections - navigated by way of simple tulip instructions and marked maps - plus Special Tests to raise a head of steam.
From the start in the elegant resort of Deauville, the Blue Train Challenge explores the quiet country lanes that criss-cross the rolling Normandy countryside before reaching the fine Chateaux and grand Royal Hunting Forests of the Loire. Turning east across the rural centre of France we climb gradually into the vine-clad hills of Burgundy before heading south, re-tracing the Blue Train routes of old down the valleys of the Saone and Rhone.
The pace picks up once the event reaches the classic rally roads of the Ardeche and Drome, culminating in a climb of the mighty Mont Ventoux with dramatic views stretching to the Alps. The final sections traversing Provence are a delight; sun kissed hills, sleepy stone villages and lavender fields lead into the dramatic gorges, turquoise lakes, and lofty mountains of the Alpes de Haute-Provence. All these combine to make a fitting finale before reaching the sparkling Mediterranean and a ceremonial finish on the famous Croisette in Cannes.
In an age before autoroutes and budget air travel, Le Train Bleu, the luxury overnight express from Calais to the Mediterranean, epitomised the civilized way for travellers to exchange the gloom of the British winter for the glamour and sunshine of the French Riviera. This combination of luxury train travel and the Golden Age of continental motoring was the period that gave birth to the ‘Blue Train Races’ when a number of motoring pioneers raced the train on its journey across France.
The most famous of the Blue Train races was the record breaking drive by Bentley Chairman and Le Mans winner, Wolf Barnato, in March 1930. However, the first bids to outpace the train were actually made by Dudley Noble in a Rover Light Six, just two months earlier. Noble was thwarted on his first attempt, but a few days later he tried again and beat the famous train by 20 minutes! It is these heroic drives by Noble and Barnato that the Endurance Rally Association celebrates in this week long motoring adventure in September 2017.
Express your interest
Potential participants can be assured that The Blue Train Challenge will be carefully planned to be suitable for the specific needs of driving a pre-war vintage car, and organised with the same attention to detail that the experienced ERA team have used to bring you the very best in vintage and classic rallying for the past 25 years.
The Deauville start is conveniently situated for cross-channel ferries from the UK and is an easy drive from other European countries. If time or inclination preclude you driving home, one of our car transport partners will be able to help or perhaps it may be possible to return home by Motorail from Nice. The entry fee includes six nights in the best hotels available, all meals including the Gala Prizegiving, Rally Plates, Routebooks, Awards, and the services of the experienced ERA Team including mechanical back-up, doctors and marshals.
To find out more please call Annette, Eleonora or any of the Rally Office team or email us for your copy of the event brochure and entry form. We'll be happy to answer your questions and offer any guidance you may need.
Phone: +44 (0)1235 831221
Yes, it was a challenging event, but as always the organization was superb. We really enjoyed ourselves.
Well done to all of you at Endurance Rally Association!
Jan Woien - 1935 Alvis Speed 20 - 2016 Flying Scotsman competitor