Dozens of vintage cars embark on “Thousand Miles of Czechoslovakia” race
More than a hundred vintage cars embarked from the centre of Prague on early Thursday morning on a three-day journey to the Slovak capital Bratislava and back. The “Thousand Miles of Czechoslovakia” tour, which dates back to 1933, is organised by the Veteran Car Club in Prague and covers some 1,300 kilometres.
Dozens of people gathered outside the Veteran Car Club headquarters in Prague’s Opletalova Street on Thursday morning to watch the start of the “Thousand Miles of Czechoslovakia” race.
Some 120 cars, all of them made before the year 1939, are taking part in this year’s event, including two models that rode in its very first edition in 1933, the Aero Supersport and a Praga Alfa.
Jan Tojbl, owner of a vintage Aerovka made in the Czechoslovak First Republic, was one of the participants:
“Our primary goal was to reach the starting line, which we managed. Now we have to get to Bratislava. The maximum speed the car goes uphill is 20 kilometres per hour. The safest speed is 60 kilometres, but you cannot go that fast for a very long time.”
Inspired by a similarly named Italian event, the Mille Miglia, the “Thousand Miles of Czechoslovakia” first took place in 1933, when organised by the Autoclub of the Czechoslovak Republic.
Even though the event was declared a “competition”, it was in fact a speed race that took place in normal traffic. The participants, who had to cover nearly 1,600-kilometres, were confronted with horse-drawn wagons, trucks, cyclists, and pedestrians.
The original route of the race led from Prague to the Czech towns of Kolín, Jihlava, Brno and Břeclav, then to Bratislava in Slovakia, and back. The current version is slightly shorter than the original, says its organiser, Miroslav Krejsa:
“The route follows, where possible, the original route. But in the interwar years, they used to go from Prague to Bratislava and back – twice – which made 1,000 miles.
“We will be covering a little more than half the original route. The first stage leads to Bratislava. Tomorrow, we’ll be taking part in an uphill race in Slovakia and on Saturday we are heading back. So, it will be around 1,300 kilometres.”
The first participant in the “Thousand Miles of Czechoslovakia” embarked on the journey at 6am sharp, while the other followed with a one-minute interval. Mr Krejsa explained to Czech Radio why they had to leave Prague so early:
“The start takes almost two hours in total, so we wouldn’t make it otherwise. This way, the first half of the weaker cars have a relatively free roads through Prague. If we started at eight, we would never make it to Bratislava.”
The vintage cars are expected to return from Bratislava to Prague’s National Technical Museum on late Saturday afternoon.