Vintage cars out for 2009 Retro Prague rally

Photo: CTK

The 2009 Retro Prague rally of vintage automobiles set out Thursday on the occasion of its 10th anniversary jubilee. The first leg was just the thing for romantic old-timers: a night-time drive around Prague’s historic centre in which almost five dozen vehicles took part, some of which were truly ancient. Today I spoke with the rally’s organiser, Ladislav Pakosta, who is in Příbram awaiting the arrival of the next leg, which will be crawling into town at 20-40 kph.

Photo: CTK
We are now waiting for the cars on the Příbram main square. They should be here in about half an hour. So we have a starting list of about 57 cars with production years of up to 1970.

Are there any real rarities among the cars?

Yes, there is a unique Rolls Royce which is very old, and there is also one American Cord.

And how old are the oldest cars in the rally?

1909. It’s an R.A.F brand. It doesn’t exist anymore, this company.

You’ve been holding this event for ten years now…

Photo: CTK
Yes, this is the 10-year anniversary of this rally - if we can call it a rally, because it is not a rally for speed it’s a rally for regulated time.

Can you explain that a bit?

It means that the car has a starting time at the start point. And before that the crew is able to choose an average speed. Let’s say a crew chooses a speed of 20 kph, they must calculate their time from the starting point to the finish point. If they get there earlier they will receive penalty points. And if they come later, same thing. But they will get more penalty points for going fast and getting there early than they would for coming late. The winner is the one with the least penalty points.

And what does the winner receive?

The winner receives the cup for their category and some small souvenirs and such things. No money! Just the Cup for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.

Photo: CTK
Since you’ve been organising this for ten years now, I’d say you must have a strong fan base; do you feel there are a lot of vintage car enthusiasts in the Czech Republic.

Yes I think it’s slowly starting to be the case in this country that people are very happy to see the cars, but you know our event is the only one in the Czech Republic of level A – which is the top – and there are only 22 such rallies in the world this year. So we are one of those 22, but the only one in the Czech Republic.

How do the contestants break down by nationality, do you have a lot of foreigners?

No, no, no. The majority are Czech crews, and we have 5 crews from other countries here.

Do any of the cars ever break down during the rally?

Up to now, one car had some technical problems. It meant it didn’t make the finish line. So probably instead of 57 we will only see 56 cars here in Příbram today.

And the one that broke down was what kind of car?

It was a Fiat, an old Fiat from 1922.