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With the Dolomite engine in the Dolomites

by Patrick Vogt

This year started as the last had said goodbye. In many European countries, the governments ordered a lockdown and restricted the freedom of movement of its citizens. The capital cities did not believe in the responsibility of the taxpayers. Switzerland was no exception, but we could always take our Sevens for a drive at any time, at least within the Swiss national borders. And that brought advantages too, because the streets would be free from Dutch mobile homes, Sunday excursionists or family cars. But global warming thwarted all of us, because cold, snow and ice also ensured an icy lockdown of the Seven community in 2021 until the beginning of summer.

Even on the weekend of June 13th, the most beautiful mountain roads in the northern Alps had not yet been cleared of snow, and that meant that I didn't peel my Lotus Seven out of winter storage until the beginning of the month, this is as late as it’s ever been.

Reto had long called for the “Dolomiten Classic” meeting between June 11 and 14, and 13 drivers and a total of 17 people had registered for it. A must for my Dolomite engine Lotus 7, of course. Actually, the route would have led first over the Vorarlberg Silvretta Hochalpenstrasse. That was the mountain road on which I hit my Seven on the rock face in 1991 when I first overtook two turbo Westfields on a night hill climb, but then expected a left turn, which turned out to be a right turn. But Silvretta was still in hibernation, which is why we arranged to meet on Friday on the Wolfgang Pass above Davos. Some had already started on Thursday and stayed at the hotel there. Other people who registered had a corona panic, and that is why only 11 Sevens with a total of 13 people ordered coffee with croissants at Davos in the end.

In the meantime, a summer high had settled over the entire Alps, and we were soon able to put hats, gloves and fur coats in our huge trunk. The mountain called and we started the engines. From Davos the route took us over the Flüela Pass into the Engadin, and then straight over the Ofen Pass and the Swiss nature park into Val Müstair. The Furnace pass got its name not from the warm south winds, but from the melting furnaces that were operated there until the late Middle Ages. Immediately after the Benedictine convent of St. Johann near Santa Maria, we crossed the border into Italy without any difficulties or controls. Memories are still clinging to the monastery. The house was a donation from Charlemagne, who ruled Europe in the 8th century. I was once a guest there for a week to tame my respectable weight with cloister food in the sense of a fasting cure. The food consisted of tea and hot water. With a sour face I shifted down a gear and opened the throttle valve.

The subsequent South Tyrolean Vinschgau, once part of the Rhaetian three leagues, opened its wide view. A true paradise for wine lovers, but friends of fine beers will also get their money's worth at Schloss Forst; As you drive by, the scents waft into your nose, similar to the experience of driving past Scottish distilleries. Unfortunately, the Vinschgau only has one boring road, which is why all the traffic was there; Creeping was the order of the day, at least as far as the “Bozen Nord” exit. From then on arches followed arches, framed by high mountains, which culminate in the typical, furrowed Dolomite teeth, and contrasted with the steel-blue sky, would accompany us until Monday.

In the late afternoon of June 11th we reached our Hotel Urthaler, a nice Hotel with 5 stars and outstanding culinary skills. The last section of the access road leads over the Alpe di Siusi and is considered private, which is why some people left black souvenirs of their tires there. After the daily bath in the heated swimming pool, we were invited by the "skinny Urthalerin", as the writer likes to call her, for an aperitif with bubbly and canapés.

“Stadler Travel” held its 30th Seven Meeting this year. The following days took us up and down hot streets, left and right. Of course, bike races took place on some passes at the same time, but between bike, truck or Sunday drivers it was still a few millimeters between Porsche drivers or motorbike boys in the ranking with 8,000 RPM and precision. It would be a little pointless to list every gear change, every drift or every overtaking maneuver beyond what is permitted, and some of the beautiful South Tyrol only saw the median or impressive hairpins anyway. Well, every now and then the rear of the vehicle appeared, but only for a fraction of a second. In between we let engines and throats cool down a bit and looked for inns here or there in the shade, which enticed with fascinating menus.

But then it went "bang" and Monday had dawned. The sun cream was already gone, and it was time to return to Switzerland. Via Meran and Schlanders we went up the Reschenpass to enjoy the South Tyrolean cuisine again in the town of the same name. There were still frictions at the border with Austria. Not because of the control, but because the exit was marked so “Austrian” that the customs officer could only point us in the right direction with the shout of a sergeant. We left like a horde of howling and barking hellhounds. But after a few kilometers we crossed the border to the Swiss Confederation at Martina, and experienced the rustic Lower Engadine with its larch forests and the river Inn, which gurgled in the valley floor and provided a welcome, cool breeze. At Susch we went uphill for the last time over the Flüela Pass to say goodbye to the participants at the Alpenrose restaurant shortly before Davos. Then the Seveners thundered up and away in all directions. Without any mishaps it was possible to finally do what we love to do again after a long and dark virus time. Press the accelerator to the stop and bask in the unconditional sun while enjoying culinary delights.



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