The Bugatti Owner’s Club (BOC) chose Ireland as the location for its annual international meeting this year, and almost 100 cars from all over the world spent the last week touring the Wild Atlantic Way.
The cars, manufactured by the legendary French firm, were all manufactured before 1950, and according to Irish organisers the cheapest car was valued at just under €500,000.
Each year the BOC organises an international meeting were club members spend a week on location, and the daytime road trips are followed by a packed evening social calendar.
The club arrived in Killarney on Tuesday last and left on Monday this week after block booking the exclusive Dunloe Hotel & Gardens near Beaufort.
A packed itinerary meant the visitors got a chance to drive some of the best driving roads in Kerry and Cork, including stints on Slea Head, Conor Pass, the Healy Pass and the Ring of Kerry.
Members of Killarney and District Motor Club were on hand to marshal the route and to organise things on this side.
BOC members Alex and Brenda Hobbs are no strangers to Killarney. They were members of the Oxford University Motor Club team of travelling doctors who used to supply medical cover for the Rally of the Lakes – a tradition that dates back to 1980.
They approached Mike Marshall, the first ever Rally of the Lakes Clerk of the Course, and he set about creating a route and organising local motoring based activities for the international crews.
“This is a one off event for Killarney,” Mike told the Killarney Advertiser. “The club was in Switzerland last year and will be going to Belgium next year. This international meeting is pre-planned until 2025.”
The 40 year friendship between the Killarney man and the UK-based doctors was a key part in Killarney securing this prestigious event.
Mike visited an event at the Prescott Hillclimb venue, home of BOC, near Cheltenham about two years ago.
“This was two years in the making,” added Mike. “I met Alex and Brenda on a visit to Prescott and it was suggested at that time to find roads in Ireland suitable for this event.”
Mike recruited several other Killarney and District Motor Club members and local classic car enthusiasts to help pull off an incredible week-long motoring extravaganza.
They included Darren McCormick, Historic Rally Clerk of the Course, and classic motorsport competitor Mike Buckley, who went ahead of the convoy and erected directional arrows.
KDMC Club Safety Officer, Pat Healy, followed the cars in a recovery unit while Sean Hurley (Glengarriff) and Paul O’Shea (Killarney) helped on a more localised basis.
Local Bugatti enthusiast Mervyn Scott was also involved.
“I met Mervyn by accident one day on a train to Dublin,” Mike said. “We started to talk about Bugattis and he said he just had to be involved.”
Participants arrived from all over the world for the event, including two cars from Japan and one from French Polynesia. The majority came from France, Switzerland, Italy, Holland and USA.
“They loved the mountain roads like the Healy Pass and the Conor Pass. And almost every day we met other clubs, like a Porsche club from Germany and an Austin Healy club from Britain, who were out following much the same route as us.”
The last point is something Mike would like to explore further.
“There is no end to the amount of car clubs out there, especially in England,” he said. “There are over 40 hotels in Killarney, one to suit very budget, and we have the best driving roads in Europe. We have the product: The Wild Atlantic Way.”