HUGE PASSION IN A SMALL ISLAND
YOU MIGHT NEVER THINK THAT A TINY PLACE LIKE MALTA CAN HOLD SUCH A VIBRANT CAR LIFE
Experiencing the craziness of the Maltese traffic from the airport to the hotel, seeing all the old and rusty Land Rovers on the streets with their Toyota diesel engines, the smashed and badly repaired Morris Marinas, and some never seen, still running cubic Japanese cars from the eighties would make the visitor think that the island is a strange cemetery for cars, especially for classic ones, as Cuba is.
And then spending only a few minutes at the start line of Malta Classic's hillclimb, all of us can notice, reality can't be further off our expectations. Due to the country was under suzerainty of the United Kingdom for many decades, the scene is mostly filled with British classics. And because of being geographically close, with Italians too.
There are no racetracks in the island and it's really challenging to find a decent quality road to hold a race like this, but actually there was one in the north of Malta, at the outskirts of Mellieha. The race should have begun few hours after midday, but the first racer set off at late afternoon. As a nice British lady said in the crowd, this is Malta, don't be surprised.
When it comes to a hillclimb with old cars, and the race is about to make two laps with the closest time possible, you might think that speed is irrelevant. But you would be wrong again, because these guys love to take the whole nine yards when they have a closed road for them. Just imagine the magnificent sound of a Ferrari V12 echoing in the valley...
The next day was about visual beauty instead of noises and smells, because the concours d'elegance was held in the front of St. Paul's cathedral, Mdina. The old castle - which is the main setting for King's Landing - gave a gorgeous atmosphere to the assembled cars and also made it hard for the spectators to admire the old machinery, because of the bunch of Japanese tourists visiting and photographing every single detail.
Malta Classic was emerged from the combination of the Valletta Classic Car Show island's premier car race, Mdina Grand Prix. This is why the most important part of the event was the two-day GP down the walls of the historic city. The track made by four straights offered high speeds and a huge difficulty for overtaking. But these guys weren't afraid about anything that didn't seem easy, they pushed the pedal to the metal, and sometimes they turned their cars to their tops. There were a few crashes and some near misses in the narrow track, but some duct tape and a spray can helped to repair them for the next race.
Not only the track, but the paddock also was placed in an uncommon spot, down in the castle's moat. Being in Malta, the racers didn't really care about where their prescribed positions were, they just parked the cars wherever they wanted.
Sitting on the plane back home I had one conclusion: Malta is very different in every single way imaginable. It's unique atmosphere, the clear water, the beige colour covering the whole island, and the lovely little, but more precious classic car life they have makes the country definitely worth the visit. Just pick your calendars and wait for the announcement of next year's Malta Classic. Then book the ticket, you won't regret any single moment of your stay!