The Road To Wörthersee

It has been sixty hours since I left home and thirty three hours since I last slept. I’m now over a thousand miles away and a week early for a show that I won’t see because I’ll leave before it even starts. Why? Because Wörthersee of course.

Like the journey itself, the planning for this trip started out in earnest. “You should cover Wörthersee this year,” Rod mentioned. “We should drive,” Ben suggested.

As the time to leave drew closer, doubts began to creep in. “Flights are only £40 return to Austria at the moment,” Ben told me on the phone one day last week. It was too late however. We were committed. A continental journey by road awaited us.

I ran the first leg solo, like I’ve often done so many times before. Ireland to Wales by ship, then a quick (five-ish hours) sprint across the M4 into London.

My destination was somewhere we’ve just recently visited here on Speedhunters: the Milestone71 workshop just off the M25.

After all, what’s a road trip without friends?

I watched as Jay McToldridge, owner of this incredible G60 MkI Golf we featured earlier this month, gave his car a quick shakedown through the quiet industrial area. Needless to say, the quiet was dramatically shattered as the Golf attempted to put its power down on the rough surface.

Unfortunately, Jay had some teething issues running the car the previous week. Instead of risking the car on the 1000 mile drive south, he decided to play it safe and trailer it to Wörthersee where he would continue to test the car in the stunning surroundings that only Austria can provide.

Before we even had the chance to tie the Golf down, the distinct sound of a horizontally opposed engine rang out. “You’re going to like this,” Jay said to me with a smile. He was right. It has been a bit of a secret, but earlier in the year, Brian Henderson from Rotiform shipped his beloved 964 to the UK so he could experience Wörthersee the proper way. Since it was going to be here for a while before we set out, he let Richie from Milestone71 work his magic. The result is stunning.

We would also be joined by more friends of Milestone71; in a fresh Audi RS6 Avant with a Wörthersee special vinyl wrap.

Obviously, if you’re going to trailer your car over such a distance, you need to ensure that everything’s well secured.

With the last checks performed…

… and everything secured…

… it was time to hit the road.

Unfortunately, our ultimate road trip got off to a bad start by immediately getting stuck in traffic on the M25 (the ring road around London).

We kept ourselves amused with the odd bit of car culture spotting, thankfully.

After not a whole lot of time – relative to the overall journey at least – we arrived in Folkestone where we would depart the UK for mainland Europe.

I’m a complete and utter nerd, so was fascinated by my first trip on the EuroTunnel.

With the Q7 and trailer loaded onto the narrow train carriages, we would almost immediately set out on our sub-sea journey of 31.4 miles.

The journey would be dispatched in little under half an hour, but we still had some time to apply the finishing touches to Jay’s Golf.


Since we featured it, Jay has changed out the seats for a more period correct pair of Cobra Classic RSRs which tie the car together even better in my opinion.

We didn’t even get a chance to tell a story or two before we emerged out the other side of the Channel in France.

Our first call of duty was to fill the Audi with diesel before heading off on the remaining 800+miles to Austria.

At €1.37 a litre, diesel in France is a lot cheaper than the UK where it works out at around €1.83 for the same quantity.

From what I vaguely remember, it was around 10pm local time at this point.

With everyone eager, fuelled and full of enthusiasm it was almost time to set out on the longest part of the journey.

First, a committee was called to decide the route we would take south.

We had three options… Number one: Continue on down through France before cutting across into Germany and south into Austria. Number two: Head east from our current location and into Belgium before turning south into Germany, where we would spend a longer amount of time on the Autobahn. Number three: A little bit of number one and number two.

It was an easy decision in the end. The Autobahn awaited us.

Anyone who has tackled a long distance jaunt through the darkness will probably tell you the same thing…

It starts off with lots of energy and the determination to make good time.

Before long though, energy levels start to drop nearly as fast as the fuel gauges.

It’s amazing the difference ten or fifteen minutes of rest can make. Not to mention copious amounts of Belgium’s finest chocolate energy milk.

With enthusiasm returning, it was once again time to hit the road.

A quick phone call to check on the progress of friends making the same journey in front of and behind us…

… and we were once again off into the darkness.

The mundanity of a motorway in the darkness is a complete morale killer.

Not to mention the constant requirement to quench the thirst of our vehicles.

There wasn’t really much of a dawn to speak of, just a slow increase in brightness…

… resulting in new shades of grey.

At least there were things to look at now.

By 7am it was time for a quick breakfast in one of the many indistinguishable German service stations.

The language barrier can be an issue in certain parts of Europe, but lots of pointing, smiling and thumbs up usually ends up with a good result.

You can just tell what the level of car culture is like in Germany when you see advertisements for air filters in restrooms.

By this time of the morning, everyone is really starting to feel the effects of lack of sleep.

There’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves though, as we still have some serious ground to cover.

The rain just seemed to perfectly represent our mood.

Onwards we marched…

… before finally reaching the Austrian border.

Almost immediately, the landscape changed to these absolutely stunning vistas which stretched in every direction.

Rod, I think I found our new Speedhunters HQ.

With temperatures rising and the sky starting to clear, we were finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

With a second wind behind us, we charged onwards, massacring the miles.

How can views like this not inspire you?

After thirteen and a half hours of driving through continental Europe, we finally reached our destination.

You should rightly ask why we would put ourselves through so much hardship, just to see some cars before the event itself even kicks off. I’ll be honest, I asked myself the same question countless times on the journey south. I don’t think we were there ten minutes before I immediately realised why Wörthersee is so highly regarded. Unfortunately, it’s now been thirty four hours since I last slept so I’ll have to leave Ben to explain the answer to you. Actually, I think we might need more fuel first…

Paddy McGrath
Twitter: @PaddyMcGrathSH
Instagram: speedhunters_paddy

Worthersee ’11 Coverage on Speedhunters

Other posts by Paddy McGrath on Speedhunters