More Energy, More Passion: Life Around Club de Ultrace 2024

You’d be forgiven for thinking a show as large and impressive as Club de Ultrace 2024 would be a clinical affair with crazy levels of organisation and a straightforward ‘in-and-out’ vibe.

Soon after, however, you’d have to give yourself a reality check and remember that Ultrace is a car-based event and nothing can go perfectly to plan. That’s why I spent as much time away from the event as possible during my six nights in Poland and threw myself in the mix.

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That didn’t just mean hitting up as many restaurants, bars and clubs in the old town as possible (I promise I take my work trips very seriously). It meant spending time with the enthusiasts who’d journeyed to Poland in their various tribes, hanging out and seeing what they get up to outside the show.

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I was lucky to have tour guides in the form of Gaston, Chris, Ian and Radu for the weekend – all involved in Continental car culture in one aspect or another. Ian was a huge help in my 2022 Nürburgring 24-Hour mission.

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After being picked up from Wrocław Airport in Chris’s BMW X5 we grabbed some lunch and headed back to their hotel to see what had become of the car park. It didn’t take long to see what was lying ahead…

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To any non-Ultrace attendees staying at the Wrocław City Novotel, they probably thought the hotel was hosting its own car show.

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I thought I’d see a car park or two with some show cars dotted around, but this was frankly ridiculous. Most were running German license plates, some Austrian, but surprisingly few Polish.

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That could be attributed to car people being pack animals who like to travel in herds to keep themselves safe from predators on the move (read: German law enforcement).

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While many showgoers were content to sit and chill with their cars all weekend, cruising from car park to car park, others decided to do some driving. The owner of this Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII was one of those. Unfortunately, his front differential left the chat after a few full-force launches on sticky Yokohama Advan A052 tyres.

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No bother though. With a support network like the Lownatics around you, you’re bound to reach the right people to get you out of a pinch. I was happy to see the white Evo on display at the show a few days later.

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If you’re unfamiliar with their antics, the Lownatics are a European car collective with some of the simplest and cleanest builds. If it’s a cool JDM car or clean European stance build on fully polished Work Meisters blowing up on Instagram, it’s probably one of them.

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It’s not just show prep that goes on before Ultrace. As you might only reunite with the people you meet at the show the following year, there is always an abundance of meets around the city.

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Gaston, one of my tour guides, is fairly well known in the German Toyota scene for various JZX builds he’s had over the years and what he’s done with them. When I asked about car meets happening around the show, it didn’t take him long to assemble a bunch of JDM enthusiasts and orchestrate one of his own.

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I nearly thought I was in the UK with the number of right-hand drive cars that turned up to the (not-so) abandoned tram depot near Wrocław’s industrial district.

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Seeing the enthusiasm for Japanese imports outside of the UK was fascinating. Sure, the USA has known about them for years, but the 25-year rule aside, it’s a fairly easy ownership proposition.

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Germans have a much tougher time of it with such strict regulations in TÜV and import legislation. After a brief research stint I had to give up; my headache still lingers.

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And yet nobody at the meet was too precious about their car, nor did there seem to be any division with how modified people’s cars were or what model they were driving.

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The owners were happy hanging out and catching a vibe, with the beautiful Polish sunset slowly creeping in and the weather in full-on shorts and t-shirt mode.

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Two standouts for me were Radu and Bert’s JZX100 Toyota Chasers. Very differently styled, one static, one bagged. Radu’s arguably more stylish with its kit and polished wheels, whilst Berk’s was more of a sleeper with its subtle body and modified 1.5JZ under the hood. Can’t forget the TE37s either.

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Ultrace’s pre-public access was a completely different beast to the show on Saturday and Sunday. Thursday and Friday are set-up days, and I will take this to the grave with me: set-up days are the best part of any car show. Ever.

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There are no crowds, no stress, or ‘Have I missed the awards?’ to worry about. Just people taking their time to chat, and owners getting to admire/show off their builds to others knowing they’ve all created something worthy of display.

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My two biggest takeaways from my time in Poland around Club De Ultrace 2024? 1.) You’re practically above the law in a black, tinted BMW X5 on German plates. 2.) Car culture unites us all. Let’s not wait for big events to enjoy it together.

Mario Christou