Back in the mid 1970’s , I was living in England and every year until I emigrated to Canada in 1994, you’d find me travelling to Holland to watch Dutch stock car racing. The Baarlo track was a regular destination
Over the years I made many long time friends and have a lot of fond memories,
Due to family commitments in the UK and USA (and the cost) , I’ve never been able to return,
I happened to mention this to my daughter Carla, who’s also got fond memories from childhood holidays spent there . She made her first visit to the races there , when less than one year old.
Well a big thank you to my wonderful and caring daughter for organizing our trip back .
She did a marvelous job .
Here’s a day by day account
Thursday 12th of May .
I drove my Chev Impala to Montreal Airport, parked it in the Park N Fly , and then took the 10-30 pm , Air Transat flight to Amsterdam.
Friday 13th of May.
My flight from Montreal landed at the Schiphol Airport at 11-25 am . Carla , her husband Alex and my Grand Children Benjamin and Sophia had arrived from the JFK Airport in New York about an hour earlier and I met up with them at the baggage reclaim. It worked out perfect.
We picked up the rental car and were ready to set off.
It turned out to be a bit cramped for three adults and two kids , We’d ordered an S.U.V and the largest thing available was a Volvo wagon.
Carla and Alex were doing the driving on this trip and all I had to do was sit back and relax.
Our destination was the camp site De Berckt in Baarlo (now called the Oostappen Vakantiepark.) where we stayed on holiday vacations in the past.
It’s located right next to the site of the now defunct Auto Speedway.
We had a lot of fun here over 30 years ago.
FLASHBACK to 1988
Instead of sleeping in our own caravan, this time we’d rented a cabin for two nights.
The weather was warm and sunny and we arrived mid-afternoon.
There is plenty to do there, so we chilled out in the bar as the kids played .
In the evening I’d arranged to meet up with Mat Gulikers, who is the owner of the Dutch Stock Car Museum in Maastricht.
He got permission from the caretaker, for us to enter the grounds of the old speedway and get some pictures.
Thanks Mat for taking the trouble to drive to Baarlo and meet me.
Saturday 14th May
I stayed there until about 1-00 pm , before leaving them to carry on enjoying themselves while I went racing for a few hours.
After the long one kilometer paved oval track closed in the mid 1990’s, a smaller dirt oval has emerged, about two miles away in Soeterbeek.
It is run by BACO , a race team that use the event to raise funds.
Racing is only held there one weekend a year and that’s where I was heading.
Carla dropped me off at pedestrian and cyclist entrance and we arranged for her to pick me up later.
The main event was for four cylinder auto-cross cars, but I was there to see the Dutch Heritage F1 stock Cars that were also on the program.
The first person I met was Harald Bartels, a BACO official at the main entrance .
He made a quick phone call to my friend Robert Wilms , and it wasn’t long before he and Wendy Van Lier were there to meet me.
Robert is a race track photographer who sorted out my credentials to take pictures on the center. Robert lives in Baarlo and I’ve known him for a long time.
I once helped him out with some photos for a project he was doing about the history of the old track.
The three of us wandered the pits and chatted with a few of the Heritage F1 Stock Car drivers.
Bert De Vries was there driving his fathers old car.
I also chatted with Ron Christis, who was driving a replica , he’d built of a Lambert Keulen car.
Next up, was former king of the defunct Baarlo Long Track, Rien Rutjens.
I first saw Rien race back in 1977, on my first visit to Baarlo. He’s now 72 years old .
We had a long chat about old times and while we were chatting, Wendy took some pictures for me.
It was nice to see this replica of the 1978 Frans Meuwissen car.
Once the racing began,, we watched the first race for the Auto-Cross cars from the spectator area before I moved to the middle for the Heritage cars.
By now, time was getting on , and I began to make my exit to where Carla was due to pick me up at 6-30 pm.
Once back in the Volvo, we drove the short distance to Baarlo Centrum for a patio supper.
Sunday 15th of May
On Sunday morning we were on the move again. We were leaving the Baarlo Campsite in the province of Limburg and heading into Germany.
Baarlo is only a few miles from Venlo, which is the frontier between the Netherlands and Germany .
Just as we crossed the border , we passed the site of the old Kaldenkirchen Speedway, a track that I visited in 1979.
It’s since been lost to industrial developement
Cologne is only about an hour away and we had accommodation booked at the Marriot Hotel in the city center.
This was a great experience which the grandkids loved.
We had a light lunch beside the River Rhine before heading on to our Hotel.
To complete our day we had an early evening river cruise followed by a look at the Dom, the cities famous cathedral.
Monday 16th of May
This was a day of travelling, as we headed from Cologne in Germany to Friesland in the north of the Netherlands.
Our destination was Sneek , where we planned to meet up with our long time Friends , the Boschma family.
On the drive up , we passed by the city of Apeldoorn where we stopped for a SUBWAY lunch (Yes, the same SUBWAY sandwhich chain we have in North America is in Europe too)
While we were there we visited the local JAMIN candy store which used to be one Carlas favorite stores when she was a kid. She wanted Benji and Sophia to enjoy the experience .
After this we were back on the road again , heading for Sneek.
Our destination was Uitwellingerga, a small village by the water-side.
We had an AIR B&B booked for two days , beside the harbour. We arrived there at 5-30 pm
Tuesday 16th of May
Before I start talking about Tuesday, we must turn the clock back to August 1986 .
Me and my family were on a two week camping holiday in the Netherlands , and had three race tracks on our schedule.
First was Blauwhuis in Friesland, then Lelystad in Flevoland and on our final weekend we would be in Limburg for the F1 Long Track Final at Baarlo.
While at Blauwhuis we got talking, with Willem Boschma who was one of the top drivers.
We met up again at Baarlo a week later .
He’d been invited to race in the F1 World Final at Coventry in England in September and we offered to give him accommodation at our house in Cosgrove , Northamptonshire.
From then on, until I emigrated to Canada in 1994 our families became close friends, and we would visit each other frequently.
We briefly saw each other again when we were back in the UK for the 2013 BriSCA F1 World Final at Kings Lynn
So after more than 30 years Carla and I, were returning to Friesland for a reunion.
Willem and his wife Anne , have three daughters, Elsje the oldest and the two twins, Marja and Nelly. It was the girls that were organizing our reunion.
The plan was to meet at Marja’s house in Sneek at 10-00 am in the morning.
On arrival Elsje was outside to greet us with her 50 year old 428 cu Ford Grand Torino Wagon.
Willem and me then took off for an hour , to look at the nearby Blauwhuis track where we all met 36 years ago.
The Volvo, the Gran Torino and Marja’s Mazda 3 ,
Guess which car I opted to go in ? LOL no contest !
We drove out to the Afluitsdijk, which is the road through the sea, that seperates Lake Ijsselmeer.
It’s close to the beach so the kids enjoyed an afternoon at Sybrandy’s Speelpark while the guys sat with a beer and looked on.
From here we all returned to our various ‘homes’ to get ready for an evening supper that the girls had arranged.
Our reunion supper was held at the De Kajuit restaurant in Sneek by the marina.
We were all there except Nelly and Jetze, who couldn’t attend. They had some sad news of Jetze’s brother passing away just a few hours earlier.
The supper was excellent, and I really enjoyed my schnitzel .
This was a lovely way to end our day and to say our good-byes , until the next time.
A BIG THANKYOU TO THE BOSCHMA SISTERS FOR MAKING IT SUCH A MEMORABLE DAY
Wednesday 17th of May
Wednesday morning we were on the road again early and left our AIR B&B near Sneek in the direction of The Hague.
Todays agenda was Alex’s choice.
We were going to visit the Madurodam.
It’s a park that has models of towns and cities in the Netherlands. I would guess they are built about 1/24 scale.
I’d heard of this place before but never got round to visiting it. It is very impressive and I’m glad we went. The models are very well made and accurate and I recognised some of the places I’ve visited.
One such place was the Alkmaar Cheese Market that I went to in 1990. There was a lot to see and we spent quite some time there.
From the Madurodam we set off for Rotterdam to check out a Food Court Alex had read about.
It was a huge building with food from all over the world.
I digress, The last time I was in Rotterdam was back in 1981 , when the haulage company , I was working for, (S J Edwards of Leighton Buzzard), gave me a container to drop at the Amsterdam docks.
I remember it well, as it was the day of the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana. While I was waiting for the return ferry, I parked up my FIAT truck in Rotterdam and watched it live on TV from London in a nearby Cafe.
When we were done eating at the food court it was time to head to our accommodation for my last two nights.
We were staying at the Radison Hotel in Amsterdam close to the Sloterdijk Rail Station.
Thursday 18th of May
Thursday was my last full day of the trip , Alex was returning to the USA a day later while Carla and the kids would be flying to the UK to see her mother.
So this day was reserved for seeing some of the sites of Amsterdam.
We took the short train ride from the Sloterwijk Rail Station to Amsterdam Central .
From here we went to see the Anne Frank House that was made famous during World War 2 .
Along the way we passed a few places with red lights, where the ladies were sitting there offering their services, but thought I’d better not take pictures.
Almost next to the Anne Frank house was the Westerkirk Church which she referred to in her diaries while in hiding from the nazis.
We had a look around there after having lunch at a nearby pancake house.
From here we took a look at the Rijks Museum from the outside, where there was a kids playground to keep Benji and Sophie occupied .
Then the first bit of rain started falling after a week of beautiful sunny weather.
I’m no good at taking long walks these days so I offered to take the kids back to the Hotel while Carla and Alex did a bit more exploring of the city.
An Uber was called and the three of us returned to the Radison.
When Carla and Alex returned , I was waiting to get a picture from my 7th floor room .
We were hoping to all go out for a nice meal on my last night, but there was nothing much open locally, so ended up snacking on fast food from the station.
Friday 19th of May
At 9-00 am we took the drive from the Hotel to drop me off at the Airport.
My flight wasn’t until 1-10 pm , but these days you need to be there extra early .
My Air Transat took off on time and I landed in Montreal , at 2-30 pm Eastern Time. ( there is a six hour time difference) .
The Park N Fly shuttle was sitting there waiting and before long my Impala was heading back to Cornwall.
After a stop for a Tim Hortons in Dorion I was home before 5-30 pm to so end a never to be forgotten holiday.
THANK YOU CARLA for doing all the planning and being my chauffeur .