Horst and Renate Breuckmann borrowed a Z1 BMW from a friend for their tour with the BMW Vintage and Classic Car Club of America

Horst and Renate Breuckmann borrowed a Z1 BMW from a friend for their tour with the BMW Vintage and Classic Car Club of America

International car enthusiasts brake for Smithers

The BMW Vintage and Classic Car Club of America rally through Smithers was a roaring success, organizers say.

The BMW Vintage and Classic Car Club of America rally through Smithers was a roaring success, organizers say.

In fact, Smithers is the only community to roll out the red carpet, so to speak, for the 58 people travelling in 27 cars who are touring through B.C. and Alberta on the third major rally the club has organized since President Goetz Pfafflin took over in 2003.

The 2011 route follows a 2003 rally through the Eastern United States and a 2008 drive through Northern California.

Typically, Pfafflin said, routes are chosen for both their scenery and their location — rarely would a rally rely on a major thoroughfare for transport as the idea is to take their time and enjoy the trip, not recreate the German Autobahn.

“We like to stop and smell the roses,” Pfafflin said.

While their romp from Prince Rupert through to Prince George (from there they’re off to Jasper before heading south to Banff and back to Vancouver) has been overcast, what they have seen has been fantastic, he said.

Matthias and Monika Lehmann, who brought their BMW Z8 all the way from Switzerland, agree. They couple decided to take part in the rally to see this part of Canada and to speak with other people. The welcome, they added, has been great.

The rally also brought German couple Horst and Renate Breuckmann, who borrowed a BMW model Z1 from a friend, identical to their own car in their hometown of Munich.

The Z1, Horst noted, was only in production from 1989 to 1991, with only 8,000 in production. Just 230 of these were blue, he said.  He’s often asked where his doors are, he added, as instead of swinging out these doors slide into the chassis, creating a “door-less” look.

“I’ve met a lot of people,” Horst said. “We like the Canadians, they’re very open to the guests.”

The visitors, who also hailed from Britain, Holland and the U.S., arrived in town on July 14, to spend some time (and stay overnight) learning of Smithers before showcasing their BMW (and two Bristol’s) along Main Street.

From what he’s heard, organizer and B.V. Museum Director Fergus Tomlin said most drivers had a spectacular visit.

“It was an incredible success, the rally drivers were over the moon about Smithers, they couldn’t believe the warmth of the reception they received here,” Tomlin said. “I think just about every one of them fell in love with Smithers, and Smithereens.”

Most vowed to come back for more time to explore in our valley, Tomlin said.

Their welcome included a meet and greet from Smithers Mayor Cress Farrow, who along with councillors Charlie Northrup and Frank Wray were treated to a front seat ride during the parade on Friday that followed the two-hour static display that brought out many a valley resident, some from as far away as Houston, who came down to enjoy the show.

“I found it really fascinating,” Farrow said. “What a way to showcase our community to visitors [and to] get the community spirit.”