An extraordinary rally that’s been a tradition for nine years. This year’s Going To The Sun Rally will be held in the Napa of the North. Rally director Patrick Bryson sits down with Chet Parsons to go over the details of this special event.
Photography by Will Brewster
A primary component of what makes the automobile such a passionate pursuit is the experience of a great drive. A great drive has become something of a rarity, though, especially if one wishes to drive something vintage, and perhaps worth quite a bit of money. It would be a rare sight to see a restored Jaguar E-Type mixing it up in rush hour traffic. While it may be less uncommon to see such a car cruising up Highway 1 from Carmel to Monterey, would that truly constitute a great drive?
What about cruising through the Northern Rocky Mountains from Montana into central Canada on scenic mountain roads with little or no traffic? Sounds like a perfect place to exercise your vintage car in a way that might otherwise be highly improbable.
If you have an appropriate vintage car, manufactured prior to 1973, and think this sounds like a perfect way to spend six days in September, let me introduce you to my friend Patrick Bryson and the Going To The Sun Rally. Now in its ninth year, the Going To The Sun Rally is similar to other vintage rallies held across the country, but offers the wide-open roads and spectacular scenery of Montana, its neighboring states, and Canada. It was organized as a non-profit, and has donated over $400,000 to local Montana charities. Patrick has served as rally director, and currently assists in the planning and running of the event. He was kind enough to sit down with me and share what makes this event so special.
According to Patrick, “The beauty of a rally like this is that everything is taken care of. All you have to do is ship your car up there and enjoy it.” There is, of course, a cost to all of this, but he really means that everything is taken care of. Routes, maps, lodging, food, are all planned and included. Participants literally arrive and drive.
Given the nature of vintage cars, mechanics are on hand in case of the occasional breakdown, and other participants are likely happy to help as well. Patrick recalled the story of a broken steering component on an Alfa Romeo Montreal that, when a replacement could not be found, was fabricated on the road and kept the Montreal rolling for the rest of the rally. Other stories like this highlight the nature of the typical rally participants. “They’re adventurous people,” says Patrick, “They aren’t couch-sitters. You never have to dress up, and you’ll always be welcome in your Levi’s and cowboy boots.” Relative to other events, the entry criteria for what can be driven is more relaxed as well. As long as it is road-ready and was manufactured before 1973, it’s in. In perusing past attendee lists, there have been some phenomenally unique cars, but you don’t have to have a stable of very rare cars to get in. When I asked Patrick for his advice for those who might be new to this type of event, he said, “If this is your first time, you might be a little intimidated about taking your 50 year old car out in the middle of nowhere, but when you get up there, you’re going to be surrounded by people who have done this before, who are comfortable with what they’re doing, who are ready to have fun, who are going to help you if you have an issue.”
In past years, the rally has seen everything from a Citroen DS Convertible to Ferrari Daytonas and Lamborghini Miuras. Plenty of Porsches, some American muscle cars, and more will round out the forty-car group, meaning a diverse group of drivers and passengers with whom to share the experience. And that’s what it’s all about, the experience.
Going To The Sun Rally this year takes place from September 7-12, and runs from Montana to Canadian wine country. Special thanks to Will Brewster for sharing his photographs of this event.
+ Source: Going To The Sun Rally