Road to Saigon 2018
4 February - 2 March 2018
FEBRUARY 2, 2018 - Singapore
Car Collection Day
Singapore, one of the great trading nations of the world, is where the Road to Saigon finds itself this morning. The first ERA rally of 2018 has rolled into town and, in varying states of jet lag and climatic confusion, the crews and the organising team awoke, blinking and yawning in their suites at the Capella Resort on Sentosa Island, the self styled State of Fun and the southernmost point of continental Asia.
Today is car collection day and there’s something about the atmosphere inside a customs shed which is hard to describe and even harder to replicate. Whatever the recipe though, it’s a heady mix and seemingly quite addictive as the number of familiar faces attests to.
Today, the unmistakable aroma of old cars combined with the steamy 30° tropical fug of the Lion City and it wrapped itself around the chugging diesel cargo carriers, the towering cranes and the hi visibility and scurrying port workers.
At a given signal then some 29 anxious crews rushed headlong into this miasma to be reunited with their cars after the long sea journey in scenes reminiscent of Christmas morning and an airport arrivals gate.
Somewhere deep in the Stygian gloom of the warehouse, David Ayre got the show on the road and, swinging on his starting handle caused his venerable Itala to burst into song. Andrew Twort turned the key to Amy Amazon which also obliged first time and this pretty much set the pattern for the rest of the crews.
Keith Ashworth’s new Jaguar and Eric Andersen’s Oldsmobile were in fact the only two cars which failed to start because of flat batteries, but Andy Inskip was on hand with his jump leads to breath life into the old lumps and in next to no time they were back with the pack.
Amidst this oriental noise and heat, Melvyn Palmer of CARS ran operation reunion with a glacial coolness and the precision of a Seiko watch. Thanks to his weeks of pre - planning and preparation all that was required from the crews this morning was a quick passport check, one scribbled signature and then the ‘fun and games’ and the roads of Singapore were there for the taking.
So it was then that well before lunch all of the cars and crews were safely back at the Capella to sort out those annoying last minute niggles, real or imagined ........
Tomorrow the paper trail begins with signing on, scrutineering and the competitors briefing, so sharpen your pencils.
Today we also heard the sad news that one of our own, Rod Taylor has died after a long illness. Rod took part in the London Cape Town epic (with the likes of Mark Buchanan and Ralf Weiss who are here with us in Singapore) and he also drove with his wife Rosemary in two editions of the Alpine Trial and the Flying Scotsman.