Shakedown after lockdown!!

Shakedown after lockdown!!

The weather forecast was promising as was the number of NIIMC members who were keen to get their cars out on the open road again to blow away some of the cobwebs that had gathered over the last 6 months since lockdown.  Johnny had planned a route that would spare us the monotony of motorway driving and take us on a far more scenic route on A and B roads throughout the day. We met at McDonalds and Sprucefield and after talking to some Porsche Club members who had gathered to admire some proper Italian style we set off in convoy on a route that would take us via Dromore, Tandragee, Hamiltonsbawn, Keady, Newtownhamilton and Slieve Gullion forest before arriving at our final destination – the Ballymascanlon House Hotel for those who were having a meal and staying overnight.

We had a variety of cars participating and it was pleasing to see a number off new club members and their partners who were brave enough to join us (we are a friendly bunch really) and were keen to get behind the wheel and enjoy some great driving roads. We had modern Giulias, a Mito and an Abarth Spider as well as some potential modern classics in the form of an Alfa GT Coupe, GTV and Spider. We also had cars that have already achieved classic status – Alastair’s 80’s Alfasud Sprint, Brian’s late 60’s Guilia Ti saloon  as well as Paul’s stunning 1969 1750 Bertone. Johnny’s Lamborghini Gallardo Spider in baby blue (reportedly previously owned by Vidal Sassoon) attracted much attention although Johnny claims it was him and not the car that was a natural head turner.

First pitstop was the Tandragee 100 road racing circuit – we gathered in the pitlane and then headed off for a few laps of the circuit, perhaps not as quickly as the motorbikes and no overtaking, but then again we were maintaining our social distancing. Next stop was coffee in Keady and then we headed to Slieve Gullion forest where we took the cars on the tight and winding road around the Ring of Gullion. The scenery was breathtaking but we couldn’t take our eyes off the road for too long given the twists and turns that we had to contend with.

The afternoon had flown by and the sun was still shining but as dinner beckoned the hungry members headed to the hotel to check in and freshen up before the evening meal. I couldn’t stay but the hotel was a superb choice and those who did stay thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the standard of the accommodation. I headed home but this time took the main road which although swifter was not nearly as rewarding. Thankfully everyone’s cars performed well and benefited from being driven after the recent period during which limited miles had been clocked up.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and great to see new faces (and some old ones), have new conversations and swap stories. Finally after months of waiting we got to do what our car club does best – drive our cars and talk about our passion for all things Italian.

Hopefully we can manage to organise some more club runs in the near future before some of the cars are tucked away for winter hibernation.


Tim Logan
Club Chairman