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Euromeet 2009

Euromeet 2009 – The Largest Ever Honda S2000 European Gathering

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To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the launch of the Honda S2000, Lee Benson, came up with the idea of holding the largest ever European gathering of S2000s.  It proved not to be an impossible dream.  He had previously organised several smaller road trips in and around France for the UK S2000 Owners’ Club but wanted to do something a little more ambitious and challenging.  

After several months mulling over the idea with Ian Eygelsheim (Chairman of S2KUK) and with some of the people with whom he had collaborated in the past from the French S2000 Owners' Club, it was decided that northern Italy would be the perfect place to hold the event. Lee enrolled in Italian night classes and in August 2008, armed with pigeon Italian, flew out to Italy with Ian to meet Furio (Furio Fraccaroli - President S2K Club Italia) and Beppe (Beppe Magistro - Secretary S2K Club Italia).  They both knew straight away that they had chosen the right place and the right people to deliver a fantastic event.

Lee worked non stop for 9 months to ensure that everything was in place and the fantastic rapport he built up with the Italians was the perfect recipe for success.  I became involved in the latter stages of the organisation and liaised with Honda UK to help secure the participation of Shigeru Uehara-san, the Chief Designer of the S2000 (he also played a leading role in developing the Integra Type R and the NSX).  I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside a wonderful team of organisers.  Furio, who oozes enthusiasm, and his team in Italy, were so efficient and such fun to be with. 

 

Shigeru Uehara-san (chief designer of the S2000) and Lee Benson (event organiser).


The event could not have gone any better, there were obstacles to overcome on the way, including a last minute avalanche that blocked the proposed group driving route, but this was cleared in the nick of time.  Uehara-san told Lee that this had been the best event he had ever attended.  It was a most significant and emotional meet.  Uehara-san brought Yamamoto-san, his ex colleague, as a translator. Yamamoto-san, was a test driver for the S2000.  They picked up their limited edition S2000 GT100 from Switzerland and thoroughly enjoyed being back in an S.  So much so that Yamamoto-san ordered his own Edition 100 as soon as he got home.  I have heard of five attendees who have purchased one of the last new S2000s in production and all because their passion and desire for the car has been heightened by their experiences at the meet.

 

227 S2000s and 450 people arrived in Trentino, Italy on Friday 10th April, 13 European countries were represented.  

My mother and I are both S2000 owners, we took her car to share the driving.  We had been looking forward to the event so much and loved the experience of driving through France, entering Germany and reaching over 200 kph on the autobahn. 

 

 

As we went over the border to Austria we caught our first glimpse of the snow-capped peaks.  There is something special about experiencing this from the open cockpit of the S, cue first tears of happiness and wonderment at the beauty of our continent.  We were captivated by carpets of edelweiss in the Alpine meadows bordering the roads.  The hills were alive with the sounds of VTEC and that is definitely one of our favourite things.

 

 

The scenery and roads got better and better.  The atmosphere on arrival was electric.  The excitement intensified as, soon to be friends, with a common passion, arrived at the venue in Levico Terme.   The valley echoed to the sound of the beautiful high revving engines and fruity exhaust notes.  Of course with so many S2000s present there were a wide variety, some who had chosen not to gild their lily and others with various modifications, both cosmetic, performance and aural quality enhancing.  For example, one particular car was fitted with gull-wing doors, another with matte black paint and pink wheels and my favourite was specially transformed into a tiger for Euromeet but only to the skin.  The owner, Burnie Nixon, has no mods to enhance performance; he doesn’t need them as he is one of the bravest drivers.  He entertained us immensely with his sideways antics on the precipitous mountain roads.   One of the other UK attendees came along in his 600+ bhp S2000, tuned by Mase Engineering, with his friend Mase himself as co-driver.

The “Mase'd” S, the most powerful S2000 in Europe


Burnie’s Tiger

 

Levico Terme

 

The scenery was amazing, I have never driven alongside people skiing before!  I am used to my ears popping on package flights to the sun but the effects of altitude are much more visceral when experienced at the wheel of an S2000.

When we arrived at various meeting points, many of us felt very emotional.  To see so many S2000s together in such a picturesque setting was breathtaking and we will never forget it.  From the point of view of others, the setting was also the perfect backdrop for the display of goodies as drivers threw open their bonnets.

 

 

We went all the way down the other side of the mountain to Trento.  As well as marking the route with arrows, the Italian organisers had even arranged for the local police to shut the City centre for us.  All 227 cars settled in the same car park -  what a sight! 

 

Some of the 227 cars all together in Trento

We finished our day with a group meal and charity auction/raffle.  We are very thankful to our sponsors for supporting us and to all those who donated items both from the realms of business and from within our community.  This has helped us to achieve such a fantastic result for our chosen charities.  We had excellent prizes to auction from a two day track day at Spa Francorchamps to a set of tyres and of course a subscription from our friends at Banzai Magazine.  We are delighted that we have so far been able to raise more than 10,000 Euros for  Médecins Sans Frontières and the Italian Earthquake Fund and this figure increased further with the sale of the Euromeet DVD which was created by Brian Hatton and his son, Phil.

On Sunday morning, various smaller group drives were organised which gave attendees the opportunity to find more equally magnificent roads in this beautiful area of northern Italy.  The day was finished off with us all getting dressed up for the Gala Dinner.  We had made loads of lovely friends from all over Europe and the atmosphere was so convivial with us all partying together.

We all had the opportunity to get to know Uehara-san, as he was very friendly spending hours signing his autograph and being particularly receptive to our questions.  He is now our friend.  We were enthralled by his speech, 450 people stood up to show their appreciation of his attendance, bearing in mind he has now retired and made the trip out to Italy all the way from Japan to be with us.  The speech content was interesting and entertaining.  My favourite and most poignant part being “Please take good care of your S2000, keep it by your side for long and enjoy it from the bottom of your heart. And share the quality and legacy of the S2000 with many friends so that the legend of the S2000 will continue for long”.   He also reminded us that we are all very lucky although at that point nobody needed reminding.  It was a heart warming moment and the perfect ending to a fantastic weekend.

 

 

I am very proud to be part of the S2000 family.  I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to drive a wide variety of cars e.g Lotus Elan, Porsche Carrera 4s, BMW M3 etc. but I have never had the passion that I feel for the S2000 with any other car.  Of course we all love VTEC and that high revving engine that hits 9000 rpm but there is just something very special about the S.  I thought I was a good driver, as I am sure most people do but this car has taught me a lot and I totally respect it.  I have discovered the thrill of driving my car in the company of other S2000s and cannot get enough of this fix.  My experiences in Italy have just heightened my desire to keep it by my side and enjoy it from the bottom of my heart.

 The S2000 is “dead” Banzai (long live) the S2000

Let’s all meet up in our S2000s!

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