The Community is Closer Than the Competition at This Vintage Gravel Track Race

You would think in a country famed for one of the highest purchase tax rates on cars that the Danish automotive scene would be limited. In reality the community is thriving, albeit in a unique and quirky way.

Denmark is home to a hugely diverse group of club meets throughout the summer months, covering all major marques and genre, dig a little deeper and there are small dedicated groups doing things differently.

 The Vest Jydsk Grusbaneløb (West Jutlandish Gravel Track Run), a race for cars and motorcycles before 1954 in a “traditional style” highlights a great example of what can happen when you take Danish community spirit and combine it with niche automotive sub groups.

Arriving at the the Grusbane after a couple of hours in an 87 year old car, no side windows, wavering steering, exhaust leaks and leaf spring suspension without dampers I was weary but all was soon forgotten as the rhythmic bass line of a Johnny Cash tune echoed across the lake, and I could see the white T-shirts and turn-ups. Beaming smiles and hugs all round, it takes about 30 seconds before everyone’s settled in to the cross armed gathering around the engine compartment typical of car meets around the world. Chins were scratched, fueling mixtures or timing adjustments discussed.

This year marked the 5th running of the Vest Jydsk having moved to May to free up the calendar for Rømø Motor festival in September. It’s the third time I have attended the race and the traditional hotrodders and Rockabillies were as warm and welcoming as they were the first time I arrived at the race without any Danish language skills or even a car!

1930s Ford Model A speeding round a gravel race track

The event mixes pre 1954 dirt racing with live Rockabilly music through Friday and Saturday night. In fact for most people attending its more about the lifestyle and music than the cars themselves, but without one I can’t imagine the existence of the other.

In terms of racing, it’s an informal affair more about personal vengeance entertainment than lap times and podium placement. None the less those who do race don't hold back despite the age of the iron.

The first race pitched my 30 Ford Coupe against an early 50s Chevy driven by a notoriously spirited driver. As I mentioned previously these races are for fun, no one really pays attention to who’s winning or losing……but for the record, I won. The soft sand and tight short laps level the field so power has no effect here…..although makes for some pretty epic rooster tails.

Entrants included, a 1928 Ford Roadster, a 1952 Chevrolet, a 1929 Ford Sedan, my own Coupe and a few bikes including a BSA 350ish hardtail, an Ariel and a diesel pedal scooter……on bicycle tyres.

Away from the track everyone apparently got the same memo and the car park was awash with early 50s Chevrolets. A couple of ’32 Fords, a variety of pickups and a stunning 30s Ford ambulance with only 5000km since new! Rounding off the bikes was a panhead Harley with a repurposed kayak for a sidecar, and even a beautifully preserved Indian.

Drifting a 1930s car around bumpy dirt tracks takes it toll, so despite winning my first race (did I mention I won) I developed a substantial fueling issue and electrical gremlins. Even with the best efforts of everyone who helped push my car around repeatedly I didn’t make it back to the start line again.

And that’s what makes the Vestjydsk Grusbaneløb so great, the racing is fun and exciting sure, the live bands are entertaining, but it’s that community spirit. It’s looking in the mirror and spotting seven grinning faces pushing your car down the track trying with all their might to help get you back into the competition.

You can follows Craig's racing Adventures with Old Red, his 1930 Ford Model A Coupe, on his Instagram

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