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smart times 2017 delivered… sun, sea, sand, Celsius, spectacle, success and, of course, smarts ….everywhere!
Having travelled over 2000km since leaving home, over 40 UK smart owners and enthusiasts joined more than 2800 people from 32 countries across the smart community at the beautiful beach location of Salou, Spain.
The event had promised a lot and anticipation was super high. The previous beach related smart times event was in 2014 in Cascais, Portugal and that had been hugely successful. However, Salou did not disappoint. The main Salou beach promenade, lying between the sea and the ‘Passeig de Jaume 1’, was already lined with smarts more than 48 hours before the official opening on Friday 16th June. It was a spectacular welcoming scene with the cars (fortwo, crossblade, Roadster and forfour) lined beneath the palm trees that were doing their best to cast a little shade from the blazing sun.
Most of us used the ‘Monument a Jaume 1’ (a huge monolithic structure) as a rendezvous point in the middle of the promenade. This monument also acted as the dividing point between the parked cars and the official marquees for BRABUS, the electric drive cars ready for test, third party retailers and the very popular smart Service truck.
Exploring the region
For those of us arriving earlier in the week, a range of genuinely wonderful excursions had been organised and were proving super popular. The first of these, on Wednesday, was a drive from Salou up to the ancient town of Reus for some great photo opportunities and then back down to the beautiful coastal fishing village of Cambrils before returning to Salou.
Thursday saw two further excursions, again, well organised. The morning took us to the stunning city of Barcelona, about one hour north of Salou. Late afternoon brought an excursion to PortAventura situated just above Salou – famous for its theme park including a blast on the amazing rollercoaster!
Then into Friday and, with temperatures still in the mid 30s, many of us took the opportunity to challenge themselves on the pedalos in the sea or relax on the beach. The fourth excursion to Tarragona, a short drive up the coast from Salou was a superb excursion providing an opportunity to take in the ancient ruins of the Roman empire and the impressive amphitheatre overlooking the sea.
Returning to Salou later that day, the famous smart times competitions took place and we were delighted to see the UK win first place in the ‘craziest smart’ content with Sue Toogood’s fortwo.
Much more to see
Of course, smart times is not only about excursions. There were around 30 electric drive smarts to test, a range of other models on show in addition to a test track where one could really experience the handling and turning circle of those.
The beach venue had a wide range of bars and restaurants along the main street, a bar and bistro on the beach, a huge range of sun beds (both in and out the sun) and one of the most technologically impressive event stages I have seen in a long, long time (evidenced by the huge number of generators subtly tucked away from sight).
Feeling the global community
And so, it came to Friday evening. Dr Annette Winkler launched with a number of smart clubs on stage including the UK. I had spent two months compiling a three minute video involving over 10 clubs and groups within the UK involving and more than 30 people all lip-syncing to a traditional Beatles song. It looked fantastic on the huge LED wall and helped start what was a successful smart times weekend. Later that evening Dr Winkler welcomed the Nations from around the world on stage to formally open smart times 2017.
Naomi Cole was our flag carrier representing the UK in her own Roadster accompanied by Sobbin Han from South Korea. There is no doubt that when all Nations had arrived on stage, the spectacle of the people, lights and flags really did demonstrate a united, global community. The music on stage concluded the Friday night with participants returning to bars and hotels prior to a full day’s activities planned for the next day.
With high fives’ en route
Saturday saw cars lining up for the famous corso parade – many cars had been parked there for more than one day to grab a space near the front! On stage, a number of break-dance performances followed by an impressive audio competition by JBL kept the party atmosphere running before the start of the corso parade in the afternoon.
As you will have read from my previous smart times blogs, one of the most popular aspects of these parade drives is the point at which the cars loop back to pass each-other on the way back to the finish venue. Salou was exceptional with more than 500 cars taking part in what was the longest distance of simultaneously opposing smart traffic for any previous smart times event. It was genuinely magical and, with very few parts of the road with any central island area, cars could pass each-other with ‘high fives’ en route. International smart community driving at its best.
The Saturday evening concluded with gathering the smart times organisational teams and personnel on stage for a formal thank you – the planning, challenges and ultimate success of smart times is always underestimated and it’s a testament to their success there were so many smiling faces throughout smart times 2017. Prior to handing over to the feature act DJ Nervo, Dr Winkler announced that the 20th anniversary event for smart times 2018 would take place in Hambach, France, the birthplace of smart manufacturing and, of course, thesmartclub will be there.
smart times is, and has always been, about the smart community coming together – perhaps the only such chance for smart owners and enthusiasts to celebrate the brand, ownership and the common link that brings us together from across the world once per annum. Salou was wonderful and I’d personally like to thank everyone involved in making the 2017 event so successful.
Photos by Al Young, Naomi Cole, Ione Saunders and Mark Bloomfield and Daimler Global Media Site.