The inaugural Bumble Bee Rally will leave Edinburgh’s Holyrood Palace on Sunday May 8th, 2016, with up to 24 motoring enthusiasts from the UK taking part in a 1,600 mile journey, across seven countries, taking in some of the highest mountain passes in the Alps en route to the glamorous Côte d’Azur and the principality of Monaco.
After crossing the Channel, the rally will make three overnight stops in Bonn and Ulm in Germany, and Varenna in Italy, before making the final dash down through Italy to the French Riviera in time for a reception on May 12th at Le Berlugan à la Plage in Beaulieu-sur-mer. Here, a dinner will be held in memory of the late Richard Barlas, affectionately known as “Bee”, who made the same trip with his friend and rally organiser Alan O’Connor in 2008.
The rally is raising funds for the charity Richmond’s Hope, which provides bereavement counselling for children who have lost parents, very poignant since Richard’s untimely passing, aged 50, left behind his wife Claire with their four adorable children.
Cars from all eras will be taking part with a line up including Aston Martin, Bentley, BMW, Jaguar and Porsche. Support vehicles from France will pick up the rally in Amsterdam, with Beaulieu residents Gerry Brown and Andrew Jopson ready to provide assistance on what can at times be a challenging route. Le Berlugan owner Ian Connor will join Alan O’Connor in his Porsche 356 Outlaw and help keep pace with racing driver David Goodwin’s Bentley Turbo among others vying to be first into the Principality.
O’Connor stresses it’s not a race but more of a fun-packed adventure and raising awareness for an extremely worthwhile cause. Prizes won’t be for the fastest time or best performance but perhaps for the biggest drama or the worst dressed drivers. Friends and partners will arrive on the coast in time for the big dinner with more than 50 guests expected to let their hair down at the seaside restaurant.
The rally has been timed to coincide with this year’s Grand Prix Historique, with some of the group joining the Bentley Drivers Club on their biannual pilgrim over the weekend. “If this year is a resounding success,” O’Connor says, “then we’d definitely like it to become a regular event where we open the doors to even more participants.
“This year has very much been about friends creating a legacy for someone we were all very fond of.”