Once a year, Malta’s famously tranquil shores are shattered by the throaty roar of dozens of engines
That’s right: it’s time for the return of the Mdina Grand Prix. Gorgeous classic cars in sparkling, mint condition are set against the technicolour beauty of the Maltese landscape, as well-dressed crowds jostle to take in the decadence and speed of it all.
The 2015 Mdina Grand Prix will be held from 8th-11th October and will see huge crowds of devoted motor enthusiasts, competitive racers, and car owners descend on Malta for a long weekend of racing, preening and admiration. Understated, it most certainly is not.
Returning for only its fifth year, the Mdina Grand Prix evolved from a classic car race that was initially held among the picturesque streets of Valletta. In 2009, the Valletta Grand Prix Foundation was officially formed, though by 2011 the Valletta track was no longer usable owing to road works.
Seeking a new location, the organisers turned to Mdina: Malta’s Old Capital, the gorgeous, walled city just happened to possess a 2.2 km road circuit with the requisite amount of twists and turns. Coincidence or serendipity? Either way: the Mdina Grand Prix was born.
Since then, the event has ballooned to four days and now welcomes drivers and vehicles from around the world. In addition to the race itself, there’s plenty of other programming – from a Concours d’Elegance to the famed Mtahleb Hill Climb and a number of events hosted at the Corinthia Palace Hotel and Spa.
But the highlight of the Mdina Grand Prix is undoubtedly the race itself, which draws thousands of spectators to watch the gleaming vehicles speed by. This year, the race will be held from 9am to 4pm on Sunday, 11th October; preceding it will be a practice qualifying session on Saturday, 10th October, with a one-hour paddock area open to the general public to follow: it’s the perfect chance to mingle with those uniformed drivers.
But before the racing gets going at full tilt, the weekend officially opens on Thursday 8th October with the frenetic individual hill climb in Mtahleb, followed by an on-site barbeque. Just 10 minutes outside of Mdina’s neighbouring village of Rabat, rural Mtahleb occupies one of the highest points on the island and the climb takes drivers around the one-minute mark, winding uphill on country roads to the summit. Their exertion is well rewarded with some al fresco dining.
The more relaxed and stylish Mdina Glass Concours d’Elegance is held on Friday, 9th October. The Concours d’Elegance gives spectators the opportunity to get up close and personal with the beautifully preserved, rare classic cars, walking around to inspect engines, interiors and fine aerodynamic forms. The day has a vintage feel to it as both owners and visitors get dressed up in their retro finest and live bands provide a festive musical backdrop – it’s like a deliciously swanky passport back to the 40s and 50s.