Sotogrande, a residential development along Spain’s Mediterranean coast, is holding an inaugural Grand Prix to drum up interest in local investment and extend the tourist season. Billed as an event for the “super elite,” the rally of more than 100 pre-1965 vintage and GT cars begins today and runs through May 28th.
The 7.7-square-mile, privately-owned resort community in Andalusia was founded in 1962 as a playground for the internationally wealthy and acquired by Cerberus Capital Management for $250 million (at today’s exchange rates) in 2014. Organizers hope that the Sotogrande Grand Prix will eventually rank among the world’s foremost car rallies, including Italy’s Concours d’Elegance Villa d’Este and Mille Miglia.
The Sotogrande Rally, the first of five automotive events that comprise the Grand Prix, is a three-day, 560-mile route beginning in Seville’s Plaza de España. The caravan travels through Cordoba and ends Friday at the Guardiaro River Bridge in Sotogrande for a speed test called the Flying ¼ Mile.
It’s part of a plan to bring more luxury events to the region, said Marc Topiol, CEO of Sotogrande SA, the real estate and tourism company hosting the Grand Prix. “"Events like this have an immediate impact on their surroundings in terms of business across all sectors and if they are well executed, their benefits reverberate positively for a long time to come,” he said. “Although this is the first time that a lifestyle and sporting event on this scale has come to southern Andalusia, it is attracting large numbers of international visitors.”
Many five-star hotels and restaurants along the rally’s route have been fully booked since the Grand Prix was announced, according to Topiol. “Given the context of the event, of course it is bringing enthusiasts and collectors but also many global affluent visitors,” he said.
Saturday’s Sotogrande Concours d’Elegance at La Reserva Club will show 13 models, including an Aston Martin DB2 Volante that raced the 1949 24-hour Le Mans, the OSCA MT4 that won the Modena Grand Prix in 1950, a Jaguar E-Type 3.8 OTS S1, the Lancia Aurelia Competicion owned by Swiss Ferrari F1 pilot Gianclaudio Regazzoni, and the only Kellison in Spain. Beginning Friday, the Sotogrande Top Marques exhibits along the Marina de Sotogrande newer models from international luxury automakers.
The fifth event, the Sotogrande GT Tour on Sunday, showcases more than 100 GT vehicles made after 1996 for tours through the Andalusian mountains and track tests.