The Zoute Grand Prix

Posted on November 7, 2016.

Story and pictures by Henk J. Brouwer of  n’Joy Media


Some years back I received from other photographers some photos to put on my website and I was thrilled by them, telling me the story of the Zoute Grand Prix. It is organized in Belgium along the coast near the Dutch border. It is situated in a beautiful area, adjacent to a nature reserve and the area is famous with birdwatchers for the numerous bird-species foraging here on their migration to the North or the South. But the Zoute Grand Prix fortunately is about cars and nothing other than cars!


The Zoute Grand Prix is five events in one!

It’s the general name for the Zoute Rally, Zoute Sale, Zoute Concours d’Élégance, Zoute Top Marques and Zoute GT Tours. This year’s seventh edition was held from 6th to 11th October, from Thursday to Sunday. The Zoute Top Marques is the bit that lasts the whole event. The great exotic brands – Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Rolls Royce, McLaren and Porsche – had permanent displays with their newest and hottest models, a Le Mans car or a classic. They are situated at the “Zeedijk – Het Zoute” and the salesmen were trying to make the audience excited by opening a hood, wing-doors or an inviting “Please sir, take a seat behind the wheel… and let it impress you!” Ferrari showed the 488, 488 Spider, the California T and GTC Lusso. McLaren showed his magnificent 570GT and BMW the i8 E-drive and 760Li X-drive. And there were plenty more…


Ahh… the Zoute Rally. There was a large field of participants in two separate categories. There’s the competitive part and the “enjoy part” The first one is obvious, the second one is also referred to as the dignified closure of the classic events season. This is not about getting the points but to enjoy the ride. They drive along with the competitive participants in the same area, but have an abbreviated route. The rally starts on Thursday with a prologue of about 5,5km. This will determine the start order of the rally on the first day, on which they drive to Zonnebeke for lunch at the memorial museum Passchendaele 1917 and to pay respects to the fallen soldiers during the First World War. The second day they visit Kortrijk. Both days they have to drive a distance of about 250km. The winners were car no.2, Martens/Pyck in their Alvis Firefly Special (1932).


The auction by Bonhams was scheduled for Friday.  The preview was in the morning and in the afternoon the auction itself (results are on their website). However, you have to make choices visiting as a photographer and so we went for the rally. It is also obvious that the events within the Zoute Grand Prix are actually too much for one person to cover. In addition to the rally, all the other events are fairly far apart, such as the flying 1¼ mile and Zoute GT. In this latter event there were 200 cars from Ferrari, Alfa, Porsche and Lamborghini to Mercedes-Benz, Bentley, McLaren and Audi. The first three places were occupied by a Porsche 918 Spyder, Nissan GT-T and a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Fastest Ferrari (California T) ended up in 7th place. Search the videos on YouTube and you see cars driving that you just never see in everyday traffic. For that reason alone you should book a hotel for a few days and, apart from the cars – enjoy the Belgian hospitality!


The concours took place at the Minigolf arena on Saturday morning. At least that was the intention, but some of the cars cars were missing. In the course of the morning most participants were on their assigned place and polishing their cars or chatting with other participants. On Sunday all cars had to be moved to the Royal Zoute Golf Club, surrounded by the most beautiful villas. The eldest participant was the Bugatti 35T Two Seater Grand Prix (1925). The newest cars were two Alfa Romeos, a Superleggera Disco Volante and a  Spyder. A member of the Ferrari Club Netherland brought his Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Prototipo (Best of Show at the Concourse in Apeldoorn) and won “Best in 275 GTB-365 GTB/4 class”. Best of show was the Fiat 8V Berlinetta Rapi (1932).


In the early morning and late afternoon we spotted many cars that participated in the rally. At a roundabout in the center of town they placed some straw bales and sitting on them there was plenty to be seen. A completely chrome-plated Jaguar, a really pimped Honda Civic, fully dressed ladies with fifi-doggies with bows overdressed in Dior, Prada or Chanel, a family with mum and dad and three kids in a carrier cycle (very convenient!) and ah yes… a Bugatti Veyron! It was the place to be for a photographer and everybody who sat there just watching, smoking a large cigar or eating a burger with fries enjoyed themselves hugely.

On the final day the weather was nice and it was awfully crowded everywhere. The number of visitors last year was about 150,000, this year the organisers were talking about 200.00 visitors and, judging by the crowds and rows of people, that increasewould probably be right.  But they all enjoyed an excellently organised event with huge diversity, beautiful cars in a lovely city.

To see more of Henk’s fabulous pictures of this event please go to our Flickr page.

Our Official Partners