In the late 1920s, the Automobile Week was founded in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The simple goal was to attract more people to St. Moritz. Several events were part of the Automobile Week, including the Kilomètre Lancé, a Concours d'Elegance, driving tests, a rally, and the Bernina Race as the grand finale. Unfortunately, this era came to an end, and it wasn't held for decades. Then, in 2014, after an incredibly long hiatus, a hill climb race on the Bernina Pass was finally held again. Six years later, in 2020, there was suddenly an unofficial pilot project where some Germans drove cars on the Samedan Airport runway. From this, the rebirth of the legendary Kilomètre Lancé crystallized.
The entire Automobile Week was revived, featuring several fascinating events. It started with the Kilomètre Lancé, which took place almost 100 years ago on the long Shellstrasse. Of course, you can't block an important road for an entire day, so they switched to the nearby Engadine Airport, with its 1,840-meter-long runway. This year marks the third official Kilomètre Lancé, and it already garnered attention last year. Modern hypercars, pre-war vehicles, concept cars, or motorcycles of all kinds – everything with an engine and something special is welcome at the Kilomètre Lancé. This year, there were even tractors present, with no fewer than 12 Porsche Diesel tractors participating in a classic Le Mans-style race.
Also, this year, some legendary Le Mans racing cars were in attendance. One of the highlights was the Sauber C9. The Mercedes-Benz Sauber C9 was first developed in 1987 and competed in the Group C class of sports car racing. Its debut was at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year. The C9 was equipped with a powerful 5.0-liter V8 turbocharged engine developed by the German company HWA (Hans Werner Aufrecht), capable of producing over 900 horsepower. The Mercedes-Benz Sauber C9 was highly successful in motorsport, with its greatest triumph being the victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1989. The car also won the World Sports-Prototype Championship in the same year. The Mercedes-Benz Sauber C9 was succeeded by the C11 in 1990, which also competed in the Group C class.
As in previous years, there were some classic prototypes present that had served as test vehicles in the past. One of them was the Mercedes-Benz Streamline Car. The Mercedes-Benz 540K Streamline Car was introduced at the Berlin Motor Show in 1938. Its most striking feature was its streamlined design, which was revolutionary in the 1930s. This design was developed to minimize aerodynamic drag and increase speed. The 540K Streamline Car was powered by a 5.4-liter inline-eight engine producing 180 horsepower. This powerful engine allowed the car to achieve impressive speeds, reaching up to 185 km/h. This was remarkable performance for the 1930s. The Streamline Car was a one-off creation, meaning there was only a single version of this car. It was specifically built for record runs and presentation purposes.
Another very impressive car was the Porsche Type 64. Porsche only built a single example, which was formerly Ferdinand Porsche's private car. Several years ago, it was auctioned off for a whopping 17 million dollars and has been in private ownership since. The original was completely restored by Michael Barbach. He used all his knowledge and experience with this legendary car to faithfully build his own Type 64. Since then, he has participated in the Kilomètre Lancé every year.
Another highlight was the Aston Martin Valkyrie. Although it's a hypercar, it fits perfectly into this event because there are no restrictions based on the age of the cars. In past years, many modern cars were also present, such as a Bugatti Divo, a De Tomaso P72, or a Chiron. And that's what makes it special. It includes cars from all age groups and price ranges, creating incredible diversity at this event. There was even someone who used roller skates to glide alongside an 812 at breakneck speed on the airport runway.
In the end, it's an ancient event format that only happens once, at Samedan Airport.