“Baltic Way 30” – the First Day of a Vintage Car Tour

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“Baltic Way 30” – the First Day of a Vintage Car Tour

On August 18-20, 2019, in order to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Baltic Way, the enthusiasts of vintage vehicles from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, driving the historic cars, repeated the historic Baltic Way on the Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn route. This vintage car tour was not only the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, but also the first joint event of vintage car clubs of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that has happened since the restoration of independence of the three states. Noteworthy is that the participants of the event drove along the entire authentic way not missing any road or town through which the Thread of Liberty naturally stretched 30 years ago and which still inspires freedom defenders around the world.

A total of 205 historical exhibits took part in the extraordinary event attracting the attention of media from all around the world: there were 53 vehicles from Lithuania, 33 from Latvia, 113 from Estonia, 3 from Poland, 2 from Belarus and 1 from Finland. Depending on the age of the vehicles, the participants could take a partial route. They only could choose any part of the road joining the march from Vilnius, Panevėžys, Pasvalys, Riga, Valmiera or Viljandi, and traveling as far as the participant’s car’s capacity or driver’s desire allows.

VILNIUS 18/08/2019, CATHEDRAL SQUARE

On Sunday, August 18, as many as 150 historic vehicles gathered for the start of the Baltic Way vintage car tour on Cathedral Square. The oldest car to participate in the exhibition in Vilnius was the Ford T Touring, built in 1921, and the oldest motorcycle, built in 1928, by Indian Scout 101. There were heavy duty vehicles as well – the Ikarus 55 LUX manufactured in 1972.

After singing the anthems of the three Baltic countries, Egidijus Einoris, the President of Antique Automobile Club Klasika, began the official part of the event. He introduced the participants of the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way as well as the idea and goals of the march (tour). The Chairman of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Viktoras Pranskietis, the Ambassador of Estonia to Lithuania Jana Vanaveski and the Chairman of the Latvian People’s Front Romualdas Ražukas delivered welcoming speeches. The honorable guests also presented the national flags to the drivers of the three countries, which were carried along the entire historical Baltic Way from Vilnius to Tallinn. The gathered people were greeted by Agris Šmits, the Chairman of the Latvian Antique Automobile Club, and Veiko Praks, the representative of the Estonian Antique Vehicles Club. All speakers were awarded with commemorative Baltic Way medals by the Klasika Club. After the official part of the event, there was a performance of the modern folklore group Navija from Biržai and the historical photos of the Baltic Way were shown.

The heart of the Lithuanian capital was just the beginning of a long way. At exactly noon, the convoy of vintage cars left the Cathedral Square and started the historic Baltic Way march (tour) Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn. The participants of this extraordinary event opened their thick road books and, after passing the impressive Road of Freedom Memorial Wall monument, moved towards Panevėžys.

Vilnius, Cathedral square – Dainius Nagelė photos

PANEVĖŽYS 18/08/2019, CIDO ARENA SQUARE

Although the length of a large column of vintage cars and motorcycles was difficult to measure and they moved at a speed of only 55 kilometres per hour, the participants of the Baltic Way reached Panevėžys without any major faults within.

Panevėžys greeted the participants of the extraordinary march (tour) marking the extraordinary date as good friends they have not seen for a long time. Dressed in national bands and national flags, the people of Panevėžys invited the participants to the Baltic Way commemoration concert. Panevėžys Mayor Rytis Mykolas Račkauskas, a member of the Antique Automobile Club Klasika Alfredas Zigmantas, chairman of the Latvian Antique Car Club Agris Šmits and representative of the Estonian Antique Car Club Veiko Praks greeted both the participants and all the people that have gathered. By the way, the participants of the march (tour) evaluated the reception of the capital of Aukštaitija as the most impressive, most sincere and national in the whole tour commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way. Many residents of Panevėžys gathered at the event has an opportunity to visit the exhibition of ancient cars, listen to the folk band Pulkelis, chapel Nevėžis, and watch the performance of folk-dance group Grandinėlė. The military equipment was shown by the soldiers of the King Mindaugas Hussar Battalion, who also provided food to hungry visitors of the events and the participants of the march (tour). The businessmen of Panevėžys also contributed to the initiative: Alfredas and Andrius Zigmantas, the members of Klasika, organized and financed the ceremony, the concert and the catering of the participants. It should be noted that this was one of the longest stops in Lithuania. The participants of the tour stayed for two hours only in Vilnius and the city called the capital of Aukštaitija.

After having a taste of soldier’s porridge and some rest, the participants of the 30th anniversary tour of the Baltic Way said goodbye to Panevėžys and headed towards the border with Latvia. It was a great pleasure that in Panevėžys, 15 more cars and motorcycles joined the historic car convoy. The farewell ceremony showed that the spirit of the Baltic Way was still alive: people were lining up in a live tunnel and wishing god-luck in the way that had only started, the finish was still many miles away, without even being asked as the song “Bunda jau Baltija”, the anthem of this extraordinary event, was played.

Panevėžys, Cido arena – Dainius Nagelė photos

PASVALYS 18/08/2019, THE SPORTS SCHOOL SQUARE

After having driven the 45 kilometres separating Panevėžys from Pasvalys, the convoy of vintage vehicles also drove into Pasvalys. The cars and motorcycles lined up on the square near Pasvalys Sports School. Gintautas Gegužinskas, the Mayor of Pasvalys District, and Egidijus Einoris, the President of the Antique Automobile Club Klasika, welcomed the participants of the Baltic Way march (tour) and the residents of the city. Alfredas Zigmantas, the member of Klasika Club, thanked the residents of Pasvalys for their warm and sincere welcome and invited to enjoy the exhibition of vintage cars. During the exhibition there were performed the songs by Henrikas Balčiūnas, the singer of the rock band Laiptai. 

After a brief commemoration of the Baltic Way, the participants of the vintage car tour said goodbye to the residents of Pasvalys and made their way to Riga… And it seemed that the sound of this extraordinary event had already struck every Lithuanian home. With flags and various musical instruments, people went to the road greeting the passing convoy of the Baltic Way with songs and broad smiles. Each day, there were more and more people on the roadsides. Adults and children, old and young, the people went to commemorate their freedom and the Baltic Way symbolizing it.

Pasvalys, the sports school square – Tauras Zakrys photos

RYGA 18/08/2019, RIGA MOTOR MUSEUM

The first day of the march of the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way ended at dusk, at around 9 p.m., when the participants arrived at the Riga Motor Museum. Free tent space and parking for the night were offered to all within the territory of the museum and the access to Bikernieki racetrack. Some of the participants slept with their four-wheeled friends, while others chose hotels. Here the first day of the vintage car march (tour) Baltic Way ended. The first third was overcome. There were going to be hundreds of kilometres and adventures in a good company of like-minded people ahead.