The 12th May 2023 was a super fun, unforgettable day. I attended my first ever racing car rally as a spectator not a participant (ha ha). I was very excited about this adventure as I am a racing car virgin. Somehow I’ve managed to reach nearly the ripe old age of 50 and I’ve never attended a race. I’ve only ever watched F1 on the TV. I am a huge fan of British racing driver Jenson Button who was born in Frome, Somerset which is a stone’s throw from my birth town of Bristol. I’ve always wanted to attend this mind-blowing event in Portugal but I’ve never managed it in previous years despite the event track route being minutes from our home. The main reason is because the event is always held on a weekday and usually they have 2 circuits passing through at around 11:00 and 15:30 which is really inconvenient timing as hubby works FT and long hours Monday – Friday so he can never take me.

My hobbies and interests are varied and although I love adventures with my soulmate I am not the adrenaline junkie type of person. I have no desire to throw myself out of an aeroplane, I mean a Skydive and not just throw myself off an Easyjet flight mid route (ha ha). I would rather poke my eyes out with a plastic daffodil than participate in a bungee jump but I would love to go white water rafting. I’ve always had a passion and strong connection with nature and water, calm and serenity brings me much joy. We fell in love with SUP boarding when we relocated to Portugal. I also have some sensory difficulties with loud noises but I don’t mind dirt. My happy place is in my little haven of a garden, elbows high in dirt and growing my own organic fruit and veggies. Baring all this in mind you would think that attending the official Rally of Portugal would be my worst nightmare but it’s something that has always been on my bucket list and 2023 was the year I made my dream become true.

The Vodafone Rally de Portugal, is the biggest motorsport event held in Portugal. The first race was back in 1967 making this year the 56th edition of the rally. Arganil is considered one of the most mythical stages on the world circuit so we are incredibly lucky to live in this Municipal so close to all the action.


1st pass: 11:05 am – Arganil 1 (18.72 km)

2nd pass: 3:35 pm – Arganil 2 (18.72 km)

Regrouping at Sub-Paço, Arganil: 11:45 am

Spectators Guide/Info:

Burn Rubber & Eat My Dust

I don’t really know anything about Rally driving so I can’t rant on about this remarkable event. My only knowledge is from watching motor racing on TV and the epic 1980’s film Herbie goes bananas (ha ha). Gosh I loved that film growing up in the 80’s. Volkswagen Beetles are awesome! There is something quite magical about standing on a mountain hill under the Portuguese sun and watching the cars race by leaving a cloud of dust and debris in the air. What a truly unique experience. I now know where the phrase “Burn rubber & Eat my dust” originates from (ha ha).

There are a few routes to spectate from in Arganil and I chose the nearest location to our home: Pai dos Donas but when we arrived there were two police officers (GNR) who directed us to a different location at Esculca. Luckily we just made it in time up the narrow mountain roads. Parking was along the dirt track road and we had to walk a couple of hundred metres to the starting point next to the Viewpoint with a scenic swing and water tank. Wow, what an impressive spot with panoramic views. Although we arrived with minutes to spare we managed to find a perfect spot right at the front which was unbelievable. It was wonderful to see so many people having fun with flags, tents, huge picnic boxes full of beer and one guy even had a huge keg of beer (ha ha). He was having words with the GNR and I was surprised that they let him in with his keg. I was on a mission to befriend him before it rolled down the hill (ha ha).

There were a few men sitting and standing on the edge of the gigantic water tank waving their countries flags with pride. I have no idea how they climbed up and although it has an incredible view of the rally cars, I knew if I risked it that I would end up falling in (ha ha). It was so much fun watching the talented professionals race around the dirt tracks of the Serra do Açor. A lot of folk bought their own picnics but there was a mobile food truck selling snacks and refreshments and I very nearly gave in to a Bifana and a beer. I wore sunglasses because I knew I might get dust in my eyes and I didn’t want to irritate them after my recent eye surgery to fix my retina. Hubby bought his sunglasses but accidentally forgot them and left them in the car so he struggled a bit with the gigantic clouds of dust. I tried not to laugh at him (ha ha). 

There was a family standing next to us wearing face masks. They had small kids, a baby and a dog. Every time a car passed by the mum turned around to shield her baby which was crying and the dog was not impressed. I knew I would get grubby so I wore non-precious cheap clothing. This event is probably not the best place to take a small baby and my advice would be to leave your pets at home. A young lady who was dressed to impress came and stood close to me and after a car hurtled past at lightning speed and saturated her with dust she ran off (ha ha). I’m not sure what she was expecting but I’m sure it’s a valuable lesson to learn to wear old clothes and leave your white trainers at home with your dog. By the end of the event we were saturated in dust from head to toe, it was pretty hilarious (ha ha). There are other locations in Arganil where you can sit on a huge grassy hill and watch from a safe distance but I wanted front row action and we were not disappointed. I felt like VIP royalty (ha ha). When we were leaving I had to negotiate a steep decline of a hill and hubby held my hand. The man next to me could see I was struggling and he held my other hand. Bless this lovely Portuguese stranger. I may very well have my 3rd husband lined up if it goes pear shaped with hubby (ha ha).

I’m not sure how this blog post can portray such glory as I can’t share hubby’s amazing video’s just photos. I have the video’s available on my Casa Valhal Facebook and Instagram page if you are interested in viewing them. I can’t be trusted to take videos because I end up taking a film of my thigh or the floor so I was in charge of just photos on this occasion. I think I got the harder task, timing is everything (ha ha). I am so glad that hubby decided to treat me and take me to this spectacular afternoon of fun. He took a late lunch then worked later into the evening once we returned home, I’m a lucky girl. We had such a blast that hubby has decided that next year he will book the afternoon off work and we will make a day of it and take a picnic. I think we may try a different location next time, I quite fancy the main Arganil spot. If you love adrenaline pumping sports and are a speed freak then this is the event for you! Come join me next year to watch some magnificent cars and inspiring drivers fly through the air, you won’t regret it as it’s such a memorable day having fun in the sun.

Photo Gallery – The Fast & Furious Portuguese Style

Rally Selfies

The calm before the dust storm! A few selfies before we got down & dirty (ha ha).

Dirty & Dusty

How it ended (ha ha). I had a sneaky suspicion it would be a dirty affair so I wore my non precious €3 Primarni leggings, €5 top and non white trainers. I was in a mad rush to leave the house and somehow I managed to wear my top back to front. At least it wasn’t inside out (ha ha).

Stunning Views from Esculca

The views of my local mountain range: Serra do Açor are breathtaking. Such beauty on my doorstep, I am totally blessed with mother nature.

Worthy Winner

Just in case you are interested, the winner was Finnish Kalle Rovanperä. You can check out all the winners and timings on the official rally website. I have shared the link above in the Info section. A year after becoming the youngest ever winner, Kalle Rovanperä dominated the 56th Vodafone Rally of Portugal. At the age of 22, Kalle looks set to continue to make history in the World Rally Championship. I’m not sure if I’m getting old but in my eyes this hero looks about 15 (ha ha). A HUGE Congratulations to this awesome dude. 

Remember folk, anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing.