Zug, 24.05.2024

"Had to shift down a gear"

This year's classic car meetings on the Stierenmarkt site have been cancelled. Organiser Robi Hümbeli has to take a break for health reasons. He is confident, however, that the event will go ahead again in the future - even without him.

Roaring engines, gleaming carosseries and countless car fans: the "Oldtimer Sunday Morning Treffen" (OSMT) should have celebrated its 25th anniversary on the Stierenmarkt site in Zug this year. But this will not be the case: long-time organiser Robi Hümbeli has had to cancel the event. With a heavy heart: "I’ve lived for the classic car meeting for twenty years," says the 65-year-old (we reported briefly last week).

The reasons are also drastic. Robi Hümbeli suffered a serious stroke two and a half years ago and had to learn to speak and walk again. But he’s now suffered another health setback, and was only able to leave hospital a few days ago. He now has to recover and get his reading and writing skills back on track with therapeutic support, he says. He is also unable to drive at the moment.

Nevertheless, the classic car fan says: "I'm doing well so far. But I need to shift down a gear." He doesn't feel up to running this year's season with the planned meetings in June, July, August and September - even though initial preparations had already been made. "I had to say to myself: that's enough for now."

Up to 1,500 classic cars from all over Switzerland
This was a bitter pill for Robi Hümbeli, who has been involved in the classic car meetings since 2001 - and always "with heart and soul", as he himself says. What began in 1999 with a handful of cars on what is now the Siemens site has become a major event over the years. In the best times before the coronavirus pandemic, he estimates that around 1,500 classic cars from all over Switzerland turned up. Almost too many: "It hurt when I couldn't offer a parking space at the Stiermarkt to someone who had come all the way from Ticino."

Organiser Robi Hümbeli has to reduce his workload     Photo: Stefan Kaiser
Pictures from the 2023 classic car meeting: car fans from all over Switzerland met for the "Oldtimer Sunday Morning Treffen" in Zug.               Photos: Maria Schmid

 

In 2008, the trained electrician, who later worked in IT and marketing, took over the organisation of the classic car meetings. There’s a lot of work behind it: he took care of the marketing, approached the sponsors, maintained the website, produced the programme booklet and took photos on site. "Almost a full-time job," he says. There were also other events during the year, such as trips with classic car fans throughout Switzerland or driving safety training for classic cars. This added up to around ten to twelve events per year.

Support from his children
Robi Hümbeli was not only supported by his colleagues, but also by his children, who became involved from an early age. And for them it became normal that the family couldn't take long vacations together during the periods of the classic car meetings, between May and September.

They also actively helped with the organisation of the first meeting after the coronavirus pandemic in 2022, when Robi Hümbeli was still severely restricted due to the stroke. "I couldn't have done it on my own back then," he recalls. But he is confident that there will be someone among his children who will carry on his "legacy".

The classic car meeting will be continued
However, he adds that everything happened too quickly for the new generation to be able to take over the current season. What's more, he would probably still have been heavily involved if he’d handed over the event this year - too heavily, he suspects. "That's why we decided to skip this year altogether. And in a year's time, we'll see how things look and what happens next."

But there’s no question in his mind that the story of the classic car rally will continue. "There is no 'after me, the deluge'. I've been doing this too long for that." He also wants to see all the people he has met over the years again. "You'll still see me at the Stiermarkt in the future," he promises. And he won't be able to keep his hands off work completely, he admits: "I'll certainly help out a bit here and there."