Stories > How it all started: Gran Turismo Polonia
How it all started: Gran Turismo Polonia

How it all started: Gran Turismo Polonia

Published 2024-03-17 by Peter Ternström

Let's rewind the tape. Not just a bit, let's rewind it two decades. We are going back to the very early days of Gran Turismo, to year 2002 in Sweden.

I had just bought my first supercar. A Ferrari F355 GTB. I was just 24 years old, and I had scrambled the money from zero in just a year. You can read about it here.

Poznan in 2009

The racing track Tor Poznan in 2012

The times were very different back then. A Ferrari was an incredible sight, no matter where on the planet you were. As a young Ferrari owner, I quickly grew tired of driving alone, and actively sought company from other supercar owners.

I immediately joined the local Ferrari Club. I got a member number and an annual magazine. However, something was missing.

Contacting the board of the club, I asked about events. Why weren't there any events organised for the members, where I could meet other owners of the amazing car I had. I especially asked for track driving, since this was my passion.

Tor Poznan in 2016

Tor Poznan in 2018

The answer made me disappointed. Not only by the attitude, but also by the lack of confidence in the cars from Maranello we were driving.

"Peter, thank you for your email. Sadly, we do not think Ferrari cars are suited for the race track. They are much too precious, and will probably break. The Ferrari owners of the club prefer to drive them on a beautiful road on a Sunday morning during the summer."

He added "If you want we could organise an afternoon coffee and pizza meet at a restaurant in Stockholm."

I did not agree. I could not accept that my Italian supercar could not be driven on the track. I asked for permission to organise a track driving event for the club.

"Sure. Go ahead, but don't expect many to register" was the answer.

This was in the spring of 2003. I quickly managed to rent at a racetrack. The track was Gelleråsen, a great three kilometre circiut near Karlskoga in Sweden.

Poznan in 2009

Tor Poznan in 2018

The event attracted 42 Ferrari owners from all over Sweden, and was a great success. The drivers loved it. No cars had any technical problems, even though they were driven at the limit on the track. It was a wonderful day.

"This is the most fun I have ever had with my Ferrari" - a driver said.

It was driving the whole day, and for lunch we had hot dogs, if I remember correctly.

Six months later, I got a fateful email from one of the participants.

"Can I register to next year's track event with you?" - it stated.

I had no choice but to rent the track again during the spring of 2004. This time 80 cars attended. Furthermore, the Ferrari drivers had invited their best friends with Lamborghinis to join. The event was on the first of May 2004. It was absolutely spectacular, and at least a thousand spectators came to watch.

Tor Poznan in 2010

Tor Poznan in 2011

During the fall of 2004 I had a conversation with my family. I have roots in Poland.

"Peter, you know there is a great race track near our house in Poznan" she said.

"Oh really?" I answered.

The next weekend I visited the Polish race track. And, I was in shock. Here, we had a four kilometre fantastic circuit in my mother's home country.

"No one will join you to a former eastern bloc country with their brand new Ferrari" was the general state of mind. I took notice, but chose to ignore the advice.

Instead, I rolled the dice. Took a chance, and rented the Polish race track, Tor Poznan, for two days in July 2005. The name of the event was Gran Turismo Polonia. And, the result was nothing short of epic.

Poznan 2009

Andersia Hotel in 2016

Gran Turismo Polonia, its first edition in 2005, was a proper supercar adventure. A road trip from Sweden through Denmark, an overnight stay in Berlin. Then, crossing the old border to Poland, with a team of hired Polish Harley-Davidson club members escorting us to Poznan.

We were 60 supercars in total joining us for the first Gran Turismo event, and the memories are incredible.

The Harley-Davidson bikers closing intersections together with the local police, the incredible attention whereever we stopped for gas. The news in Poland, the impeccable service from the track. Everything was top notch.

There was no question if Poland was the right destination for supercar owners anymore. It was THE destination. Everyone returned with a fantastic experience, and the name Gran Turismo Polonia became famous.

The next year, the event had its second edition, and 100 supercars from Scandinavia attended. In 2008, there were close to 150 supercars attending the event, not only from Scandinavia, but also from many other countries in Europe. Gran Turismo Polonia became the most important supercar event in Europe east of Berlin.

Award ceremony in Poznan 2005

Poznan in 2009

We got a royal welcome in Poznan, where the city closed off the streets in the centre of the town, for us to race. It was incredible. The golden age of supercar events had begun.

In 2009 we expand our horizon with renting the Nurburgring for exclusive use. A year later we organised the first edition of our Alpine and Monaco, Saint-Tropez tour called Gran Turismo Europa.

Fast forward to today, we organise a dozen fully booked events in Poland, Germany and Italy, and our active driver's roster is over 6 000 supercar owners from all over the world. The red lion, which was trademarked in 2013, becomes a status marker beyond our imagination.

It all started as a tiny track event for Ferrari owners in Sweden in 2003. Now, we have Gran Turismo Events. For many, an important tradition to join every year.

I would like to thank everyone that joined us through the years. Thank you for making this dream possible. You are Gran Turismo. We have shared some incredible moments together over the years. Thank you.

I would also like to thank the incredible team with Justyna, Michal, Björn and the rest. You are the best.

This year, Gran Turismo Polonia has its 20th year anniversary. The event starts in Gdansk on the 24th of June, visits two coastal towns, before going to Poznan and the race track we all love. If you own a supercar, you can register here.

Peter Ternström
Peter Ternström
peter@granturismo.org

Coming Events

Gran Turismo Adriatica
3-11 May 2025
Opatija - Trogir - Mostar - Tivat - Tirana - Skopje - Sofia
Gran Turismo Sardinia
19-26 September 2025
Sardinia, Italy
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Contact us

While our head offices are in Geneva, Switzerland, the team is spread throughout Europe: Sweden, Poland, Italy and Croatia. Please select the appropriate team member to contact below.

For general enquiries, you can always use info@granturismo.org. For event registrations, please use registry@granturismo.org.

Justyna Weclawiak Justyna Weclawiak
Head of Event Organisation
+48 509 706 651
Björn Lagercrantz Björn Lagercrantz
Head of Finance
+46 (0)70 844 64 00
Michal Weclawiak Michal Weclawiak
Event Coordinator
+48 602 134 467
Zdravko Anticic Zdravko Anticic
Head of Content Creation
+385 (0)91 917 32 77
Pietro Bonuccelli Pietro Bonuccelli
Supercar Fleet Manager
+39 349 888 33 89
Marcin Jellinek Marcin Jellinek
Head of Special Events
+48 519 189 081
Nicolas Grandi Nicolas Grandi
Official Photographer
+39 347 917 42 70
Peter Ternstrom Peter Ternström
Founder and President
+39 331 332 50 80