By Vali Duțu, President CORB44
Club off-road Bucharest CORB44 was founded in 2008, by me, Vali Duțu, and Silviu Bulugioiu. I met Silviu during one of the race stages, held by the Romanian national off-road committee, in Iași in October 2007. At that time I was a member of the original and the biggest off-road club in Romania. Having been a member for five years at that stage, I felt that I needed a change. Meeting Silviu I was happy to discover that we were both pretty much on the same page, and our passion for cars and adventure led us to form this club.
I started off-roading in 1994, while living in England. My passion for the outdoors, for cars, for nature and my never ending search for new life experiences let to me reconsidering my life in London and so, together with my family, we decided to move to Romania. Back then it was impossible not to get acquainted with the off-roading community of this country. With the help of the people I met, I started off-road racing, travelling around Romania, discovering new places, new people and making friends. Silviu on the other hand, had already been involved in rallies in Romania for more than 10 years. It seemed the perfect fit, with our knowledge and dreams, so we started working together and formed this club – CORB44.
In the beginning we were a small team, but with lots of energy. I felt that there should be more than just the racing so in 2008 I came up with the idea of getting everybody involved and spending an entire weekend on the wild beaches north of Constanța, cleaning up all the rubbish left by the tourists. The idea was well received and for the next five years, in autumn, we said good-bye to summer, in a different way. “Desculț prin nisip, Nu printre gunoaie! – Barefoot on sand, Not among rubbish!”.
We also got involved in reforestation, in some parts of Romania. In 2009, together with volunteers, we planted more than 50,000 trees, near Bucharest and also in Maramureș. This is one of the activities we really enjoy, besides racing.
Since CORB44 was formed, we’ve organised off-road competitions each year. At the beginning we held them in Târgu Jiu, but these last five years they have been nearer Bucharest, at Târgoviște. Organising such an event requires a whole heap of man hours and sometimes you feel like enough is enough, but we’ve learnt to overcome the obstacles along the way from local authorities, to the muddy terrain. Off-roading is based on teamwork, friendship and respect for everything around you, from people to nature. This is what brings people together, to find and search for new life experiences. We share our knowledge with people, from simple off-road tuition to much more advanced level driving, from simple how to use a GPS on a phone to orientation in the field, winching and recovery of others.
We also shouldn’t forget the humanitarian part of our club. Over the years, twice a year, we organise aid trips to remote villages in the mountains of Romania. Easter and Christmas are usually the time when we visit such places, to bring a smile and some relief to the people in these communities. We are always happy to receive help from anyone who may wish to get involved, from small donations to full sponsorships and also just to join us and help out physically. Mostly we take basic food supplies – flour, sugar, oil, tinned food and sometimes clothing and footwear.
Personally I’ve found such trips to be life-changing experiences. Around Christmas 2006 I was part of such a convoy, going to Apuseni Mountains to help the local people living there in the scattered villages across the mountains at altitudes of over 1000m. We stopped at a hamlet which had just five wooden houses and a little wooden church. In one of the houses an 82-year-old man, living by himself, received two sacks of food and he thanked us profusely. The next moment he started crying like a child, I tried to comfort him, to calm him, telling him that he didn’t owe anything then I asked him why he was crying, his answer gave me goosebumps. He said: “This is the happiest day of my life, it is the first time I’ve seen a car parked outside my house.” It transpired that the last time he’d visited the nearest village, 8 km away, in the valley below, had been 30 years previously. In that day I realised that I have everything I need…
After this experience I started organising and guiding 4×4 self drive trips, in Romania, to share my experiences, show this wonderful country off and go way beyond the beaten track.