Le Mans Classic 2014: red trousers, Chad McQueen and overpriced sausages

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Author: Martin PortPublished:

With another Le Mans Classic under my belt, it’s only right that once again I write about how much I love it. But this year there was just the merest hint of a sour aftertaste lingering on the back of my tongue… but why? And no, it wasn’t anything to do with the €8 keg of red we bought in the hypermarché either.

The journey down was fantastic: temperatures pushing 30 degrees and for the most part not a cloud in the sky. Even when it did finally shower in an attempt to break the humidity it served to just cool the driver rather than soak everything packed in the back of the Land-Rover and as a result, this ginger-haired bonce is a little pinker than when we left Portsmouth on the ferry to St Malo.

We had a great bunch of readers with us too, and the C&SC convoy of Land-Rover, MG 1300, Interceptor, MGB and GSA was embellished by the presence of a Dodge Polara, TR6, Mustang GT350, a brace of T1 Bentleys and an Alfa GTV.

Le Mans Classic 2014

Once the breakdown-free journey was complete, we pitched tents in a slightly segregated area which boasted round the clock security, hot showers, toilets with toilet roll included, a bar serving cold lager, room temperature ale and a decent cider while the lucky ones who had thought to book in advance enjoyed a full English in the mornings to boot!

Still trying to work out where that bitter aftertaste is coming from? We’ll get there…

On track the racing was as fantastic as ever and the freedom to wander through the paddocks is always an absolute joy – even the weather which included several ‘damp’ moments didn’t ruin things, although the presence of a safety car for pretty much the entire night outing of the 917s et al was a little disappointing and prompted an earlier night/morning than in the past.

Le Mans Classic 2014

I even managed to make sure I walked away with my Le Mans Classic commemorative plastic cup thanks to Mr Elliott refusing to drink out of something that digital editor MacLeman had previously put to his lips, all of which means I now boast three of these much sought after (by me) €1 vessels in our glasses cabinet, much to the (only slight) annoyance of Mrs P.

Le Mans Classic 2014

Oh, and I took my first ever ‘selfie’ – very sad and pretty desperate but if you suddenly find yourself talking to Chad McQueen while at the race track that his father made one of the most iconic racing films of all time at, then surely it would have been rude not to? Oh well, it’s done now!

Le Mans Classic 2014

So where is the downside to all of this, I hear you asking?  Well, here we go:

1. The shed that we used to buy a 'reasonably' priced sausage and chips from near the Dunlop bridge is no longer there.

2. Due to some poor timing (ie wanting to eat at around lunch time), we queued for 70 minutes to buy a burger and chips that was sub-Wimpey standard and paid €15 for the privilege. 

3. There are too many people wearing red trousers (ie more than zero) – was this the year that it started to become the French Goodwood Revival or will it remain a largely Veuve Clicqot-free event?

4. The zip on my waterproof jacket broke.

5. The wipers broke on my Land-Rover until I wiggled the fuse and then they started working again.

Le Mans Classic 2014

Now hopefully you can see where that sour aftertaste came from? Admittedly, people might be struggling to feed their kids in some parts of the world, but there’s still no excuse for red trousers and I really liked my waterproof jacket, but perhaps the biggest reason for my dissatisfaction from this year’s trip to Le Mans is that my Land-Rover is too tall and as a result I was last on and last off the ferry. Now I don’t mind a queue – well, that’s a lie, but I’ll tolerate one if it’s worth it. Unfortunately though I had ‘loading envy’ as I watched the sub-Transit sized classics trundle happily onto the ferry in one happy convoy, while I was left staring at the arse end of a German motorhome. Grrr.  Oh, and don’t even get me started on the unloading procedure at Portsmouth on the way back. Next time I’m taking a small car, which leads me neatly on to my next blog.

Le Mans Classic 2014

Watch this space…

 

 

Comments

jagnut12

Brilliant story Martin

andrewivey

Not sure how to take your comment about trousers, as I sit here wearing................?
BUT I thoroughly agree that some of the undeniable joy of the event was lost to very expensive and limited catering.
The late start to the real racing, brought about by far too many paying circuit laps, was another real downside to this year's Classic and left many enthusiasts feeling short-changed.
Do tell us about that MG 1300,painted Blue Royale if I am not mistaken. I drove one that colour in the Seventies and have fond memories.

jasper3934

Spot on Martin please oh pretty please do NOT go the Goodwood route I could not handle the over bearing smell of corporate plastic and over blown posing. Please note this the prats who stayed at the Arnage Campanile and thought they were God's gift revving the ******** off their precious modern Ferraris to wake the hotel as they "warmed them up". To those and their ilk just go away and play elsewhere and leave this meeting to those who actually" get it"

Headercase

Nice write up, and I agree with all your points, especially the proliferation of red trousers. Always seems to herald the arrival of the corporates. Shame you didnt have the catering booked, nothing beats a cooked breakfast served by smiley staff when you've spent the night is a tent. I must say that the 1st Tickets staff did a great job, and although a bit steep by UK prices, the beers served in the marquee were most welcome, even London Pride!
Altogether a really enjoyable trip, despite the weather!

...we did notice you were still in the dockside queue when we were enjoying a late lunch in the restaurant on deck 8!

Martin Port

Ah, so it was YOU pointing and laughing while tucking into your steak and frites?!

Art Editor, C&SC

Headercase

too polite to point, and it was only a little chuckle..

rsk289

Yes, it was a good trip this year. Went over in the trusty '68 Mustang fastback (it's so nice sitting on the right (no, left) side of the car for once! The Ferrari (I like to think of them as 'Smiths' in translation) crowd will pay the price in camshaft, crank, bore wear etc. of such pointless behaviour, although that'll probably be down to the next owner. The only downside of the trip for us was the minor irritation of drunken pillocks stepping out into the road at Arnage and insisting we rev the big-block Ford. Ah well.
A tip - on the way into the circuit we stop at an Intermarché to pick up cheese, baguette, fruit, wine etc. etc. so we don't have to pay the high prices (but most of all) or join the interminably slow-moving queues.
A delightful blast up to Sées with the 289 Register on the way home completed a great trip. Roll on 2016.

1969GT

Great write up Martin,we too have memories of  a "Red Trousers" tale!  (not me).
We are going over on the next trip.Kind regards P. ......................I visited you and nearly bought that Blue Scimitar!!!

Zagato

Cracking stuff Martin. What is it about red trousers though? Why have they suddenly become like the toff equivalent of the chav's Burberry cap? Is it just more fashionable now to scorn the rich than the poor? Or are they really only worn by aspirational dimwits? I believe there are even Bookface pages devoted to this topic, including one called 'Look At My F***ing Red Trousers!' Personally, I have always shied away from red clothing of any kind. No need to shout, is there?

Zagato

lowdrag

I spent five weeks planning the trip for Chad and never even met him in the end! But that is by the by; the Le Mans Classic is now getting to a point that even though I live but 6 miles from the circuit I am not sure I'll be doing it next time. I left the circuit on Saturday morning, after picking up photographer's bib, visiting paddocks, etc. at 11.20am and was directed onto the ring road, not the way I would usually go home. I felt so sorry for those queuing for hours to get to the circuit, cars at the roadside and boiling over, and even though we were going away from the circuit it still took exactly two hours to cover the distance. A friend paid nearly £20,000 to enter two cars, park trailers, park his motorhome, pay for fuel in advance from the ACO (naturally at THREE EUROS a litre) yet no right to a refund when it wasn't used. Looking at the accident rate and those that didn't go out in the night due to appalling conditions I reckon the ACO made a pretty packet there.

Frankly, I'll remember the early days of 2002-2008 with fondness, but it is now all about money, not passion. "Increase the history of your car for the next time you sell it sir? That'll be £10,000 entry please." This event is no longer for Mr. Average, but Mr. Wealthy. I think that the Spa 6 Hours is calling.

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