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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Watch this space…