In 258 days, our resident curmudgeon will be happy in Le Mans

| 22 Sep 2011

Now the sun has set on the Goodwood Revival, I can officially start looking forward to my favourite ever classic event. Yep, the countdown has begun and, as I write this, there are just 258 days to go until the 2012 Le Mans Classic.

This is no slight to Lord March, his team nor the hundreds of other people who work so hard to turn the West Sussex circuit into the slick, magical presentation that is the Goodwood Revival – which was by far my favourite event – but ever since I first attended Le Mans in 2004, there has simply been no better event for me.

Even just digging out the October 2004 issue of Classic & Sports Car where we covered one of our first full-team outings to La Sarthe gives me butterflies because I vividly recall the entire experience – the journey across France, the campsite madness, the searing heat and, of course, the cars.

Okay, so it lacks the theatre of Goodwood’s finest: an attempt at period dress failed badly in France for a number of reasons, tweeds at 30 degrees and camping in a dust-bowl may just be two of them. But the real theatre at Le Mans happens exactly where it always has: on the track.

There is something magical about night racing. Falling asleep to the sound of a Jaguar D-type and waking up to the sound of a Ford GT40 or Porsche 917 is hard to beat, but if you can stay awake between dusk and dawn, you and the select few who are also high on the atmosphere are in for a real treat.

For me, however, what makes the Le Mans Classic really special is that it follows roughly the same remit as 24 Hours Le Mans always has. Car nuts and motor sport enthusiasts travel from all over Europe (and sometimes beyond), to watch the racing. Simple. 

The majority of those who stay, pitch their tents on dry, lumpy ground, queue for too long for a cold shower, drink warm beer and eat whatever they can burn on a BBQ in the shortest amount of time they can muster away from the action.

The similarities with Goodwood – where it is actually the visitors that are most likely to let down the event by turning it into a pastiche with their fake moustaches and Elvis wigs – remain mostly with the cars on track and the queuing traffic en route.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t me having a pop at the Revival, but if I’m already getting twitchy about an event almost 260 days away, then it must be something special.

For once, I am glad that as I get older, time seems to go quicker. Hurry up 2012.

Ed's note: the views expressed in this blog are solely those of a grumpy art bloke and do not necessarily reflect those of the rest of the C&SC team (although we are all looking forward to our biennial, hilarlously chaotic tour to Le Mans).