Imposters every one. None had a proper ticket for the air-conditioned press tribuneLe Mans Classic. More like a motor racing Glastonbury than Garden Party Goodwood. The press service was well-meaning rather than effective. Took a long time to get accreditation because they wanted professional insurance of some sort and when we got to the Circuit de la Sarthe they had very nice well-mannered gels, very polite, very French, very pretty and totally unhelpful. It was very hot, 40 degrees, and it would have been nice if my number one daughter had been given some sort of paddock pass so she could carry my camera bag. At my age you need somebody to do that, but no it was impossible. What about a car pass to get us around on the infield? No that was impossible too.
In the event it scarcely mattered. Forty years of blagging into places where officials don’t want you to go, got us pretty well everywhere we wanted. It helped having BMW’s Z8, which meant we could park it at the BMW Classic exhibition tent. It also helped that number one daughter has big eyes, which distracted officials sufficiently when I mumbled (in Englishy French – it might as well have been Gaelic) that mamselle was with me and waved my enamel badge on a string.
Camped at Maison Blanche, well I say camped, number one son Craig had brought a camper van, which was a help although the queues at the shower block and half a dozen loos for a very large car park, mostly full of Brits, was more Pop Festival than Glorious Goodwood.
I always liked Le Mans. It was one place I thought I’d go back to as a spectator when I stopped covering Le Vingt Quatres Heures. I did this mostly between 1965 and 1985 and even went to the French Grand Prix (2 July 1967, Bugatti Circuit, Le Mans if you are interested) to see Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme win in Brabham Repcos from Jackie Stewart in a V8 BRM and Jo Siffert in a V12 Cooper Maserati. The caravan site looked like a loop of the Bugatti circuit, which was never used for a French Grand Prix again although Le Mans likes to think of itself as the birthplace of French motor racing. OK the first grand prix ever took place there in 1906 but it really is now a bit of a circus that takes itself much too seriously.
Ah well. The Le Mans Classic was fine really, with lots of swarthy rich people in Ferraris driving rather badly and masses of worthy clubs from the UK, Triumphs, MGs, Jaguars all having a wonderful time. The enthusiasm people show for classic cars is quite touching. They’ll chat uninhibitedly in the queue for the loo about how they fell in love with their first TR2 in 1955 and isn’t it nice the way you can drive along with your arm overhanging the door. Nostalgia is exactly how it used to be. Any TR2 driver will tell you to get the revs at two-five for the little crackle noise in the exhaust.