If 1986 saw
my introduction to the delights of the 24 Heures du Mans, 1987 showed me that Le
Mans can also have another side to it!
my first visit, it wasn't a matter of deciding whether I wanted to back again
the following year, it was more a case of wondering how I was going to be able
to wait that long! I get that feeling at about 4.05 p.m. on every Sunday
afternoon at Le Mans, just after the race has finished, and I guess there must
be others out there who feel the same.
again, Ian marshalled the Tourists for 1987 in his inimitable way and the
other 7 members of the team are shown below. As usual, the 8th member,
yours truly, was behind the camera instead of in front of it. Ian, Robert
and Alan were back for more (1st, 3rd and 4th from the left), and were joined by
(L-R) Ian T. , Martin, Ben and Peter.
picture actually shows the Tourists at Ernée, where we
stopped on our drive away from the circuit on the Sunday.
the prime lure for the Brits was the TWR Jaguar team, fresh from a 100% winning
record in the World Sportscar Championship (or whatever it happened to be called
at that time!). I was lucky enough to have been at Silverstone for the 1-2
result in the 1000kms, and was by now a real convert to sports car racing.
again travelled over to Cherbourg on the Friday morning, although, ironically,
our Friday night stopover was at Aunay sur Odon, just a stone's throw from
Our game plan was much the same as in 1986, but the most worrying aspect of our
arrival at Le Mans was the rain!
father was the first member of my family to go to the race, and he went just the
once. As it happened, he picked 1970 - the year of the rain and the
filming of the Steve McQueen epic. He had described to me what it had been
like and, with no wet-weather gear at all with me (ever the optimist!), I had my
fingers very tightly crossed!
the rain was short-lived and, as expected, developed into a battle between
Porsche and Jaguar. Despite Martin Brundle's efforts, however, the Jaguars
failed again, and Bell, Holbert and Stuck cruised to an easy victory.
I made the most of the night, only retiring for an hour or two's kip under the
car after we had taken our dinner our at the Restaurant des Vingt-Quatre
Heures. I did wake everyone else up though, when I heard of Win
Percy's massive accident on the Mulsanne.
earlier that the 1987 race showed me that there was another side to Le
Mans. After my brief sleep, I woke up and went for a wander around the
tribunes. Before too long I was suffering from a severe stomach
ache. It got worse and worse as the morning wore on and was only partly
eased when I managed to find a vaguely sanitary loo out at the restaurant near
the Mulsanne Kink (I could never remember what it is called - any
The rest of the day was pretty miserable
for me, suffering as I was from what was obviously some kind of food
poisoning, and I
actually left the circuit before the end of the race, deciding instead to sit in
the car and listen to the finish courtesy of Radio Le Mans. This
was, of course, the first year of Radio Le Mans - and what would we do
Sunday evening we stayed at St. Symphorien again and I passed on dinner and
instead slept from 6.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. Fortunately, I felt a great deal
better in the morning.
I tend to think of Le Mans 1987 as my "green" year, as I felt pretty
green for quite a lot of it. But would that experience be enough to keep
me away the following year......?