guess I always had the feeling that 1994 had
to be a good year. After a Tourists
"no-show" in '92 (just Pierre and
myself) and a limited show in '93, the
Tourists were well and truly back on the Le
Mans trail in '94.
were to be 10 of us this year.
The regulars were back again, Ian,
Martin, Alan and myself. Peter
(Pierre) was making his first
"full" Tourists trip.
Although Chris wasn't making his first
trip to Le Mans by any means, it was
his first experience as a
Tourist. (The term having been
coined since my arrival on the Le Mans
scene, I tend to regard it as my own,
so consequently, any trips to Le Mans
prior to 1986 do not carry Tourist
"status"!). Jim was in
a similar position to Chris, in that he
had also been to Le Mans several times
before, but had not yet been initiated
into full Tourists membership!
were two newcomers in 1994, Fred, a
good friend of Pierre, and Nick, a good
friend and work acquaintance of Ian,
who had decided to take the plunge this
year. Those of an academic bent
will have quickly worked out that the
names mentioned thus far add up to only
9. The tenth member of the
Tourists in 1994 was Richard.
I've left Richard until last as it
gives me the perfect opportunity to
embarrass him by posting this picture
of him! Richard had been to Le
Mans with us in 1988 and 1991.
actually been promising Richard that he would
appear on my web site before long and here he
is at last. Richard, you are now
entry list for the race in 1994 was
interesting. Disappointing (to
me) in the sense that the glorious
Toyotas and Peugeots from '92 and '93
were now gone, but it was pleasing to
see the strengthening of the GT field,
following the ACO's initial toe in the
water in 1993. Toyota were back
with their now rather ageing turbo cars
and, incredibly, we still had Porsche
962s in the field. One of the
most intriguing entries was the Gulf
Kremer Porsche K8, in effect an
open-topped 962, to be driven by Robin
Donovan, Jurgen Laessig and Derek Bell
(who was telling everyone who would
listen that this was to be his last Le
also saw two entries which turned out
to be of great significance for the
future, although I doubt that many of
us appreciated it at the time.
The first Chrysler (then Dodge) Vipers
at Le Mans.
trip began in the usual way with a
ferry crossing, this time to Caen.
We took three cars over this year, Ian
and Martin with their BM's and Chris
with his Golf VR6, in which I was a
passenger. Having made a trip to
the Pegasus Bridge (the scene of D-Day
celebrations only a coujple of weeks
before on 6th June), we made our way to
Buais. We were staying at Le
Relais du Bois Leger down the road in
St. Symphorien des Monts, a regular
haunt from the past, although we took
an excellent evening meal at Le
Rotisserie Normande (another one of our
favourite spots) in Buais. (That
was where Richard's photo was taken).
had a really good evening (despite Alan
feeling a little out of sorts), meeting up
again with M. "Le Bigot" and his
wife, who had (I think) passed on their
restaurant to another member of the
family. (I don't really know what
Monsieur's name was. He was always
referred to as M. "Le Bigot", but I
don't know why and I don't know if that is
how it should have been
our meal, Monsieur insisted on us all
returning to his "new" house down
the road. He had been building it for
years and it was finally finished. We
were treated to a tour of the house followed
by champagne. I don't know if I ought
to mention that Ian disgraced himself by
falling asleep? No, perhaps I'd better
finally getting to bed around 2 am we made
the journey on Saturday morning from St.
Symphorien to Le Grand Luce. Regular
readers will know that the Hotel Restaurant
Le Cheval Blanc in Le Grand Luce has become
another haunt, but in 1994 I was making my
first visit. After a beer or two, it
was off to the circuit. The weather was
looking very good and it was out with the sun
hats and sun cream (even a pair of shorts for
managed to grab ourselves a pretty good spot
on the tribunes opposite the pits, from where
we were able to watch the real action of the
24 Hours (i.e. the arrival on the
start/finish straight of the Hawaiian Tropic
girls!) and, of course, from where I was able
to get one or two good shots of cars and
always found it somewhat ironic that the ACO
allowed the man who did so much harm to
sportscar racing to start the greatest sports
car race of them all.
needing too much help from Monsieur Balestre,
the ACO soon had the 1994 24 Hours of Le Mans
under way in the brilliant sunshine.
After watching the race from the tribunes for
an hour or so, the heat soon got to us so it
was time for a walk down to the Ford Chicane
for a few beers.
of course, was the year of the
"imposter" GT's, as I took to
calling them. I am referring of course
to the two Dauer Porsches. Later
experts would decry the involvement of the
GT1 cars from Nissan, Mercedes, Porsche and
others, but, to my mind, the ACO's acceptance
of the entry of these two cars was by far a
worse decision. The cars were
effectively Porsche 962s and although they
had to run on less rubber and with other
modifications to bring them within the GT1
class rules, there is no doubt that if they
were within the terms of the rule book, they
were certainly outside the spirit of it.
usual, we had a good wander around the
circuit and down to the Esses and Tertre
Rouge before heading off for the Mulsanne.
We parked up in the usual field and headed
off to watch the cars over the fences at the
Restaurant des 24 Heures. Only this
time, when we got there, we found we didn't
have to do our customary "perching"
on tables and lumps of concrete.
Instead, we walked into the restaurant (which
was very quiet indeed), straight out of their
front door into the area in front of the
restaurant, separated from the track by just
the triple-layer armco and a very flimsy
wasn't a gendarme in sight (very unusual) and
we must have spent about an hour here (much
longer than we had originally
intended). I was able to get some quite
a little reluctance (actually quite a lot on
my part!), we finally dragged ourselves away
from this fantastic vantage-point to go and
eat. Once again, we took an excellent
evening meal at Le Belinois at Monce en Belin.
that, it was back to the circuit as usual, to
see how the battle between the Toyotas and
the imposter Porsches was getting on.
It was looking quite good at this time for
the Toyotas, with the Irvine/Martini/Krosnoff
car gaining a full lap advantage by 5
am. The guys were very fired up to win
the race after the recent death of SARD team
mate Roland Ratzenberger at that horrific
Imola weekend, but eventually their efforts
proved to be good enough only for a
last-minute second place, hard-earned by a
charging Eddie Irvine. I have to say
that the win by the Baldi/Dalmas/Heywood
Porsche left a bitter taste in the mouths of
most of the Tourists.
had my usual stint during the night and
wandered around Tertre Rouge, The Esses,
Dunlop and the Tribunes, while the others
grabbed a few hours of shut-eye back at Le
the Sunday I was picked up by Ian and taken
back to Le Grand Luce for breakfast, before
we returned to the circuit at Indianapolis
and Arnage. I still soldiered on with
my camera while some of those around me slept
again on the banking there.
the afternoon drew on and the leading Toyota
suffered it's heartbreaking gear linkage
problem, we headed back to the garages to see
out the last hour or so of the race.
the end of the race, we made our way from the
circuit and drove to our Sunday evening port
of call at Concale (near St. Malo). We
were staying at another place we had
frequented several times, the Hotel
Continental, where incidentally, the hotelier
spoke excellent English. It was here
that I disgraced myself by literally falling
asleep at the table over my main
course! Well, I hadn't slept at all
since Friday night! It was a shame
though, the food was very good - great
seafood if you like it!
Monday we spent a few hours down in the
museum on Utah Beach, before heading back to
Cherbourg for our return trip to Blighty.
(Poole on this occasion). Leaving the
result of the race completely aside, '94 was
a really good year. Great company,
super weather, all in all, a very good trip.