usual, our trip began at the home of
Chief Tourist Ian. There were 10 of us
on board this year, 7 of whom (Ian, Alan,
Martin, Robert, Chris, Bruce and myself) had
been to Le Mans before. Paul, Howard
and Simon were the newcomers. Our
choice of transport this year was quite a
departure. It was becoming so expensive
to take 2 or 3 cars over that Ian had decided
to borrow a minibus!
weekend started out ominously in pouring rain
as we made our way to Portsmouth on Thursday
evening for the crossing to Caen, but we were
cheered tremendously by the sunshine which
greeted us when we left the ferry in
Ouistreham on Friday morning.
stopping for breakfast on route, we arrived
in the garage rouge at about 11.30 and headed
down into the Village. After pausing
for a quick look at the scene down in the
pits from the top of the Welcome building, we
made our way towards the throng in the
pitlane - just as the rain
rain shows didn't stop my wandering up and
down the pitlane, however, after snapping
most of the pits, I had to give best to
it. I also had to give up the idea of a
reasonable amount of video footage, as I
couldn't risk getting my friend Graham's
fancy video camera soaked!
as the rain eased, I left the pitlane and
spent some time up in the pits grandstand,
wondering just how good the view is from the
seats there during the race?
long after this I left the pits and paddock
to meet up with the rest of the rather
bedraggled crew of Tourists just down from
the Welcome area where we drowned our sorrows
with a beer.
was pressing on and having eaten nothing
since breakfast near Le Havre, we decided to
head on to Le Grand LucÚ, where we were
again staying at Le
In fact, although we ate in Le Grand Luce, we
did so at a restaurant just up the road, Le
We didn't leave the restaurant until about 4
o'clock - with the prospect of another heavy
meal in about 3 hours time!
finally reached Le
and got some rooms sorted out. Having
had very little sleep overnight on
Thursday/Friday, it was agreed that we would
all go for a couple of hours of shut-eye,
although I have up after an hour or so and
went for a walk around the town. I
wasn't at all surprised to find Martin,
Bruce, Howard and Paul in one of the local
bars indulging in a few beers and a few games
of table football!
hour or so later, the whole team surfaced out
back of the hotel in the car park and
indulged in the annual
Le Cheval Blanc Old Boys
football match. Just to get us all in
the right mood for dinner!
though we had eaten only a few hours
before, it was time to head off for
more food at Le
at Monde en Belin, one of our most
the restaurant is located quite near Arnage, we stopped off on the
circuit there to wander along the
track and have a good
laugh at the drivers intent on
leaving a substantial part of their
tyre treads in this part of France!
meal that evening at Le
was superb, as good as anything I've
ever eaten in France and the service
too was exceptional.
finish the evening off in style we
popped back to Arnage to soak up a
bit more of the eve of race
atmosphere before returning to Le
Grand LucÚ for the essential last calvados and bed.
were one or two weary faces at
breakfast the following morning, but
at least we didn't have to rush too
much. That said, Chris, Ian and
I were all intent upon reaching the
circuit by 10.15 that morning to
watch the Legends race and staying at
Le Grand LucÚ gave us the chance to
get to the circuit earlier than we
had ever managed on race day.
our arrival, the weather didn't look
too bad, but we were expecting the
worst and took our wet-weather gear
with us. Chris and I decided to
strike out to watch the Legends race
from the Esses, while the rest made
their way to the tribunes.
and I thoroughly enjoyed our stint at
the Esses watching those glorious old
cars, well entertained by Hardman's
tail-out slides, a dying Ferrari, a
wheel-shedding Alpine and Stirling's
the race Chris and I made our way back
to the Village, where we indulged in
the first Grand Marnier crepes of the
weekend. Eventually we set up
camp just outside the Welcome area, to
wait the arrival of the others.
a short while Robert and Paul appeared
to tell us that Ian had managed to
stake a claim to a very nice spot on
the tribunes for the start of the
race. Before we could move off
though, we were graced by the arrival
of the lovely MG ladies. Paul,
Robert (and Chris) couldn't resist in a
spot of posing - and why is it always
me behind the camera?!!
eventually dragged the three of them
away from the girls and we set off to
find Ian and the other 5
Tourists. Ian had indeed managed
to get a good spot and all 10 of us
made ourselves very welcome
there! We watched the
"pretty people" in the pit
road and then the obligatory appearance
of the Hawaiian Tropic girls, before
the driver parade got under way.
The good vantage-point enabled me to
get some quite good shots of the
drivers as they passed by.
weather was looking pretty ominous by
now, with drizzly showers hitting us
every 15 minutes or so. But even
this couldn't dampen my spirits before
my 16th Le Mans 24 Hours.