In 2008 together with a group of some 24 Dutch Alfisti I attended the Le Mans Classic event. Staying in a hotel in Nogent-le-Rotrou, in the Eure-et-Loire district, we had to travel some 80 kilometers to and from the Le Mans race track. That was not a drawback at all, the trip led us trough the scenery of the Sarthe district, which is very charming with smooth hillsides and sleepy villages.
Unlike the ‘real’ 24 hours of Le Mans the races of the Classic do not last a full day and night. The different classes or ‘grids’ start in turns and race three times, in the daylight and in the dark. Those grids are: Grid 1 (1923/1939) – Grid 2 (1949/1956) – Grid 3 (1957/1961) – Grid 4 (1962/1965) – Grid 5 (1966/1971) – Grid 6 (1972/1979).
No misunderstanding, despite their age and value most cars are pushed hard to very hard and what can be seen from the stands is serious racing, and certainly not a dull parade. Note that also a lot of the drivers are rather ‘vintage’.
The public has access to the paddocks where it can watch the cars from close by and see mechanics in their own race; a race against the clock to get the car ready for the next start. The number of race cars, their racing history, their rareness and value, it’s overwhelming. This is the place where the motor sports icons and heroes from one’s youth become tangible.
Around the track, members from classic car clubs park their four wheeled treasure side by side (registration in advance required), so the visitor can walk from one field full of Lotuses, to another with filled with Ferraris or Porches to one with all classic Alfa Romeos. Next Le Mans Classic is 2014 (see event calendar).