I have a dreadful confession to make. Despite being involved with cars and motorsport for 26 years I have never been to Le Mans. There. I said it.
Finally I’ve made it here for the Classic and, predictably, I’m wondering what it is I could have been doing in previous years which has meant that I’ve missed it. However, it isn’t like other such events. Driving along the Mulsanne straight (or at least most of it) this morning before it was closed for the qualifying sessions I learned first-hand just how vast this place is, and what kind of commitment would be needed to make it out to the further reaches of the circuit.
Monaco is a tricky place at which to change vantage points, but it’s a doddle compared to Le Mans. But it’s the vastness of the place, the combination of closed-course and public road, and the massive organisation required to make the event happen that sets the Le Sarthe circuit apart.
In terms of cars, think Le Mans favourites like the Porsche 917k, Ferrari 312P, Alfa Romeo 33 TT-3, and Lola T70, and some more road-based machinery like Porsche 935s, Ferrari 512s, BMW M1s, Corvettes and so on. Then mix in the Goodwood Revival with vintage Bugattis, GT40s, C, D, and E-Types and such like. The good stuff.
Of course, there is another aspect of the Le Mans Classic which sets it apart, and that’s the fact that today’s practise and qualifying sessions are going to run until around 0240, and the last two sessions we’re planning to watch (admittedly somewhat fatigued, and somewhere near our tents!) feature the cars mentioned above.
We’re not sure yet when we’re supposed to sleep, but the anticipation of some of those cars blasting past us at night is enough for us not to care one jot.
Photography: Richard Pardon and Chris McEvoy