We must have been one of the first groups of campers arriving at the Spa Classic on Thursday (yesterday) evening, fresh from an invigorating drive over from the UK in our borrowed 1980s coupes, the mighty BMW M635 CSi and rumbustious Ford Capri 280.
Suitably bursting with ’80s tin-top fever, we pitched our tents in a pleasant grassy field with a view towards the famous Raidillon Curve and idly wondered about the chances of blagging a photo-opportunity with our cars at the top of it; the view back down the hill over Eau Rouge and the old pit complex being nothing short of spectacular.
And then a car trundled over the empty campsite towards us, and the general manager of the Spa Circuit jumped out to introduce himself to the GRR team. His name is Pierre-Alain Thibaut (pic right), former Belgian Touring Car champion and a fellow member of our very own Goodwood Road Racing Club.
PAT (as he was fondly known ‘in period’) is a committed historic racer now, and has driven at a few Goodwood events including the 73rd Members’ Meeting in March where you might have spotted him piloting the 3.0 ‘Belga’ Capri.
In the 1980s his drives included a Rover Vitesse for TWR, and a fourth place at the Spa 24hrs in a BMW 635i entered by Juma Racing. We showed him our two chariots and something in the stars must have aligned…
Which is how we suddenly found ourselves on the hallowed tarmac of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit at dusk, driving a couple of impromptu ‘tourist laps’ in the BMW and Capri. For non-racers like us at the Spa Classic, the fever doesn’t run any higher!
We’ll catch up PAT later, as he’s racing at the Spa Classic in a beautifully prepared BMW CSL that he’s sharing with Eric Mestdagh in the Historic Touring Car Category and it’s a car we’re hoping to feature from this weekend’s event.
We’ll tell you more about our own rides when we’ve brought them home…
Photography: Tom Shaxson