And, while a lowly C1 may not be the most prestigious or fastest competition car ever built, proof that it’s the racing, not the machine that counts is what attracts everyone from gangs of mates on a shoestring to experienced, affluent drivers moonlighting from GT3 and top-flight historic series. All this becomes clear as I start my first stint as one of four drivers in the C1 Racing Club’s own car. I’ve done about three laps in daylight but, by the time I strap in, Spa is brooding under a silvery, moonlit sky.
As I merge onto the Kemmel Straight I’m down by about 20mph on the pack of cars who’ve carried their speed through Eau Rouge. And I’m basically trying to keep out of their way until I can pick up momentum on the downhill return. It’s chaos, C1s circulating in packs, locked in private battles, while mad bike-engined, Citroën-based prototypes scythe their way through and everyone dodging the slow-moving regular 2CVs, trundling along gamely at half the pace of everyone else.
It’s not unusual to have a pack of a dozen cars of wildly different speeds all converging on one corner, lights dazzling you in the mirrors as you try and second guess whether you’re overtaking or being overtaken. Somehow it works and you get a few seconds to catch breath before you have to do it all again. And, modest power or not, by the time you reach the fearsome downhill left-hander at Pouhon you’ll be doing 90mph-plus and sliding sideways as the budget Nankang tyres start to let go.