Where else can you see a Porsche 917 driven by Vern Shcuppan and Dickie Attwood fresh from the race track pass only meters from your feet? Or Derek Bell taking part in the ears of corn running start to a 1929 Blower Bentley or 22 Ferrari 250 GTO’s together? These were just a few of the many very special moments that took place during the Le Mans Classic event.
Our tour started on the promenade at Port Solent, bathed in the evening sun as it slowly set. The vast array of cars participation on our tour attracted passers-by and also the local press who covered the event.
Having arrived into France on the Friday morning it was a pleasant D road drive via a breakfast stop before a very special lunch we had arranged. This took place at the Hotel de France at La Chartre sur le Loir. This hotel has a long running history of motorsport dating back to the 50’s when the Aston Martin team stayed at the hotel. We had blocked off the parking area in the square ready for the arrival of our cars. As the cars started to arrive the atmosphere of years gone by was re-created. A fantastic lunch was had followed by a very special addition we had arranged for Le Mans legend Derek Bell came and greeted our group and gave an impromptu talk exclusively to our guests.
The next adventure to take place was the parade laps on Saturday morning, upon which most of our group took part. The track was a damp and therefore most took great care on the way around the full 24 hour circuit. There were many other groups out on track and we spotted a few spinners on the way round!
The racing commenced at half past three on the Saturday and the range of cars was breath taking, each grid performed the running start ‘a la’ the early days at the Le Mans 24 Hours. We had our particular eye on car number 12 in ‘Plateau 1’ the 1929 Blower Bentley owned and driven by Martin Overington. Martin was taking part in his 3rd Le Mans Classic in his Blower and this time around was joined by Mr Derek Bell as co driver. Derek took the running start this year, something he never did in period! It was a steep learning curve for Derek in the Blower who had only driven the car on the public roads prior to the race.
Unfortunately it was not to be Martin and Derek’s year! After the first race it was discovered that the engine block had cracked and after many efforts to repair it the team had no option to retire the car. Both Derek and Martin hugely enjoyed the experience and there was a lot of fuss around the cars and drivers. This included the Classic Grand Touring clients who had a meet and greet session with the team.
Martin and Derek also had the support of ‘Mission Motorsport’ http://www.missionmotorsport.org/ this hugely worthwhile charity is headed up by Major James Cameron who’s aim is to aid the recovery and rehabilitation of those affected by military operations by providing opportunities through motorsport. Jim assembled team of highly capable and enthusiastic guys who set about the car as soon as they laid eyes on it. You can see the Mission Motor Sport guys at the Silverstone Classic 20-22 July.
Happily the dinner we had organised on the Saturday evening at the circuit took place as Derek and Martin took to the track for their first session. Our dining venue had its own private grandstand overlooking the Ford Chicane so we were able to watch the Bentley come through.
For the rest of the weekend the group were able to come and go as they pleased to our parking area on the Bugatti Circuit, we had a nice marquee and cold refreshments to keep everyone going. We were hugely impressed by the cars that we had in parking area. You can see some here on our facebook page. http://tinyurl.com/cyn2ru2
Not sure how the organisers can top this edition but we will be there in 2014 to find out!