Nick Brooks' trip to Le Mans
Nick and his son Charlie (recently married) made the trip to Le Mans again this year - read his account below.
OUR 750 MILE TRIP TO THE LE MANS CLASSIC
It's always a great trip, excitement building all the way, and this is the third time that my trusty TR4 has travelled down there and back to the Classic event which is every two years. We have done 2010, 2012 and now 2016. As you can see if you miss one you have to wait another 4 years!
As they say preparation is everything, and many hours are spent making sure that the car is fully serviced and checked over for any leaks or knocks. This year the rear shockers were replaced, the gearbox mounting (with Julian's kind help) and the front brake pads changed at the last minute. I always like to think that if the servicing is done, we have all the right tools and spares on board for anything that can be replaced at the roadside, we should be OK. If you haven't done all these things you'll break down! After all the cars are now over 50 years old.
This year we took the ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg arriving at lunchtime. It's about 150 miles to Le Mans from Cherbourg, the roads are great – little traffic, in good repair, and often as straight as an arrow, so enormous fun in a TR. As usual we joined up with a friend in a 3A, driving down together. We stopped en route for coffee and then lunch and fuel, arriving at Le Mans circuit at about 9pm. The TSSC campsite is well organised with great facilities and is situated near the famous Dunlop Bridge, meaning that you can walk over and be in the 'Village' and all the other circuit activities relatively quickly.
Providing you have the right tickets, Le Mans is 'access all areas' which means you can visit the paddocks and pit lane day and night. Watching the 24 hour racing with a beer in your hand by the side of the track in the early hours of the morning is quite something! There are several car groups or 'grids' which compete and these range from cars of the 1930s to those of the 80s, and this year we were treated to a trio of TR3s all of which did well.
Off circuit, the local Arnage village is good fun with several roadside cafes and bars from which you can observe even more classic machinery go by. As in the past we made our pilgrimage to Chartres sur loire for a meal one evening. It's where the Bentley and then Jaguar teams stayed in years gone by and has all the memorabilia to show for it. It was packed out this year with the 50th anniversary of the GT40 winning Le Mans, so it was busy!
Monday morning is 'pack-up' time, but we left on the Sunday evening for a hotel night of relative luxury after camping before we headed home. The drive back is equally good, taking in the French towns and scenery on the way, and those lovely straight Roman roads where you can see for miles ahead.
There were few incidents – the speedo stopped working (right angle drive?) and some of the lights went out when we went flying after not noticing quite a high speed ramp!
All in all a great trip, much recommended. You certainly know when you're back in Britain as you encounter dense traffic soon after leaving the ferry port, and your first pothole!