The French way


I feel that with the advent of 1992 and all that, it’s time we took a hint from the French. They have an organisation called the VEC which is, I believe, a fairly direct equivalent to the VSCC. They have the usual big events, for example at Montlhery not very long ago, but I think the best thing is the small-town racing spirit that flourishes there. To take an example of what happens all over France in the summer months, you could have gone to a pretty little medieaval village called Mortemart, near Limoges, and paid a few quid to get into the enclosure. The racing was held on a sprint track improvised around a series of bends in the village, a straight leading to a tiny hamlet, followed by a straw-bale chicane, leading to a tight bend, running from there straight uphill to the finish. There was an ingenious paddock system which ran around the back streets (along which you could walk, examine the cars and chat to the drivers) It was an excellent circuit, with viewing enclosure all along the best bits, from the start to the finish. The field was superb; some were road cars, driven very civilly; a 427 Cobra and a Lancia Zagato. Others were out-and-out race-prepared and were driven as such; an Alfa Romeo GTA, the ubiquitous (for France) Alpine A110s, one of which, heavily modified (and extremely fast) won the whole event, two quick and well driven Martinis, a Porsche 356A, three Cooper S’s, Lotus 11s and 23s, a battered but beautiful HWM-Jaguar, a boat-tailed 1950s Le Mans Constantin Peugeot and plenty of interesting little period single-seaters. It was really good, and informal, the epitome of DSJ’s letter (Sept. issue). But this was nothing more than a normally sleepy village in the middle of nowhere.

Why can’t people do this sort of thing in England? True, we have many more serviceable race tracks than the French, and the average English village dweller is probably too much of an old woman to let this go on, not being possessed of much Latin temperament. But who knows, maybe the Archers’ Ambridge may, one summer, be invaded by the glorious noise of an unsilenced Alpine going for a “flyer” or similar. We can but hope.

Michael Jardine, Bengeo, Herts.