My first race -- by Eric van de Poele

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Renault 12, Zolder,1979

My dad was selling his old road car, a Renault 12, and I bought it from him for something like 7500 Belgian francs. We took everything off the car to make it as light as possible: no rollcage or any modifications at all. We didn’t have any spare wheels; in fact, we went to the local farm and took some tyres that we found on top of a haystack.

The first race we did was a round of what we now call Belcar. It was a long-distance race, six hours, I think, which meant I could share the cost of racing with a couple of friends. We were so worried about someone stealing our lovely car that a couple of us slept in it overnight. I can’t remember where we came, but I do remember that it was the only race I did that year.The third event we did with that car was the Zolder 24 Hours. I broke my ankle playing basketball on the Friday so my father took my place.

 …and my last race — Le Mans Endurance Series, Nürburgring, 2005

My old friend Fredy Lienhard had to go into hospital for a back operation, so I got a late call to partner Didier Theys in the Horag Judd-engined Lola B05/40 LMP2 car. Luckily it’s only a short trip from my home in Belgium to the Nürburgring. It was pretty close with the Paul Belmondo Racing Courage towards the end, but I think they were in for a surprise as we didn’t have to change tyres at the last pitstop. I’m sure we would have won the class anyway, but they ended up having a suspension problem. —  GW