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A South African who went to Pau and a Dutchman who went to Spa. Their trips took roughly the same time.

South African David Pearson had a tough decision to make 26 years ago: “Would my 1979 odyssey be Monaco or Pau ? Both were a long way from South Africa but to take in a circuit, cars and drivers I had not seen before meant it had to be Pau. It would also be much cheaper.” So David flew to Europe and got the train overnight from Brussels via Paris to Southern France to see the Formula Two Championship contenders racing through the streets.  Also staying at the hotel was Chevron driver Patrick Gaillard, who offered him a paddock pass “not that it was essential to have one. The sight and sound of modern race cars twitching round over public roads, between walls, houses and under bridges was unforgettable. I was told some of the Brit mechanics felt poorly in the heat, but on race morning they were squelching through mud after a flood.”  Some of his photos….

 

– Bobby Rahal crashed pretty Chevron out of the race. 

– Youthful Derek Walker did same in Theodore March.

– Rory Byrne (in car) engineered fellow South African Rad Dougall’s Toleman Ralt RT — he talks to designer Ron Tauranac.

– Stephen South leads Siegfried Stohr, who took second.

– Winner Eddie Cheever heads Gaillard into Parc Beaumont.

– Stohr was hairy enough in dry qualifying, let alone wet race. 

– Rahal looking every bit the up-and-coming young gun.

 

***

 

Yes, it has always rained at Spa.  Dutchman Jan Mulder had his first taste of the ‘fickle Ardennes climate’ when, aged 18, he went on an unfeasably tortuous trek of the 1965 Belgian Grand Prix with his local organisation of young car enthusiasts. “Although Spa is only 200 miles from where I lived, it took us nearly 12 hours to get there,” he recounts.  “We left at four o’clock am, cycled for two hours to get to the coach, the coach had to pick up people from several places in the Netherlands, we got lost in Liège, but fortunately we arrived just in time to see the 3.30pm start. “It would have been quicker to cycle all the way, surely… Still, he adds “The rain added some extra flavour to the event. The journey home took us twelve hours again — that means 27 hours for a double-scotch and water in Belgium!”  Jan also sent us some shots from the 1966 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, but found that access was never as easy in his homeland as it was across the border. And some of his photos… 

 

– Ferraris at Zandvoort in ’66: Bandini retuns to his car, which he’d crashed in qualifying after finding oil, injuring his right hand.  —  Mike Parkes also crashed, but in the race this time.

– Seconds befor the start at Spa.

– Graham Hill’s BRM exits Blanchimont, Spa,  on the way to finishing fifth.

– Frank Gardner presses on at Spa in Willment Brabham-BRM.

– View from the stands of the Lotus and Ferrari pits at the 1966 Dutch Grand Prix.

– Mr Mulder stood on track to snap Ginther taking sixth for Honda.