“The ability to be on the edge, to get better and better and prove yourself,” he emphasises, “there’s a constant need to learn and find more speed. It’s exciting, it’s fun!”
Progress was swift as the former morsel-magnate became a single-seater rookie in his early 50s. Bastien first raced in Skip Barber’s own championship, competing against some opponents of real pedigree – including future Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi.
From there Bastien switched to the Pro Mazda series, racking up the racing miles. However, age-related physical factors forced a migration to a new category.
“In the end in Pro Mazda, I was going into some corners with such g-forces that I realised I needed to find something new in my life!” Bastien recalls. “Your neck, shoulders and so on take a real beating.”
The French-American decided on a switch to endurance racing.
“I moved to sportscars and I went to Germany. I did nothing but the Nürburgring for three years.
“First I learned the track, then I twice did the Nürburgring 24hrs race with the Audi Race Experience, finishing both times.
“And then I went on to do the 24 Hour Series which I’ve been doing for the last three years.”
Bastien relishes the challenge and variety of sportscar racing.
“It’s the whole experience; the cars themselves are fantastic. You also have the traffic, you have the night, you have this going over 24 hours.
“Lots of tracks: Monza, Portimao, Hockenheim etc. Endurance racing has more diversity to it, more things to learn, more fun to have in more ways!”
The gentleman racer continued to defy convention by improving further still, gaining two wins in the series this year. This upward trend in performance gave him an idea.
Bastien had considered taking a punt at Le Mans before in 2015, but admits he ultimately found the depth and quality of the field too intimidating to enter. Five years later and things have changed.
“I was at Monza (this year) with my team-mate Gavin Pickering. We were within a few tenths of him the whole weekend, and he’s a well-respected driver. He did Le Mans for many years, in GTs and LMP2s.
“So it came into my mind ‘Why not?’”