Roel Pollen made a deal with ‘the girls at home’. He really, really, really doesn’t have to share his car hobby with them. And they mean it. Thus Roel and his mates can bugger of to France every two years for ‘their’ Le Mans Classic experience, nothing to worry. 24 Hours of extremely loud racing noises mixed with the aroma of petrol, oil and burning rubber. Oh and a little bit of bbq maybe.
The trip to Le Mans is a party on its own. Even more when you are in the company of a friend who likes to unleash his Aston Martin V8 Vantage Convertible in every single tunnel. My spouse would be so annoyed, despite all of my attempts to convince her and the girls of the appeal my car hobby has to me. As we get nearer to the circuit, the family car to classic car ratio thickens to one on one for sure. We feel like children in a candy store, no doubt about that.Le Mans Classic is best described as an alternative reality within the ten square kilometers surrounding Le Mans, with the epicenter in the historic ‘Circuit de La Sarthe’ itself. A parallel universe where the true car nutter can drown himself in a 24 hour non stop racing world no outsider would ever understand. Maybe it simply isn’t the place to bring wife and children.
For my wife it would be a nightmare to stay on a campsite with nothing but deranged car fanatics and very poor sanitary services. For us, the campsites surrounding the circuit are Walhalla. Packed with the most exotic automobiles. Let me take you on a little tour outside our tent. I get out and stumble upon a red De Tomaso Pantera GTS, on the left there are a yellow GTS and a white GT5S. In front of me I see a TVR Griffith, a Honda NSX, a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow,an orange MGB GT, a Ferrari 355 and four Porsches 911 in between the tents. On my right an Aston Martin V8 Vantage and a Lotus Esprit Turbo, both from the early eighties. On a few meters a Mercedes 450 SL, a Triumph TR8 and even two Jensen Int
Lounging on the campsite, you would almost forget why you came to Le Mans in the first place. Like the enticing song of Sirens the loudening sound of engines roaring lure us to the entrance of the circuit. Once there, things get even more unreal. Monumental museum pieces and car porn you only remember from magazines or the ridiculous high prices at auction, fly by side by side like it is the most common thing on the planet. In six different Plateau’s cars form 1923 up til 1981 are being raced on their very limits. All cars attending LMC ar either former Le Mans racers, or a comparable racing car from the era this type of car ever entered the Le Mans 24 hour race. Next to the practice rounds and qualifications there is of course the race itself. The six plateau’s make up for 24 hours of constant racing. Teams enter the race in cars from every era, trying to win the overall race. This year a genuine Group C sprint race was held as a starter, sporting a starting grid of over thirty sport prototypes!
After a luke warm shower and before taking down the shelter and heading for home, we take our traditional breakfast at Arnage. Eating your breakfast on the side of the main road, watching the parade of weekenders returning home in their beautiful machines, makes you reflect on the past few days, making plans for 2018. Cause one thing is for sure, in 2018, my girls will have to miss me for another brilliant weekend!
text and pictures: Roel Pollen
translation: Marc GF Zaan