The CineCars community is represented everywhere. That’s why it’s not all that strange to find our reporters at different events in the same region at the same time. Matijs Jutte joined in at some historic racing at Spa Classic on the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, whilst Dick Jansen enjoyed the authentic atmosphere of the Salon Rétromoteur in Ciney. Out for a nice weekend in the Belgian Ardennes.
Since 2011, Spa Classic has evolved into an annual celebration of historic motorsports. It is the remembrance of the 24 hours races of days gone by in the Heritage Touring Cup (HTC) and Sixties Endurance. The Classic Endurance Racing (CER), divided over two categories by age and the Trofeo Nastro Rosso complete the programme. Group C is a returning series as well and a very nice starting field had been promised.
Although low temperatures and rain were predicted, the weather wasn’t all that bad during the event. Still we found there were clearly less spectators than the years before. Some of the competitors didn’t show up as well. Except for the HTC and the Sixties Endurance, the poor show up made the starting grid look a bit thin, though nothing less interesting. Group C-cars still being the most impressive, with lap times close to the 2016 LMP2 field. In the end the starting grid counted 15 cars, including some very nice Porsches 956 and 962. A unique 1993 Peugeot 905B, which sadly crashed during qualification, taking out the black Alpha Porsche. Some C2 and C1 Spices in different specs, the fastest able enough to mix amongst the Porsches in front. The fastest car is the TWR Jaguar XJR-14, dominating the field until a little mistake in the chicane takes the victory to the Joest Porsche.
The touring cars have two one hour races, one during daytime, one on saturdaynight at dusk. A nice starting grid of BMW CSL and 635 CSI, Ford Capri and Escort, Chevrolet Camaro and even a Volvo 240T. Thus recreating the atmosphere of this legendary 24 hour classic. The Sixties Endurance category is the largest, with over 70 cars. Amongst them a lot of Cobra’s, Mustangs, 2-litre 911’s, Jaguar E-types, Lotuses, MG’s, Healey’s and Triumphs. A great sight that makes the two hours fly by like seconds. Classic Endurance Racing brings another two interesting races.Lola T70, Alfa T33-3, Porsche 908, a unique Ford F3L P68 and some Chevrons in the first category. The second one existing of mainly Porsche 935 en 934, Lola’s, a pair of beautiful BMW M1’s as well as a stunning 320 Gr.5. The Trofeo Nastro Rosso presents a very nice Ferrari 250LM and 250 GT ‘Breadvan’, af few beautiful Ferrari’s 275 GTB and 250 GT SWB’s, as well as a Bizzarine Grifo GT and some Alfa Zagato’s SZ and TZ, the latter being quite able to make the stronger Ferrari’s sweat.
A very nice event, that deserves more attention and competitors than it did this year. The atmosphere in the paddock was very lively once again, with lots of stands for automobilia and club gatherings. Clubs that were allowed to get a taste of the circuit in their own cars in between races. The hospitality and gastronomy typical for the region always bring something extra to this event.
A typical Belgian ambiance we also recognise at Ciney. We find ourselves at a Belgian ‘Salon’, easily recognisable through the chipstands and the fact you’re able to buy great beer in real glass. For many years Pentecost weekend has been the date for the Salon Rétromoteur at Ciney. The largest Belgian exhibition for professionals and individuals. Rétromoteur being an international event with sellers and buyers from France, UK, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, Austria and even the US. By the way, what we might call an exhibiton, is quite poshly being called ‘Salon’ by the Belgians. In which we recognize a small problem of this event, outside French, however beautiful a language, no other languages are spoken at all.
But let’s not get ahead of things. Like every year getting in to Rétromoteur is somehow problematic. Maybe it’s typical for Belgium, but long before the gates open, the many visitors block the entrance and subsequently the adjoining roads. Thus forcing the organisation to open the doors before the official opening time. Once inside all those visitors rapidly disappear in the over 35.000 square meters of exhibition area. Outside Ciney Expo Hall we stumble upon the sellers of youngtimers and more serious projects. Extraordinary and interesting objects, but the more common stuff as well. Inside the Hall we find the clubs and car dealers. The restored cars nicely lighted and on carpeted displays. You can touch them, in only you ask first!
Next to the Expo Hall we find the marketplace. This is were sellers of parts and automobilia present their goods in the open air. ‘Junk-dealers’ selling everything, from junk to that one unique part you’ve been searching for years. It’s only the beginning of Rétromoteur walhalla, the indoor cattle market. Once a year it is transformed into the heart of the Salon Rétromoteur. With the feel of a car boot sale, tables and crates full of parts begging to be searched. Car enthousiasts looking for that once of a lifetime chance. A feel strongly missed in other car exhibitions and maybe the demise of those in the future. This is where you find your parts, documentation and lots, lots, lots of model cars. Being this large, the cattle market never gives you the impression of being to crowded. There is ample room to search through all the stands. Just watch your step, because you’ll never know when your feet will disappear in a hole containing a nice cow pad.
That’s when you really get the grasp of what people call a ‘bourgondy lifestyle’. Being able to enjoy the beer, chips, people and everything on offer even in the stench of a cattle market. An atmosphere where contacts are being made over a nice glass of beer. Where deals are made and unique finds are shared. Where one hall can find you that one part you need to finish your project into the beauty that, who knows, will be in the spotlight of the other hall next year. Completing the circle, just as it should.
text and photographs Spa: Matijs Jutte
text and photographs Ciney: Dick Jansen
translation and editing: Marc GF Zaan Spa