Circuits des Remparts 2010
1939 saw the first motor race take place round
the streets of Angouleme, les Circuits des Remparts, with racers
like Pierre Wimille, Maurice Trintignant and Raymond Sommer
competing, the latter winning in an Alfa Romeo. 71 years later we
celebrate the centenary of Alfa with the roar of the twin overhead
camshaft engines reverberating through the streets of Angouleme
once again, the only changes to the circuit being straw bales
replaced by steel Armco.
Cars like Bugatti, Frazer Nash, DB Panhard, names like Fangio,
Manzon, Gonzales have all graced this capitol of the
Charente. Racing ceased in 1955 after the le Mans tragedy,
thankfully being revived in 1978. Along with Monaco and Pau,
Angouleme is one of the last surviving great street circuits.
It has become a weekend for showing off your cars, joining in
the rally, entering the races, meeting friends, old and new, making
contacts, swapping tales, and all in all having a wonderful weekend
in this beautiful region of France. Entrants and visitors
come from all over Europe to be part of this special event. A
credit to the city and all those who work so hard to make it all
happen. Long may it continue.
Friday sees the arrival of competitors and visitors, taking over
all available accommodation in the town, restaurants spilling to
overflowing. The streets and squares filled with exotic
machinery, echoing through this ancient place.
The evening is always given over to the Concours d'Elegance, a
spectacle where entrants display their beloved cars, appearing in
period dress, in front of an enthusiastic audience. Lights,
music, go for it! From Renault to MG, Alfa Romeo to Berliet,
everyone experiences a slice of history and glamour. All are
Saturday morning, bright and ever so early, has hundreds of
amazing cars gathering by the banks of the Charente River outside
the new home of the Bande Designee, the sun making everyone feel
warm and in a good mood for the day ahead. Teams study their
maps in readiness for the tour of the lanes and sweeping
countryside of the Charente Department. Bugattis, Ferraris,
Delahayes, Cord, Aston Martins and many, many others, from 1920 to
the present day, around 300 cars and crews head out in
convoy. Maps are not really necessary, as you are greeted by
the sight of local people at nearly every junction encouraging the
cars and giving directions. The route is lined with young and
old, enjoying the sounds and sights of this wonderful display of
classic vehicles. Lunch was taken in Cognac and a further
route guided everyone back to the finishing rostrum in the Champs
de Mars in Angouleme. Life was getting busy in Angouleme!
During the day those who stayed in town were entertained by a
superb display of the vehicles designed by Jacques Durand beside
market, les Halles. An amazing collection of cars from the
pen of one man. Around the Hotel de Ville gardens, set
amongst the flowers sat a mouth watering array of cars.
Bugattis, Matras, Talbots, all relaxing and ignoring the cameras
aimed in their direction.
Saturday evening sees the restaurants and bars full as just
about everyone spills into town to soak up the very special
atmosphere. Cars are not left out as people parade through
the streets in their much loved vehicles. A very special
place to be in France, in September. Miss it if you dare!
Sunday morning practice wakes everyone up from 0800h. A
chance to see if all the pre-race preparation has come together,
and for any new arrivals to the venue to get firsthand knowledge of
this short, but very tricky little circuit which holds so much
history. Driving around in the tire tracks of the famous,
avoiding kerbs, barriers, handling the ever so tight hairpin
corners and working out how and where to overtake. A few
competitors did not make it through to their races due to the odd
mishap, mechanical and directional. Most however, made it
A welcome lunch break to take in the buzz in town and then it is
time to take your position on the Remparts, your seat in the
grandstand to settle down for an entertaining afternoon in the hot
Three wheeled Morgans dominated the first race, the Wimille
Plateau, demonstrating how to lay down single tyre rubber
tracks! Fast, furious and brave action, close racing being
the order of the day. Follow this!
In between races the crowd was amused to see how the modern
super cars have difficulty getting round the tight corners, with
the nimble Renault 5 Turbo nipping past the Lamborghini and Dodge
Viper as they practiced using reverse gears! More glorious
sounds. Throughout the town, vehicles were on display, and
stalls were set up selling varieties of car related products.
A pleasant place to wander around should the racing within earshot
not be quite your thing!
The Pescarolo race saw Paul Conway make it third time lucky, as
he steered and slid his thundering V8 Morgan between the barriers
just keeping ahead of the fast charging Damien Kohler in the very
quick Diva GT, after a race long tussle. Alfas, Minis, MGA
and Jaguar made up the field as the two leaders weaved their way
through to the chequered flag.
A host of mainly blue DB Panhards then took to the streets, and
with lots of three wheeled cornering, and a number not making it to
the finish. All the same, a credit to the marquee and
fascinating to see so many cars out racing.
Alfas made a welcome return to Angouleme and screamed their way
amongst the tall buildings, in and out of the sun as it pierced
through the gaps between houses, their shrill and evocative sound
thrilling the crowds. Celebrating their Centenary, Alfas
could be seen all around the town. A fabulous display of
The Tringnant race saw MGs, Rileys, Amilcars and the giant
eleven litre Vauxhall of Tony Lees relive the early history of this
event. Lots of opposite lock driving being a welcome sight
from the current GP racing. Close racing and much overtaking
The Bugatti race was robbed of a potentially titanic battle due
to the non appearance of Martin Overington in his 35B.
However Michael Hudson took up the reins and gave all watching a
wonderful display in his similar car. Eighteen Bugattis is an
awesome sight and sound, and brought out the rare 1933 type 59,
last of the GP racers.
Monomills gave us an insight into Rene Bonnet's 1950's, 60's and
70's single seat Panhard and Citroen engine cars, a great sight and
sound, being driven with so much enthusiasm.
The Larousse grid brought together tail happy GT racers, doing
their best to slide their way round, avoiding contact with the all
too close Armco. Agile Alpines, powerful Porsches, mighty
Minis, while the favorite Peerless and Warwick drifted to the
delight of the crowd in the late summer sun.
A glorious array of eagerly awaited Historic GP and single seat
cars took to the tarmac. Ferrari, Cooper, Talbot, Gordini
returned to their old haunt, to make the hairs stand on end and
take us back to those halcyon days in a magnificent show of
The finale brought out the top honours from the two GT races,
but a problem with the leading Porsche early in the proceedings
robbed us of a super final charge to the line, as it stopped
suddenly on the exit from the last corner, all the fast following
cars somehow managing to avoid the parked Porsche! This did
not stop the remainder making the most of it, putting on a great
display for the approving crowds, rounding off yet another
Time then to pack everything up for another year, head off of
for a well earned meal, swap stories with new friends, and
make a promise to return again next year.
See you here in September 2011.
By Ian Wilson
0545 85 59 95
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