18 September 2011

Charente - Racing Angoulême's Ramparts

Street racing started in Angoulême in 1939, the ramparts of the town providing a testing circuit of short straights, extremely tight turns between steep inclines, and mixed road surfaces. Racing recommenced in 1947, after WWII, but stopped again in 1955 due to changes in French law bearing on street racing. In 1978 Juan Manuel Fangio gave his support to the circuit, and racing commenced once more in 1983.

A number of races lasting twenty minutes or so provide for cars of many pre-war and pre-1980s marques to be seen in quick succession, including Bugattis, Rileys, Fraser Nashes, and MGs. There are races of just Bugattis, and races of mixed marques. It is quite possible to see Minis mixing it with Renault Alpines and Porsches (top). Overall winner was Erik Comas, in a Renault Alpine A110.

The organisation is impressive, but thankfully the overall atmosphere is relaxed. F1 can't touch this, in terms of either cost or closeness to the action. In the paddock one can see the cars close up, including this year a very nice Triumph Dolomite Sprint, and talk with the drivers. On the circuit one can move around and view the action from various vantage points. Proper racing.

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