Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Le Mans is different than other races I’ve been to, starting with the time in most races when intensity amongst the crowd grows in anticipation of the finish, at Le Mans the fans begin wandering off to dinner, the arcade or perhaps to ride the ferris wheel. Having 22 hours till the completion has that effect. Around seven I went to dinner with a driver’s spouse, the team jackets we wore didn’t help in getting seated but the credentials hanging around our necks did.

I was curious about what it was like being the wife of a racer, but figured that then wasn’t the time to bring that up. In fact we didn’t speak of racing or Le Mans, but of movies and TV shows, anything but the race. After dinner she needed to rush back to her duties, but I wandered through the carnival and making a mental note to return and ride the ferris wheel after dark (a great view).

Around midnight I went back to the trailer to sleep and near three I awoke confused wondering where I was. A trip to the bathroom was in order and after I decided to see what was happening. As you walk along there are people curled up sleeping or passed out on and under benches with mounds of trash everywhere and enough empty beer and wine bottles to keep a recycling person busy for a couple of days. I arrived back to the pit area about the time that the Peugeot crashed. Word spread that the accident was serious and no one was sure about the condition of the driver. When the news came that he was conscious, but trapped in the car, you could sense the relief among the crews. But the race, for the next hour, was more like cars on the highway following a policeman.

Our car was in the garage when I arrived, the mechanics feverishly working. It went out again but later it broke for good, disappointing all. The sun came up lighting the clear skies, the threatened rains holding off for another day. As morning wore on people returned to the track and began filling the stands. By mid-day the stands were near full and the hope that Peugeot could win and win for France unleashed a wave of nationalistic (drunken) pride that made me think I was at an English football game.

So when the Peugeots crossed the finish line in formation, you would have been forgiven if you thought Napoleon had repulsed Wellington and von Blücher at Waterloo or the Maginot Line had held. At least for the day France was returned to her rightful spot at the top of the world in the minds of the French.



Anonymous VJ said...

More French high life of a different more tragic bent:

This dealing with the Swiss conviction of Cecile Brossard for the murder of her French banker lover Edouard Stern. No race cars seem to have been involved, but a pretty interesting if sordid story still. With some reputed Sarko ties too. Dying while in your own custom made latex body suit? Priceless. Having your mistress kill you for reneging on a deal, real or imagined? Worth 10-20 in the picturesque Alps. And so it goes... Cheers, 'VJ'

9:10 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home