June 29, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

So Motoring-man went to Le Mans and got his tent burnt down! I had lent this four berth luxury canvas home to my friend Dave and his wife Val and they carelessly got it destroyed by fireworks after just one night! 
All joking aside they were damed lucky to be alive or at the very least seriously burnt! After a wonderful evening out in the old town Le Mans, newbie Val was incredibly tired and needed her bed, but fortunately we missed the tram home and were delayed by half an hour! Thank goodness we were, as when we got back to camp, we were greeted by the smouldering remains of not just the tent but the air bed, clothes, shoes and all their personal possessions. “Val could have been in there“ Dave said as he broke down in tears.
The culprits were a group of french lads who kicked over a large aerial firework display that they were messing around with. I guess at first it may have seemed funny until a rocket hit a passer by sending him to hospital with a injured hand. Another rocket shot out horizontal piercing our two tent walls and straight into the sleeping area of the tent before going off! I honestly think if they had been in there, they would have had no time to escape, as it was right beside the pillows!
Now I have been to Le Mans 38 times and I love the partying, the drinking and the racing but........
The last few years I have been quite annoyed with the level of hooliganism that has crept into the whole event. I am talking of acts, that a small group of individuals think is fun but ruin other peoples whole weekend. 
A couple of examples from camping Houx last year. A couple of 350zs doing donuts in the dry sandy soil and sending up massive plumes of red dust. Whoops of joy and laughter from their friends but the couple in the motorhome beside the road left vowing never to return to Le Mans, after having their evening ruined, after everything including their dinner was wrecked. A classic example of how someone’s fun is at the total expense of others.
I was intending to leave on the Sunday after the race this year as fires on the campsite got completely out of hand last year. Quite ironically I said I didn’t want to risk having my tent and awning burnt! Again it’s great fun when the Dutch guys put on patio tables and two fridges! Thick black acrid smoke is so funny! But then again if you breath it in and shorten your life so what, and if you are camped just feet away in your Motorhome, you have to again pack and leave. Again the couple vowed never to return! I too had to leave early as I was a about 50 meters downwind and decided it was impossible to sleep inside the motorhome as the smoke was being drawn into the bedroom windows. Never mind as long as they enjoyed themselves!
So should the ACO take a little more responsibility? I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU GUYS THINK?
My view is that the ACO is getting greedy and to all intensive purposes selfish! I find it very difficult to criticise a place that I love so dear! But I must! Here are few points I have observed:
1: Security: Now France has had a pretty rough time with terrorist attacks so you can understand the stop checks at the campsites! The big guy has a look through your van or the back of your car, all well and good, but what is he looking for? Maybe explosives? No can’t be that, as there are enough fireworks to build a huge bomb! Knives maybe? Can’t be that either as we are all camping! I have no idea? do you?
When you leave camping Houx and go into the circuit the security take a look inside your bag and confiscates all alcohol! The very uninterested souls tirelessly stand for hours on end not making any effort to confront punters (Maybe terrorists) who just chuck a rucksack over the fence a few meters along. 
So are the ACO looking after their own coffers and making sure we pay a rip off 9 euros a pint inside or are they protecting us from would be killers?

2: With our camp on fire and a quite distressed couple genuinely in tears, it would seem sensible to call the police. While fellow campers who are now legends consoled Val and Dave, providing them with drinks, sleeping bags and blankets my wife and Dave’s brother walked down to the gate to ask security for help. The response was to say the least outrageous! Under no circumstances were we to call the police and my wife’s phone was taken from her and the call to them disconnected after a junior security man dialled it! To cut a long story short we had to travel into Le Mans city in the morning to the Gendarmery to report the event and get a crime report for insurance.

3: Back to the racing and back to my previous article “Have Le Mans fans been stitched up like a kipper?’ The LMP1s stood no chance at all and the balance of performance of half a second a lap was bull! But what surprised me was that all the fans I talked to had little or no idea of what was going on in the Le Mans 24 Hours! Most knew that Porsche and Audi had gone and Jenson Button was in the race but not sure which car! The ACO lost it’s manufacturers, for goodness sake don’t loose your fans. Otherwise it will just be a big piss up for lunatics who have scared all the others away.

I really did not want to come across as a boring old fart, but to be honest the whole tent affair was really much worse than can be written here. The young man next to us was in his tent at his first Le Mans. He was scared stiff and left early never to return. I will return to Le Mans, I will get drunk, I will do something daft but I hope as long as I live I wont spoil it for others!

PS Val you are a legend! In the over 50s club and your first Le Mans, first time ever camping (OK you vowed never to enter a tent for the rest of your life!!!!). All the time smiling in the face of adversity you stayed on to see the race, vowing that a group of idiots were not going to ruin your week-end! And I don’t think they did!

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