First Time Le Mans Newbies and Preparation!
What a beautiful day! I am sat in my garden, I have crisps, a glass of wine, sunscreen on and of course radio Le Mans on my blue tooth speaker. And after all the negative things I have written about this years Le Mans I can honestly say I am excited now.
It's the same every year, even after nearly forty visits to the great race I get goosebumps once I hear the test day on the radio. You could say this is my test day out in the garden.
My friends that are travelling with me next week think that I am all cool and low key but once they read this they will realise that deep down I am just a little boy inside!
Next week I will be obsessed with prep! I am sure I am not alone on this one. All across the country Le Mans fans are readying! But what about Newbies?
If you are a Newbie it usually starts down the pub when you are sick to death of your new friends who go to Le Mans every year. The seem to only able talk about one week in June! Trying to change the subject is absolutely futile.
Talk about the Footy World Cup, and the boys reply
"Fantastic! We will be watching the first match at the Harlequin bar in Arnage. The waitress there wears Tres Bonn Lycra as she serves seize-soixante-quatre".
Oh no not again! You try movies " Seen any good movies lately boys? "
"Yea saw Bullet and Great Escape! Did you know the bike was a BSA?"
Another will chip in with "I saw Towering Inferno and Papion".
Change the subject quick! I know lets try the weather, but alas you are more likely to hear, "I looked at Accu-weather for 51 week ahead forecast and its looking good for France in June".
"Alright, alright boys can I come?"
"Never thought you would ask, £100 deposit that will do nicely!"
From this point on some things will seem quite unusual and your friends behaviour on the build up to Le Mans will seem quite bizarre.
Vehicle preparation can not be underestimated. When you go on holiday you pack the car the day before you leave, but not so the team bus. The first items like tents, gazebos and patio furniture have to be in there at least two weeks before. And cleanliness is paramount, it may be the only time in a year that it will be washed and valeted, but for one week June it becomes a "classic transit". The music system needs the big speakers fitted, the public address system needs to be installed, racing stripes and team logo must be affixed.
Also team preparation is very important to the Le Mans regular, it is something you can only understand once you are broken in. Already in shock after chipping in for some stickers embellishing Steve McQueen giving you the two fingers. You will wonder why you are chipping in for a paddling pool, high powered water pistols, rubber ducks, Christmas lights, a Satellite TV, a fridge and a fecking microwave! How much is this weekend in France going to cost. "More than you would believe young man".
Once you sign up to go to the great race your jaw will drop when team leader requests your measurements for your uniform (well team tee shirt) and he intends to have Chris the Knob the Le Mans Lemon written on the back! You may think you have made the worst decision of your life and you have fallen in to some strange occult group. Don't worry you have, and he has your deposit so you have to go.
The Le Mans regular will know that as the days slowly tick by and the leaving date gets closer the excitement builds up. Team meetings are not weekly but nightly as every minute detail needs to be planned. Wive's and girlfriends will fail to understand the phone ringing hourly with requests like have you a spare fridge, TV aerial or a hose fitting. They just don't get the constant checking of the internet for weather, traffic and forum news. Some partners don't even understand why you need a small mortgage to just watch cars go around and around. How silly is that?
This being your first Le Mans you try to engage with the group as much as possible. You offer your second fridge from the garage as Stu thinks fridge and freezer are a great idea. Your partner thinks taking white goods to a field in France is crazy but still lovingly empties and washes it with you and then threatens to kill you if it doesn't return in the same condition. Like a scalded child you promise to be a good boy.
When the big day finally arrives you are to meet at the pub at four. Your wife offers to drop you off. As you pull into the pub car park she sees the team bus for the first time. A look of puzzlement and a glance at you "Why is Steve McQueen on there doing that? And RAF circles? What's drinking for England mean? What kind of trip is this? ........You said it was just a Motor Race in France!"
Then she bursts into tears and starts to wail manically and begs for you not to go on the asylum outing. You lean over towards the drivers seat, place your arms around her and hold her tight as she sobs. As you console her like a knight in shinning armour you notice out the side window a couple of the lads have walked over to see what the noise is and they start to mimic being sick and are gesticulating for you to come on. Board with the melodramatics you release your arms and explain the sooner you leave the sooner you will be back. Not strictly true but it does the trick and you smartly jump out grab your bags and don't look back. "
Once in the pub you kindly accept a pint and sigh as the lads grill you on what was going on in the car.
"What did you do to make her wail like that? "
"Hang out with you gits" you retort.
The time has come for Tee shirts to be handed out and the team members are excited to see what name they have on the back this year.
Derek has "Team Leader 35 and counting"
Stuart has "Pissed Stu"
One of the group you have never met before a beefy bloke who rather resembles one the Hairy Bikers has "Scary" on the back.
Dave has "Posh Git".
Jonathan has "Wine Expert" which is a bit of a puzzle to him and you.
The youngsters have "Twit 1" and " Twit 2" and being youngsters are delighted with there derogatory aliases. Last but not least it is time for yours. You feel trepidation but Derek has been kind Newbey".
You feel quite a relief and take to your new alias easily.
A couple of hours later and team leader Derek is pleading to load the van or miss the ferry. Stu is pissed already and Dave is not far off, but everybody is ready for taking there places. But what's this eight of you travelling and only seven seats. You are far to polite and by boarding last you find you in the plastic patio chair! It is carefully wedged in between the beer crates and tied off with a piece of rope to the back door. Definitely not legal in the UK but pissed Stu is adamant it is legal in France and you can't argue with that can you.........................
Motoring-Man is a lifelong fan of Motor Racing and has a memorabilia passion / business
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