Motorsport has never been my cup of tea. And then Peugeot invited me to the Le Mans Classic.
No, I never really liked motorsport. It’s been a while since I followed F1, but I remember when I watched it as a kid, it was more for the commercials that interrupted the race than the cars. In Forza Motorsport, I would a thousand times rather get into a production car that blew me to death than a championship car of the same caliber. So, yes, like everyone I imagine, I was cringing at the dash cams of the rally (how can they do that?) but hey, I moved on once the video was over.
Therefore, I did not rush to the invitations we received from brands to follow the sports event. I remember saying yes to Volkswagen covering Monte-Carlo in 2014 but man, between the night at the Hermitage and the warm hospitality on site and the provider, I’m not sure my experience was representative of what ‘we can live on the edge of the slope. The other race I went to was the French rallycross at Lohéac in 2018, but I was paid to tweet and did nothing else all weekend.
Then comes June 23, 2022, when I receive an instant message from Peugeot’s communications department at the end of the day. “Can I suggest meeting Aventure Peugeot at Le Mans Classic next to CD Peugeot SP66? Leaving July 1 in the morning, returning in the evening of July 2 in 508 PSE”. Le Mans Classic. My friends always come back with stars in their eyes. I had classified the case in the category “mouais to do if possible one day” (where I also put “work on my cardio”, you get the idea), but since the opportunity presents itself, you might as well take it. I answered yes.
Especially since this “CD Peugeot SP66”, whose existence I discovered thanks to the press release attached to the message, interested me. He is also unknown to you? Let me tell you. It all started in 1961, when Charles Deutsch (brand creator and founder) and Lucien Romani began studying a new car with one idea in mind: to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It will be light, airy and powered by 1130 cm³ of the new 203 released in scred by Peugeot. Everything was ready for the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, where CD entered three SP66s – and who were therefore able to witness this incredible battle between Ford and Ferrari, very well reported unknown film. The fate of the three French women will not be pleasant as three have retired, two by accident and one by failing to hold hands. Regardless, Deutsch replaced two other SP66s the following year…which would suffer the same fate. This is the end of the CD brand.
In short, all this is to tell you that the restoration workshop of Aventure Peugeot has completely modified one of them (the one that lost its handle in ’66, to be precise) and this participation in the Le Mans Classic is by way of recognition of. this good job. Is the car, driven by Etienne Bruet and Thomas de Chessé, there to win the day? “In any case”, answers Christian Guillaume, head of the restoration workshop, “we are here to continue the legacy”.
And so it was to encourage the team that we arrived (bam, on a Saturday afternoon at Le Mans with our modern Peugeots. And that’s when the magic started to happen. I have to admit, I benefited from more than a privileged situation: access to boxes, paddocks , pitlane, grandstand … I know very well that I did not live the experience of a layman . But now, after two days and 22 kilometers on foot (it wears out the shoes), I think I have understood the trick. To understand why motorsports can attract so many people.
Understand why children dream of being behind the wheel of the racing cars they see passing by. Understand why people can spend hours rolling their asses on the side of the road. To understand why you can be crazy about a certain engine, its sound in such a situation, to observe its effects during descent. I understood why someone could be a mechanic and ruin his whole weekend changing over and over again the race car we work on. I understood the essence of passion around motorsport.
It is clear and impossible to explain in writing. How to tell you? There is atmosphere, bubbling, subtlety it is not visible but there, now everywhere around you. Type of association; People from all over the world celebrate their love for cars. More specifically, the love of old racing cars, gathered at this legendary circuit that is the 24 hours of Le Mans.
There is actually an effect of this group, in fact. And then the best thing is to do it with friends. “There is usually a Le Mans starting grid 4, I go straight to the pit”. “Group C starts, we go to the brake connection!”. “Where are you? Are you Dunlop? Don’t move, I’ll join you”. “DID YOU HEARD MAZDA’S VOICE????”. And many other things to share together.
Yes, think of this Le Mans Classic as a gathering of a large group of friends. Rich friends, who do not hesitate to shoot in their cars worth several million euros, the unlucky ones who enjoy shopping for themselves, young, old, French, British, American, European,… just really European; In short, there is a wonderful difference, connected, with the sole purpose of sharing a good time, having fun and making good memories to keep later.
I usually don’t thank brands for their invitations, but I’ll make an exception here: thank you, thank you, a thousand thanks to Peugeot and Aventure Peugeot for the invitation, for the good mood, for the discovery. Following this weekend, as I was telling you, I understand very well the spirit of motorsport. Will it make me an absolute lover of any sporting event, I doubt, but why not travel with friends from time to time. I will be back.
Oh, and if you’d also like to see a Peugeot SP66 CD, there’s one in the 24h museum in the wonderful temporary exhibition “Allure Le Mans” which traces Peugeot’s adventures on the circuit. And there is a 9×8!
Photo courtesy of l’Aventure Peugeot, Régis Krol, Pierre Clémence, Ugo Missana, ThomasD., Jean-Baptiste Passieux
I’m on Twitter: @JBPssx