Motor Racing, H:O Scale Slot Cars, Classic Cars, the building of my slot car circuit

Les courses automobiles francaises et voitures classiques

Friday, 24 April 2015

Tour Auto 2015 - The Stage is set

Gareth shoots the driver of the GT40!
It was a bright and unusually warm spring morning last Tuesday and I found myself in the company of two fellow car-mad Brits and a hangover in the pretty Burgundy village of Égleny.  The hangover was courtesy of too much wine at my birthday dinner the night before but it was soon forgotten because of the good company of Gareth and Peter and the sight of a GT40!

This was the first leg of this year's Tour Auto Optic 2000 and we were just in time to see the big bangers take on the first of the special stages.  They had just driven from the Chateau de Courances and whilst most of the drivers were taking it easy so early in the week, others were obviously here to take an early lead.

There were beautiful classic Touring, Grand Touring and Sports cars wherever you looked.  Piston Head heaven!
A car slightly older than me - a 1953 Porsche 356 - at Égleny
The 1972 Lancia Fulvia 1.3HF of Dominique Vuillaume and Eric Bertrand also in the queue.
The stage was now well set and we were about to see these cars take on the course and try to set a good time.
The 1961 Ferrari 212 Touring Berlinetta driven by Martin Halusa gets his final instructions before the start.
The 1966 Ferrari 275GTB/C of Arnold Meier starts the stage.
We were eager to see some real action and were soon off into the woods to see these cars at speed.
The 1962 Triumph TR2 of Mark Rachet exits the first turn of the Égleny special stage
The 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900CSS of Adrien Cathiard makes its way through the woods
Last year's winner Shaun Lynn was really flying in this 1963 Shelby Cobra 289
Another fast 1963 Shelby Cobra 289, this time of Andrew Beverley
Then what we had been waiting for, the 1966 Ford GT40 of Richard Meins.  He was classified 19th on this stage.
Mark Freeman set equal fastest time on this special stage in his Shelby Cobra.
The Bussolini 1964 Porsche 904 GTS set a good 4th fastest time on this stage
This 1965 Lotus Elan of Damien Kohler looked fast and was!   It equalled the fastest time of the day.
This 1961 Jaguar E Type of David Hall was a little too fast out of this corner and briefly got onto the grass.  Nevertheless, he recovered to be 22nd fastest.
Another E Type at the same corner, driven by Serge Cozzolino
The very pretty 1963 Alfa Romeo TZ of Jean Laurent-Bellue
Fastest Alfa on this stage in eighth place was this 1965 1600GTA of Jurgen End
My favourite sighting of the day was this Cosworth DFV engined 1975 Ligier JS2 of Mr John of B and Sibel
Driving through the woods are Claudio Roddard and Jurgen Barth in their 1973 Porsche 911 RSR 2.8.... was this rather smoky 1973 De Tomasco Pantera Gr IV of the Sirgues.
Another Porsche 911 RSR, this time driven by George Saier
1973 BMW 3.0 CSL driven by Florent Jean
The 1970 Porsche 914/6 of Christophe Barthe just after the start
The 1974 Ford Escort of Philippe Ancelin
The 1974 Lancia Stratos Grp IV of Nicolas Leroy-Fleuriot
To round off the photos from this stage, a 1974 Alpine Renault A110 1,800 GrIV
More photos to come soon as we also covered parts of the road section and the race at Magny Cours.  All in a day's day-off-work!

John Etherton asserts his copyright to all of the photos on this blogpost.  However, you may post the photos elsewhere on the web as long as you credit the photographer, John Etherton, and this blog post, and provide a link to this page.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Course de Côte Saint Pierre de Varengeville 2015

Saint Pierre de Varengeville is a small village in the woods a little north of Rouen.  Once a year they hold a regional hillclimb leading up the hill to Saint Pierre.  This year it was held on a sunny Sunday 19th April.  It was the fourteenth occasion that this Course de Côte had been run.  As with almost all French hillclimbs it follows the great tradition of racing on public roads.
The most popular section for viewing is around the hairpin.  Here Olivier Dumont is driving the BRC CM 05 evo.
After the first hairpin the road rises steeply to another.  Here Claude Laurent exits the hairpin in another BRC CM 05.
It was good to see a fellow Brit tackling the hill, John Page coming over regularly to France to speed up their hills in his ex-Gary Brabham F3 Ralt RT32.  I assume this is the car that Gary Brabham drove to four wins in the1988 British F3 Championship to finish second to JJ Lehto..
John Page gains a lot of time in his final run up the hill in his ex-Gary Brabham Ralt RT32 F3 car......

.....and gives us a big smile afterwards!
As usual the majority of the cars were touring cars including this rather nice Nissan Almera driven by Michel Bineau seen here really attacking the first hairpin and generating some understeer.
Romauld Thuillier in his nicely turned out Citroen AX GTI in the popular F2000 class.
Jimmy Burette speeds up the hill in his F2000 class Peugeot 205
Sébastien Dupont round the fast corner before the hairpin in his SEAT Super Cup.
There were a number of nice Grand Touring cars including Alpine Renaults, Porsches and a Lotus.
Léonard Lusardi rounds the hairpin in his Lotus.
Guy Mureau in his Porsche 
Jean Marie Bouhin in an Alpine Renault A110
In the same FC class was Geoffrey Carcref in a Scora Maxi
The sports car class featured a number of interesting cars including the ubiquitous Normas.
A Jema 630GT taking the fast corner with a Normandy château in the background....
.....but the real beauty of Pierre Louis Foullen's Jema can be seen in this shot
Competing in the CM class was Vincent Bertheuil in his unusual GRC proto
Cyril Aubert in the Norma M200
Jean Yves Dore in the pretty little Grac MT145
However, the fastest cars were the D/E class Formula Three cars.
One of the faster cars was Dallara F394 of Anthony Guedry

A wider angle shot of Eddy Ravenel in his Reynard 913
All in all a very nice afternoon's sport and thanks to Gareth for the company.
Gareth talks to John Page's mechanics whilst eyeing up another shot
Eric Lecerf in his Tatuus FR2000
The photographer, John Etherton, asserts his copyright to the photographs in this blog post.  However, you may post them elsewhere on the web as long as you credit the phographer and this blog, and provide a link to this page.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

What is that? Number One.

You know what it is like when you see a car in the distance and don't know what it is?   You have to go and find out.  This is what happened to me at Montlhéry a couple of weeks ago and this is what I saw.  What is it?   Answer below.

Answer -

This was a car produced by a small British manufacturer based in Greenwich from 1962 to 1964.
Only twelve were built so they are now rather rare.
This one had a 1 litre Ford Anglia 105E engine (some had the bigger Ford 1,500cc engine).
It had a Glass Reinforced Plastic Sports Coupé body bonded onto a steel backbone chassis and plywood floorpan.
In kit car component form it cost £580.
It's name was the Heron Europa.
Not many people know that!
Luckily for me the information was on the back shelf of the car.  A thoughtful owner!

Pre-War Cars at Montlhéry Printemps 2015

Because it is a circuit with a long history racing dating back to 1925, it is always nice to see these very valuable Pre-War cars out on the Linas-Montlhéry circuit.  At the Coupes des Printemps 31 March 2015 there was a variety from Delage and Bugatti GP cars to an unusual Morgan.

1. 1923 B.N.C.
One of the oldest cars at the meeting was this 1923 BNC.  BNC, Bollack, Netter & Co,  was a small car manufacturer in Paris in the 1920s.  This was one of their first cars.
1923 BNC in the paddock at Montlhéry
2. Morgan Monotrace
This strange motorbike/car going out onto the circuit and following the Alfa is a Morgan Monotrace
Undercarriage up and up to full speed!
The Monotrace had two seats one behind the other as on a motor bike but had bodywork unlike a motorbike and two stabiliser wheels when going slowly.  Very strange!

This was a French Marque that had nothing to do with the British Morgan company.  These unusual machine were built in the twenties.

This contraption got the most attention in the paddock aside from the Alpine Renaults!

3. 1936 Riley Sprite

Riley was a successful British sports car achieving some success at Le Mans and in the Tourist Trophy with cars such as these.
1936 Riley Sprite at Montlhéry
4. 1927 Delage 15 S 8
Cars like this dominated the Grand prix of 1926 and 1927 with drivers such as the great Robert Benoist winning the World Championship for Delage.  Victories included the French GP at Montlhéry.  They were supercharged 8 cylinder machines.  Some later raced in the thirties with ERA engines.
Delage 15 S 8 at the Montlhéry chicane
5. Delage D6 Special
Delage produced the D6 during the thirties and also immediately after the war.  Some were used successfully for racing.  I think this one is from around 1936.  A very beautiful car.
Delage D6 exiting the Montlhéry chicane
Delage D6 at speed on the Montlhéry start finish straight
6. Bugatti
Their were at least three Bugattis at the circuit including examples of T35B and T51.
Two Bugatti T35Bs on the Montlhéry banking.  In the twenties cars often raced with a riding mechanic so appropriate to have two in each car.
Bugatti T35B in the Montlhéry pitlane
Bugatti T35B heading out of the chicane at Montlhéry
7. Memorial
Just outside the gate at Montlhéry is a superb memorial to two brave and fast French racing drivers, Robert Benoist and Georges Boillot, who were killed fighting for their country in World War I and II.  If you go to Montlhéry don't miss it.