Back from Le Mans. Back from the Drivers Parade aka the ‘Parades des Pilotes’ . Ooooooooh yes! What a fantastic experience. On Friday, having parked the car in the exhibitors area at the Classic British Welcome in St Saturnin for a few hours, we assembled for the trip to Le Mans city centre & set off through a number of villages accompanied by motorcycle outriders from the Harley Davidson club, who zoomed ahead & blocked off side roads & roundabouts to ensure our passage was uninterrupted by the hoipolloi. This was ridiculously cool & almost certainly the closest I will get to feeling like the President of the United States! In many of the villages, the children were lining the road waving Union Jack flags & cheering which was real lump-in-your-throat stuff, making everyone feel very special. After weaving through a few cordoned off side-streets to get into the centre of the city, the Marcos cavalcade parked up with other cars to feature in the Parades des Pilotes & waited until it was our turn. As it turned out, there was plenty of time for a group photo!
One of the bikers also took a shine to my (admittedly very buxom) girlfriend who was very amused to while away the time posing for photos astride his Harley. I’m not sure what Mrs Biker said when he got home though… Tsk!
In true French fashion, we set off a couple of hours later than scheduled, about 2000 hours. It was still sunny but about four hours into the parade & the crowd, who had by now been ‘celebrating’ since lunch, were baying for wheel spins/general mucking about by the cars in the parade. The Gendarmes accompanying the parade cars through the streets of Le Mans made it quite clear that this would be frowned on however! An Entente Cordiale was reached, whereby on the odd occasion that someone’s foot slipped off the clutch resulting in inadvertent hard acceleration & loss of grip by the tyres, there would be some severe finger wagging (possibly accompanied by Gallic frowning), after which the driver would exercise better control over their pedal feet for the next few minutes. At various points along the route, there would be an extremely excited commentator keeping the crowd engaged, & they would pounce on one of the drivers to ask them questions about their car. I escaped interrogation!
After participating in the Parade des Pilotes the race itself was always going to be something of an anticlimax, although both myself & t’other half enjoyed sun, beer & company. No idea who came first, second or third… erm, so let’s just say that this weekend everyone was a winner! Even my exhaust cracking on the way back up from Le Mans failed to put a damper on things (‘cos it made me sound like a Corvette ). Indeed, I have just got back from Tube Torque in Macclesfield who fabricated the current stainless system & who fixed the weld in question, er, without question!