Spills and thrills at the Circuit des Remparts 2016

This annual festival of historic street racing in Angoulême is a date for everybody with even a passing interest in old cars. The city is just rammed with cars from early vintage to modern classics and the smell of Castrol R pervades the air on race day.

The weekend weather was mercifully a little cooler than years gone by and this made for some exciting racing on Sunday afternoon. The short circuit (1.2km) is on closed streets around the city ramparts and is tight and very twisty. Ten races of cars from aero engine powered Edwardians (no front brakes, rear only!) to 1930s Bugatti GP race cars and 50s and 60s Jags, Mini Coopers and more.

Many car clubs display throughout the town centre and this years highlights included a number of fantastically prepared hot rods – enough to fill a small grid for what was billed as 20 minutes of parade laps between races in the afternoon. Unfortunately, a sprinkle of rain together with a little over enthusiasm by the drivers perhaps forgetting it was a parade, not a race, ended with two cars in the armco at the first corner. No one hurt, thankfully, but the distress of the owner drivers was sadly clear as they picked up bits of custom made bodywork from the track.

Later, again on a greasy damp track, one of the Edwardian era cars, the 1911 Vauxhall Viper, skidded into the armco on the final treacherous bend onto the start finish straight with a sickening bang and plume of dust or smoke that left me thinking that this historic car was no more. However, a couple of minutes later it rumbled back into life and on with the race! I’ve been reliably informed that the city council bill any racer that bends the armco…..seems a bit harsh in the context of having to repair the car as well!

Sadly, I left my camera on the wall by Angoulême town hall so I’ve used some photos from last year to relay a little of the atmosphere at this exciting event.

Bookings for the Gites are popular around the time of the Bressuire Grand Prix Historique and the Angoulême Circuit des Remparts events and guests often want to take our classic hire cars out for the day too.