As you will have seen from previous articles on our blog here and on our Facebook page we love being out and about at events especially when they are all things automotive.
Our good friends at Classic Car Tours (CCT) teased us with the idea earlier this year to head to the world famous 24 hour race at Le Mans. To be honest signing up for a tour of this nature did not take too much thinking about and the deposit was duly paid. It was back in 1985 that I last visited Le Mans in a Mark 11 Golf GTI and that left a great memory.
As I recently passed the half century the thought of muddy fields and tents did not appeal at all! I need not have worried because put simply Bill Telford who owns CCT does things in style!
So with the trip booked I borrowed my wife’s Mercedes and joined a group of friends in their much faster Porsche’s and headed to the tunnel en route to Le Mans. On reflection we should have perhaps considered an alternative route as this event clashed with a rather large football match and with heightened security it took three hours to cross each way.
We made great progress down there (not to be confused for speeding) and arrived on Thursday pm to a welcome reception at the venue, Chateau de Dobert. There were certainly no tents pitched here but instead a very fine residence that was over 400 years old and still being run by a countess from the same family.
Bill has a real attention to detail and has used the last six years and multiple tours he has successfully provided his guests to make everything just perfect. His team of two ladies Rebecca and Morgan (Bill’s daughter) really looked after us ensuring our glasses were kept full and that we enjoyed the finest of home made cuisine. CCT is a family run company and Bill regularly has his wider family support his events which pays dividends in the high quality of staff that make up his team.
The guests arrived throughout the evening and we had, as you will see from the photos, a great selection of motoring exotica complimenting the beautiful backdrop of the chateau.
What I liked was everything was made easy. Each guest had a weekend handbook with literally everything you needed to know including maps, areas of interest, event timings etc… so just perfect!
My party of three stayed about a mile away in a beautiful gites complete with its own pool and within a three minute walk a very nice restaurant with great staff and sumptuous food and wine.
We all slept well after a long drive and the event for Friday was called “The Great British Welcome” Now in it’s twelfth year this event recognises the huge number of Brits that come to Le Mans each year and this is the French being truly hospitable. I reckon there were 400 cars there including a paddock set up for “Pistonheads” where all sorts of cars were on display and it was free to attend. At around 4.30 we took part in parade of around 50 cars on a cavalcade to Le Mans led by a team of local motorcyclists. This was great fun with hundreds of school children cheering as we passed through the towns.
So lets wind the clock forward to Saturday and the start of the race. We arrived by around mid day and parked locally to the circuit (tickets and parking etc can all be co-ordinated by CCT if required) and then started to soak up the atmosphere of this legendary endurance event. It was not long while touring the exhibitors stands that I spotted a very smart Rolex store with images of the new Daytona plastered over it’s exterior. This was not something I was expecting and it was a very nice surprise to find that they were displaying the new Rolex Daytona Cosmograph. There were probably 50 watches from the Rolex collection on show, but there was a rather large queue eagerly awaiting to see the new Cosmograph.
One word…Wow! What a great looking watch! Rolex seem to always manage to beautifully enhance a current model to make it up to date and special. In car terms it is similar to how Porsche have continually improved the Porsche 911 over the years.
I had the chance to try on the black dial and white dial. The new dial and ceramic bezel bring each watch bang up to date and those lucky owners upgrading from the traditional Daytona will really feel they have got something new! Genuinely I would struggle to choose between them.. I think I would have to just buy them both and worry about the decision later! Sadly there’s no chance of that, even getting one is near on impossible unless you are an extremely good customer of your local Rolex dealer! Rolex have an absolute winner here, well done Rolex I salute your designers for yet another beautiful watch.
So as we left the two demonstration Daytona’s behind we went in search of more pre-race action and were lucky enough to bump into a very good friend and EWC customer who kindly arranged for my party of three to get access to the Aston Martin pit lane. What a buzz to be so close to the action with millions of pounds worth of racing cars within a few feet of us. We had the great pleasure to meet the legendary Porsche racer Derek Bell who very kindly arranged a premium viewing spot for us and also had the pleasure of meeting some hollywood A listers!
The race started at 16.00 with a slow start as the heavens had opened so our covered viewing platform was very much appreciated. The Classic Car Tours venue for the evening was in a prime spot and we had tables especially reserved for us. Our restaurant was trackside and at the end of the Mulsanne straight. With a G&T in the hand we witnessed the race cars passing at full speed which was just over 200 mph. Simply amazing! The fayre was typically good with CCT selecting a delicious and very reasonable menu.
By 11 am it was dark and the lights could be seen of the cars before you heard them roar by and we left the restaurant in search of other great viewing points. After 31 years it was really good to be back.
I mentioned our gites earlier. The pool, the fantastic restaurant and topped up with some fine weather. After a brief chat with my group we decided to spend Sunday chilling out which included a swim, a fine lunch and four bottles of Pouilly-Fume along with a big plasma screen to watch the action. A nail biting finish and so sad for Toyota but glorious for all the Porsche drivers in my party! The race was over but another CCT evening of entertainment was soon to begin at the Chateau. More food, more fine wine, a great bunch of people all having a great time and the end of a fantastic Classic Car Tours weekend.
EWC and Classic Car Tours have worked closely together over the last year and will be exhibiting at future events as we both share a passion for creating a great customer experience along with an equally great product whether its a car tour or a fine watch. Whether you fancy a trip to Goodwood, a Highland tour, perhaps further afield with a tour to Le Mans or Spa there’s something there for you, I really recommend you take a look!