Grand Prix de Pau Historique
Grand Prix de Pau Historique 2013
I am very lucky to live in Pau, France. Each year we have a Grand Prix, and just like the Monaco Grand Prix, it is around the streets of the town. However, unlike the Monaco GP - ours doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
My youngest son has been going since he was just 2 years old. The circuit is amazingly family friendly, and the boys always get to sit in some real racing cars, and the drivers love chatting and talking about their cars and experiences. There is no better way to introduce kids to the motor racing world!
History of the Pau Grand Prix
The Pau GP circuit is one which people either know and love, or have never heard of ....
The first GP was held here back in 1930, and became and annual event in 1933, however, it didn't run during World War II.
The track has seen its fair share of famous people. In 1949, Juan Manuel Fangio won. Jim Clark won in both 1961 and 1964. Followed by Jackie Stewart in 1968, Juan-Pablo Montoya won in 1997 and 1998, and Lewis Hamilton in 2005. So even though you may not have heard of the little Pau event, it is a huge feature on the racing calendar.
They did have to make various adjustments to the course for safety reason, and for the formula 3 nowadays they do have to have silencers on the cars as the sound reverberates of the buildings, but to the average human - it is still mega loud, and ear protectors are an essential.
The Mini Obsession
I am not sure I will ever totally understand the Mini obsession which both my boys have, but I can understand how they capture the imagination. We go to both the Pau Grand Prix Historique and also the week later the Pau Grand Prix Moderne. The problem with the Moderne is that there is a lot of repetition, admittedly the boys love the crashes, but there is a lot of laps of cars just going round and round - and often at the speed they are going you don't really get a feel for the teams and individuals. But the Historique is completely different.
At the Historique, for each race we each choose a car to support, usually based on having spoken to the driver, the paint job or how many wheels are off the ground as they go around the corners.
The Minis seem to specialise in having 2 wheels off the ground at every hair pin visit. We usually sit at the Palmerie grandstand. The Palmerie is on the outer side of the circuit and you see the cars coming down from the straight and into the hairpin right where you are sitting. There is a tire wall in front of the stand which is pretty well abused!
After a few laps it is quite easy to work out who will be the most 'out of control' on the hairpin (usually the further to the right on the straight the more likely they are to screech their way around the bed).
This year the boys checked out the cars in the paddock and choose number 64. Pau is in department 64, so that was pretty good, but it also had an amazing multicoloured paint job!
Once the race started 64 was supported, but after a couple of laps the support started to move towards 78 - due to the fact that he absolutely slung the car around the hairpin. With each lap he was further to the right of the straight and cutting corner tighter and tighter, with only two wheels on the ground. The whole of the Palmerie grandstand held their breath at each sight of number 78!
Mini Classic 2013
The Mini obsession really started last year, and in 2012 there were absolutely loads of them entered - one often wondered how on earth they were going to make it around the corners without taking each other out, but most were made fairly successfully.
This year there were less Minis, not sure why .... but they were still as mad and appealing as ever.
Pau is a rather bizarre town, it is full of history and visited each year by major events, but somehow it is also forgotten. The Brits were here loads at one point - and practically built half the town during their time.
It is somewhat supported by the oil industry as Pau is one of the main offices for Total. Total also sponsor lots of the events in Pau including the Grand Prix Historique, the Grand Prix Moderne and also the Tour de France.
When I read this book I realised exactly how little had changed in Pau. It is a rather fun book, the originally story was a diary by Louisa Costello, she travelled around the region and wrote down all sorts of things, from the views to the state of the pavements. This version is annotated by Louise Delany, who a hundred and fifty years later compared what she found and how it had changed!
Insanity in a Sexy Car
The Minis are great fun, and the Legends are amazing to watch - but these cars - well, I think I am quite safe to say that there is a not man at the track who is not lusting after at least one of these. To add to the fun, the drivers (who usually own the cars) do manage to make the race pretty exciting without destroying these amazingly pretty cars.
A Dream Come True ...
I was surprised to hear from one driver yesterday that some of the little girls didn't want to have a go at sitting in a car - but apparantly the boys could never wait to climb in!
Would it have been a dream come true for you to sit in a race car in the paddock of a Grand Prix?
Grand Prix Legends
While this video makes the Legends look rather serene - they are not. These drivers are amazing, they push the cars to their absolute limits, they are hanging out the sides of them and since all the cars are so different, they take different lines into the hairpin bend - so they are all having to avoid each other on the corners. It is great fun to watch. Last year we took some friends from England with us and they saw all the Legend cars in the paddock first and they were really shocked at how the drivers were polishing them down one moment and throwing the same prize possessions around the track moments later!