In the South-West of France lies this sleepy town on the top of a steep hill. At the end of a late summer’s day, it’s mighty cathedral glows above the hairpin corners that lead into the historic city centre. From up here, on the city walls or “Remparts” in French, one can enjoy the beautiful view over the countryside towards Cognac.
From 1939 something changed in the quiet city of Angoulême. During one weekend a year, the fresh air mixed with a scent of petrol, the bird songs drowned out by growling engine noises and the coaches dragging up the hill made way for a flock of galloping race cars. The “Circuit de Remparts d’Angoulême” was born. Just after the second world war, the event grew very popular. Illustrious racers such as Maurice Trintignant and Juan Manuel Fangio added victories to their already impressive ‘palmares’ here. By 1955, the Formula 1 cars and the circuit became incompatible, the city turned silent again.
In 1978 when the city of Angoulême wanted to resurrect the historic race, it was under nothing less than the personal patronage of Juan Manuel Fangio. This event grew to become an exceptional display of classic car culture during the last couple of decades. Not only on the track, but also throughout the city: from pre-war cars to young timers are to be enjoyed on the circuit, during a Concours d’Elegance on the Friday evening, a touristic rally on the Saturday and interesting classics in just every street across town. These days of the year, the town simply breathes classic cars.
The highlight of the program is that one of the most important yearly concentration of Bugatti’s and pre-war race cars. They gather to fight their dominance on the same course that faced the great pilots in the heyday of the circuit. 2018 saw a grid of 26 Bugatti’s racing along the narrow streets and hairpin turns of the ancient town. So close to the spectators that they could almost touch them. Thanks to Mark Jansen for this account and photography.
This magical event has to be experienced, we believe the atmosphere is unique. We have two tours on offer to the event this year.
For those wishing to drive straight down to the event and spectate can follow this five night itinerary
Those wishing to take a bit more time to travel down via some attractive roads with two overnight stays before arriving at Angoulême can select our seven night tour. Or simply give us a call and we can talk you through the event 01707 329 988.
At a time when Formula 1 has witnessed a fall in audience numbers, and when the ground-breaking Formula E struggles to find a crowd, there is one form of motorsport that continues to grow in terms of spectator numbers and events. It is perhaps ironic then that these motorsport events focus on looking back at history, rather than forwards to the future. The growth in historic motorsport is not necessarily a new phenomenon, as it has been happening for many years, particularly in Europe, but now historic racing is attracting larger crowds and an international audience. The attraction is clear; historic motor racing appeals to the many not just the few.
Historic motorsport events are now being held all around Europe. Some are on existing circuits, whilst others utilize less well-known arenas. Some events feature full competitive racing, others concentrate on the display and uniqueness of the location, so it can be difficult to choose which event is best for you. Below we look at a selection of our favourites to show the differences across this growing motorsport sector.
Le Mans Classic; 3rd – 5th July 2020
Attracting crowds approaching 150,000 people, the Le Mans Classic has been a real success story for the organisers Peter Auto. Taking place every other year, the Le Mans Classic recreates the rich and varied history of Le Mans from 1923 right through to this century. To guarantee authenticity priority is given participants with cars that actually raced at Le Mans. For spectators there is much to see and do, with unique themed displays and car club areas covering large areas of the infield. Options are available for staying inside and outside the circuit, but we recommend you book early as the best options always sell out in advance.
Spa Classic; 17th – 19th May 2019
The little sister of the Le Mans Classic, the Spa Classic still attracts more than 30,000 spectators every year. The Spa-Francorchamps circuit has a rich and varied history which is reflected in the participating grids that include historic touring cars, endurance racers and single-seater Formula. In recent years the welcome addition of a Group C grid has added to the spectacular action on the track. Although spectators can’t stay on the circuit, there are plenty of options for hotels and camping in the local area, making the event very accessible.
Mille Miglia; 11th – 22nd May 2019
Attracting 450 of the finest vintage and classic cars in the world, along with their professional and celebrity drivers the legendary Mille Miglia recreates an open-road endurance race that originally took place from 1927 until 1957. Beginning and ending in the Italian city of Brescia, with Rome marking the half-way point, this 1000-mile event has become one of the must-see events on the historic motorsport calendar.
Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or ; 6th – 10th June 2019
Originally held in the French town of Rouen back in 1964, this historic weekend of motorsport then moved to Montlhery, before finding its current home in Dijon in 2014. The Dijon-Prenois circuit was previously made famous by hosting the French Grand Prix between 1974 & 1988. This Peter Auto organised event features sixties endurance racers, historic touring cars, a whole grid of 2 litre Porsches as well as single seaters such as formula 2. There are car club displays away from the action on the track ensuring there is always something interesting to view.
Nurburgring Oldtimer Grand Prix; 8th – 12th August 2019
Around 600 cars will compete across 11 different grids across the weekend using a combination of the F1 circuit and famous Nordschelefe. Cars from pre-war through to end of the 1990s will be represented on track with manufacturers and clubs creating exclusive displays on the infield. Access is good for spectators with free grandstands, paddock and garage access throughout the weekend. There is a campsite adjacent to the track and a number of hotels in the local area making visiting this event simple and fun.
Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix; 5th – 9th September 2019
Nestled in the sand dunes of the Dutch coastline, this undulating circuit is perfect for hosting historic motorsport; It is challenging for the drivers and viewing opportunities are excellent for spectators. Expect to see grids of historic Formula 1, DTM, touring cars and historic world endurance championship challengers across the weekend. A relaxed paddock enables everyone to get close with cars and drivers alike. There are campsites and hotels within walking distance of the circuit making this event an easy introduction to historic motorsport.
Circuit des Remparts, Angouleme, 12th – 17th September 2019
Each year the French town of Angouleme comes alive to the sounds of engines as both vintage and classic car racers descend on the tightest of street circuits. Bugattis and Porsches will line the paddocks alongside Aston Martins and Jaguars, giving a really international feel to the event. In addition to the street racing on Sunday there are competitions and events throughout the weekend as classic car owners bring their own vehicles to join in the event.
Spa Six Hours, 27th – 30th September 2019
Just as the leaves on the Ardennes forest begin to change, this weekend of historic racing shows off the Spa-Francorchamps circuit at its best. There are many differing grids across the weekend but the signature race is the six hours endurance race that begins in the afternoon and finishes after dark. Expect to see AC Cobras, Jaguar E-Types and Ford GT40s both on the track and in the garages and access is unrestricted for all spectators. Once again campsites and hotels are available close to the track for this event.
2018 begins in Daytona, Florida with the Rolex 24 at Daytona. This is the start of the Weathertech Sportscar Championship and is your first chance to see new technology and international drivers take on the banking at this famous circuit. Our hotel on Daytona Beach is the perfect place to stay and enjoy this great event.
Continuing out travels in February, we visit Australia for the Bathurst 12 Hours. If you have never visited the Mount Panorama circuit before, then this is a must. We not only have downtown hotels and apartments available for this race, but we include 3 days hospitality so you can enjoy practice, qualifying and the race from the privileged position on the pit-lane roof.
We are back in Florida in March for the 12 Hours of Sebring. This is America’s oldest and most prestigious sports car race. In 2019 Sebring will also host a round of the FIA World Endurance Championship “Super season”, but you can also visit in 2018 & stay in our lakeside condos, just a few minutes drive from the circuit.
May’s Spa Classic goes from strength to strength and the event now attracts more than 30,000 spectators each year. With a mixture of classic endurance racing, Group C racers and historic touring cars there is enough variety to entertain everyone. We have a selection of nearby hotels and camping available to accommodate everyone, and entertain all our customers in our hospitality suite overlooking Eau Rouge.
The Le Mans 24 Hours needs little introduction. Following the withdrawal of Audi and Porsche there is guaranteed to be a new name on the winner’s trophy. Toyota will be back, and this time with an F1 champion behind the wheel. They will be joined by a good number of privateer LMP1s adding to the fun. The ever competitive GTE Pro class sees the return of BMW to take on the might of Ferrari, Ford, Aston Martin, Corvette and Porsche so there a plenty of manufacturers present too. As always Travel Destinations will be offering on-circuit options including our exclusive private trackside campsite at Porsche Curves, our Glamping option (Event Tents) and our pop-up hotel (Flexotel).
The pinnacle of historic motorsport is July’s Le Mans Classic. It is unrivaled in its scale and history. The racing only features cars that once raced at Le Mans, from the 1920s through to the 1980s (now including Group C). If the on-track spectacle is not enough for you then the gathering of more than 8,000 classic cars on the Bugatti circuit may tempt you away. Much like the 24 Hours, Travel Destinations has private track-side camping, glamping and pop-up hotel rooms available at the circuit, as well as hotel rooms, camping and B&B options further afield.
Endurance racing also returns in July with the 24 Hours of Spa. Being track-side, watching as Audi, BMW, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Nissan & Bentley all speed through Eau Rouge through the day and the night is a joy to behold. The racing is punctuated with a pop concert and fireworks display above the paddock at night as the cars continue around the track. We have both camping and hotel options for this event enabling you to enjoy the whole spectacle.
August sees the Nurburgring host the Oldtimers Grand Prix. This historic motor racing weekend, has a mixture of single-seater and sports cars compete around this historic circuit. Wandering the paddock is like going back in time as the mechanics work on this classic machinery. We have trackside camping or a 4 star hotel to choose from when you attend this great event.
September is a busy month for classic cars and historic motor racing. The Circuit des Remparts event in Angouleme (South West France) is quite unique. The Sunday of a long weekend of car events, sees a full day of historic racing around the walls of the old town. This tight street circuit is overshadowed by the town’s cathedral and spectators fill the stands at every turn; it is quite a sight and well-worth the drive down to see it all in person.
Mallorca classic week is organised by the island’s residents with a focus on classic cars both resident and visiting the island. With the emphasis on the social side, there are gatherings and displays around the island with competitions and scenic drives to some of the most beautiful parts of the Mallorca. It may seem a long way to go, but with ferries taking the strain the driving distances are shortened and you could participate by clocking up less than 1000 miles in your car but stay for two whole weeks.
The Spa Six Hours in September has always felt like a racers weekend that spectators have been allowed access to. There are few restrictions on access and teams are always relaxed and happy to chat. There are a variety of grids racing over the weekend, with the highlight being the classic endurance race on Saturday afternoon that continues in to the autumn night. If you like your GT40s, D-Type Jaguars and AC Cobras competing at speed, driven by skilled drivers then this event is perfect for you. We have a range of hotels and camping available within 10 minutes of the track, so you can enjoy it all in comfort.
You can secure your place at any of these events now. Reservations are open, but availability is limited, so please call Travel Destinations now, on 0844 873 0203.