Jo Hemelsoet took part in the recent Sport et Collection in France:
On 12th and 13th May the Association Sport & Collection organised the 7th Sport & Collection weekend for exclusive classic and sports cars. The venue for this combined rally and track day event was the circuit of Val de Vienne in the beautiful region of Poitiers, 250 miles south of Paris. Co-hosted by the local Rotary Club, the Sport & Collection weekends have become a tradition in automotive charity, with proceeds from the weekend are donated to a cancer research programme.
The main attraction of the weekend is the assembly of dozens of "Ferraris against cancer". Last year 180 Ferraris (out of 800 sports cars) and some 15,000 spectators managed to raise 500,000 FRF. For 2001, the aim was to do even better and to gather at least 200 Ferraris.
The Sport & Collection weekend is also the official national trip of the French TVR Car Club and we were invited to join the party by their ever enthusiastic president Florence Lavielle. We arrived at the hotel on Friday evening and after an excellent dinner a few more Cointreau and Cognac were ordered from the bar. As there would be plenty of time for the trackday on Sunday, most of the TVR owners were going to participate in Saturday's rally, though a minority was going for the optional two day track event.
Saturday morning 6.30 am: what I'm doing here on a car park cleaning my car!? This was meant to be a holiday! The start of the rally was at 9.00 am in l'Isle-Jourdain, some forty miles away from the hotel. The scene for the start was the charming village square, that seemed to be taken straight out of a Targa Florio scenery. At 9.00 am an original Cobra 427 fired the place into life and a stunning cavalcade of 230 superb French, Italian, British and German classic and sports cars queued to the starting grid: from pre-War Bugatti and Alvis thought De Tomaso, Aston Martin, Porsche, Mercedes, TVR, Alpine and Bentley right up to the latest Ferrari 360.
The sunshine and heat added to an exciting summer mood and made the pale blue Bugattis sound and look even more glorious. We decided to group some TVRs to cover the 100 miles trip together. The winding country roads were exactly the stuff of what true open top motoring is all about: sweeping bends, long straights, lovely villages and a remarkable scenery. At lunch time all cars were parked in a field and their drivers and navigators enjoyed a joint amicable picnic.
The Track Day
At the end of the day, the rally drivers were guided to the Val de Vienne race track, where the track day was still going on. A glimpse of the 3.7km race track whetted our appetite for Sunday. After a short blast back to the hotel it was time for yet another fine diner and an evening of petrol talk. As Sunday would be more serious, we wisely decided to run on a rather low alcoholic mixture and discovered that the Kronenbourg 1664 beer was ideally suited for this purpose.
Sunday morning crack of dawn (amazingly without headache ) and we were already en route to the challenging circuit of Val de Vienne. There were literally hundreds of cars in the paddock area. They were split into several groups depending on car type: Bugatti, pre-War, Le Mans race cars, pre and post 1975 GT, single seaters as well as four different groups of Ferrari. The programme stated that the TVRs would go out on the track in the post 1975 GT group, but this meant that we found ourselves amongst a bunch of 30 (racing) Porsche 911s, Caterham 7s and some Italian coupes. Unfortunately, the weather suddenly changed and rain-packed clouds chased the sun away by noon time. The pinnacle of the weekend, a 200+ Ferrari parade was just finished as it started to rain. The afternoon sessions were driven on a wet track but slowly the sun returned. By the time the track had dried most of the participants had gone, leaving those still present with plenty of track space and time. The final 45 minutes track session was a fantastic bonus.
Fortunately a lot of courageous spectators had stayed with a view to have a go in their dream car. The TVRs proved very attractive and there was no shortage of enthusiasts patiently queuing for a ride: "Wat car iz thiz, mister?" "It's a TVR Griffith" "C'est quoi �a, une Triumph Griffiz?" Will they never learn..?
Another great dinner on Sunday evening rounded of the weekend nicely. At 300 FRF the Sport & Collection weekend package is a real bargain and it is a "Fun" experience with capital F. Moreover the knowledge that your enjoyment is serving the good cause adds to the attraction of Sport & Collection.
Copyright � Jo Hemelsoet 2001