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roads to remember

My Favourite Drive: Geoff Walker on braving French rainstorms in a car with no roof

‘We soon figured out that the only way to stay dry was to avoid stopping.’

Journeys, even everyday ones, can mean a lot. Geoff Walker is owner of Walker Autos and a classic car enthusiast. As someone with a passion for motoring, Geoff told about the drive that means the most to him.

First up, describe the drive.

Back in 2006, my wife and I headed off to France to check out the Le Mans Classic, a classic car race series that runs every two years on the same circuit as the 24 Hours Of Le Mans. We boarded the ferry to Cherbourg in a bright yellow 1969 Triumph TR6, a big old roadster. At the time it was in the process of being restored but wasn’t completely finished.

It was July, so even though the car was open-top with no covering – and wasn’t in the best condition for a long drive – we figured we’d be fine. We soon changed our minds when we arrived at Cherbourg into a thunderstorm. We probably looked like fools, but fortunately there were plenty of other classic cars driving on the same route, so we were among friends.

We soon figured out that the only way to stay somewhat dry was to avoid stopping. The moment you stopped you’d get soaked, so we did lots of coasting slowly toward traffic lights! Thankfully we made it in one piece. It wasn’t my first journey to the Le Mans Classic, or my last, but thanks to the weather it was certainly the most memorable.

shutterstock_451968889 In the pitlane during Le Mans Classic 2016. Shutterstock / Pierre Jean Durieu Shutterstock / Pierre Jean Durieu / Pierre Jean Durieu

Is there a view or a moment that sums it up?

The roads en route to the camp are nothing special unless you pull in at some of the villages in between. For me, it’s the anticipation of the journey, the achievement of getting there, and the buzz on arrival. I’ve since been back with my two sons, and this year my dad and I drove a rusty Iveco campervan the whole way.

What makes it special?

You can’t beat the sound of the cars at the start. Everyone has a favourite car, but for me it’s that incredible noise. Then of course, there’s the atmosphere off the track. It’s like a fairground there. People go to the Le Mans Classic to step back 20 years, to forget about their stressful jobs or lives and just have some fun. The sounds, the smells, the people you meet: that part of it never really changes.

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