#1361. A day at the races (Spa 2024)

By Pascal Ollier | Travel Photography

May 22

Once a year, Spa Francorchamps, the mythical Belgian race track, invites all sorts of retired cars from the 60s, 70s etc. to run and compete in various categories.

Quite a feast for car nuts, and this year, I was able to attend.

 

2024 marks the year of the Porsche 917 celebration, and thus there were quite a few on display – but display only.

 

The cool thing about this long weekend (the event runs for three days) is that you can approach cars and owners quite easily.

 
 

It means you can freely take pictures up close.

 

Jaguar E types were quite present…

 

including those driven by ex-prime ministers…

 

You are able to have a chat with the owners, approach them before a race begins

 

take a picture of the cars easily,

 

as well as of the drivers,

 

N.B. As Marty Feldman said in Frankenstein Junior relative to this Ferrari, “hump, what hump??”

but in reverse, you are not alone

 

Everything during these three days is “real”. Well heeled owners come with their trucks, and go flat out around the track.

 

This means pit stops just the same with fully trained and equipped crews.

 
 

All in all, and despite foul weather in the morning (this is Belgium don’t forget), a very enjoyable moment.

 

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  • PaulB says:

    Pascal

    This looks like a lot of fun. For both car nuts and photographers.

    Your description of the event is very much like something that happens here in Seattle. Over the 4th of July weekend when the local race track hosts Historic Races. And it is the same. Racing enthusiasts bring out their cars, some from the 1930’s up to modern race cars, and drive them for all they are worth. For a while a co-worker of mine owned a 1960-70’s vintage CAN-AM race car. Several of us from work joined in to be his crew. I was the “Team Photographer”.

    It was a great experience because the big and small budget racers mixed together and had a fun weekend together.

    PaulB

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Hi Paul
      Thanks for your comment, fully agree, this is how such events should be run.
      I used to go to Formula One GPs a long time ago when it was relatively easy. I checked prices recently and its become ridiculous. Especially when the same fellow keeps winning race after race as is happening now for over a year and a half!
      Cheers.

  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Hi Pascal,

    Great set of images demonstrating perfectly the interaction that should be allowed at motorsport.

    F1 by comparison is so sterile these days isnt it ?

    Some fabulous machinery on display well documented.

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Hi Ian,
      First of all, thank you for the kind words, especially coming from you.
      Fully agreed. My first venture at an F1 GP goes a long long way back (Clay Regazzoni, Jody Scheckter days…) and yes it was fun, easy going and affordable. The whole circus has become out of reach whichever paramater you take into consideration.
      Thanks again for the nice comments.

      • I went to the Long Beach GP in the USA several years in a row and enjoyed seeing Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Mario Andretti and all the rest of the wonderful drivers from that era. Showing up before the gates were open I was bowled over by the sounds of the flat-12 Fezzaz being warmed up. Ah, such music. But even then I preferred the sound of the Matra V12. That was pure evil/good, that was.

        Now? To me F1 is entertainment, not sport. And very very pricey entertainment at that. So I avoid it and stick to vintage events.

  • Paul Perton says:

    Car and photo envy…

  • jeanpierreguaron660@gmail.com says:

    We used to have something vaguely similar here in Perth, in Western Australia – not just one, but two motor car museums, both owned by the same guy. He even bought my Morgan sports car when I sold it – bright daffodil yellow, with a big leather strap pretending it was holding the bonnet on!
    Once a year, he used to organise a “race” at the one in the hills, at York (about 120 Km out of Perth).
    Unfortunately he died and the collection was broken up – some survives in a smaller museum, but the race seems to have gone. There is still an annual vintage car show at York, though.
    Yours is all modern stuff, and a great deal faster. I will always remember my first ride in an E-type Jaguar – the driver had a hell of a time, trying to keep the car within the speed limit, because it never FELT as though it was going fast. 60 kph speed limit, but you didn’t feel as if you were going anywhere near that fast, when you were actually doing over 80 kph! Or my one and only ride in a Ferrari, driven by a maniac who’d already had three accidents with it – due to the Arab oil squeeze of the early 1970s, the official speed limit had been dropped to 80 kph even on the Autostrada system, but he just let it rip, and when we were doing 180 kph, it felt as though we were flying – an inch above ground level – it was fun and an “experience”, but it was also truly terrifying!

  • Quelles belles bagnoles!

    I tried to reach the Vintage Revival Montlhery event earlier this month and sat in the queue for 2+hours just to get in. Frustrated, I left. I’d been waiting for two years for this “happening.” Fortunately, ITAC will be holding their 100th year Montlhery anniversary in September. With luck I’ll have things better anticipated by then.

    Beautiful work you did there at Spa. I really enjoyed looking through your images.

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Thank you Christopher! Much appreciated.
      There should be another such event at the tail end of August at circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet which should be even better.

  • Philberphoto says:

    Delightful images of sublime cars, plus very entertaining storytelling…. What’s not to love? Kudos!!!

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