Le Mans 1992 - Ayse's Story
Page 2 - Just The Two of Us
The very uncertain state of sports car racing and the likelihood that the 1992 race would be something of a non-event was however, to have far more dramatic consequences. I should say straight away, that it never entered my head for a moment that I should skip the race this year. Heretics have burned for lesser suggestions! When I parted company with the other team members in June 1991, I had unhesitatingly assumed that the team would reform in time-honoured fashion a year later, and that come what may, Gordon’s Tourists would be at Le Mans again in 1992. Ian Gordon can always be relied upon to make the necessary arrangements, and usually very good arrangements indeed for the annual trip to Le Mans. It came as something of a surprise to me then, when I found him difficult to get hold of, and, when I did get hold of him, he was very reluctant to make any kind of commitment to the 1992 race. Never mind, I thought, he was bound to become more motivated a little nearer to the race. After leaving messages for him at his office on a number of occasions, I finally persuaded Ian to come clean. To my consternation, he told me that he had decided not to go. He felt that the prospects for any kind of decent race were pretty hopeless. It was unlikely that there would be any Jaguars in the field (he was right!), and, aside from a few strong Peugeots and Toyotas, the field was pretty poor. On paper, I had to agree he was right. I was absolutely shattered by this news, which effectively meant that without Ian's masterly organisation, there would be no "team" at Le Mans in 1992. Notwithstanding this, it took only a matter of moments to decide that I was still going to go. At this stage, I really must go on record to say that Jayne was incredibly supportive at this time. It would have been reasonable to have expected her to have pooh-poohed the idea of my going over to France on my own (and I knew that she wasn't terribly happy at the prospect), but no, she accepted straight away that I would make my own alternative arrangements.
I immediately got on the 'phone and arranged to be sent brochures from a number of well-known motor racing tour operators. These included the two specialist companies, Page & Moy and Chequers. It was after I had received their brochures, when I was making a final decision as to which of the trips I was going to book, that Jayne came up with the brainwave of the year. "Why don't you ask Peter if he would like to go with you?" Peter Dyment, a good friend, who lived in Milford-on-Sea, had been to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix with myself and Nick (my late brother-in-law), on a number of occasions. Very much a car enthusiast generally, he had been to Le Mans once previously, albeit twenty-six years ago in 1966! I didn't think for a moment that he would be interested in going to France, or even if he was, that he would be free to go. (You must remember that it was probably well into March that Ian had made his final decision, leaving me to organise something else pretty quickly). Well, the call was made and, after some initial thought about whether or not he could actually get a day or two off work at the right time, his answer was "Yes, please!" This was really good news. Although I was still determined to go, and would have gone on my own if Peter had been unable to go, I was really pleased indeed that I would be travelling with someone whose company I enjoyed. Jayne was equally pleased that I wouldn't be travelling over on my own.
So, the question remained, how were we going to get there? There was never any possibility that I would drive. Whilst I was sure that I could navigate sufficiently well to get us to Le Mans, the idea never entered my head that I should do so. It had always amazed me how the team drivers could manage to stay awake for the journey away from the circuit on Sunday afternoon. This was particularly so in the case of Ian, who always had very little sleep on the Saturday night. If I stayed up through the night (as I always planned to do), I was sure that I would be unable to emulate their feats! It therefore ended up as a straight choice between the packages that the tour companies had to offer. The first impulse was to travel with Page & Moy. I had actually been on this company's mailing list for several years, and received their tour brochures regularly. They had several tours on offer that would have met the bill, however the problem was that in each case, it was necessary to get to either London or Dover to catch the coach. Chequers, on the other hand, had tour which picked up in Southampton. The price was reasonable, and it was therefore a relatively easy decision at the end of the day. I knew also that Chequers always provided a very large marquee for their patrons at the Ford Chicane, and if the weather became inclement, this could prove to be very handy indeed. The order was thus placed for two seats on the coach for Le Mans, which would pick up in Southampton on the Friday evening, to catch the midnight sailing to Caen, and then on Saturday morning we would head off for the circuit, arriving in good time for the pre-race activities.