Le Mans 2005
The Tourists' Story
The Night Part 1 - The Stuff of Dreams
As they always are a couple of hours or so into the race, the bars and stalls at the top of the Village were the scene of much merriment, the majority brought on by intake of large amounts of alcohol..... For me though, I don't need to be inebriated to enjoy the greatest sporting event of them all. But, having said that, having found the rest of the Tourists, a glass of cold champagne went down extremely well!
But it was time for us to move on. We had of course rushed to the circuit and hadn't had our customary Friday night stop at Le Grand Luce, so it was time to put that right. So we walked down the outside of the circuit and left by the Tertre Rouge exit to go and find the car. I have to say my fingers were crossed at this time; there was no reason to assume that the car wouldn't be there when we got there, but with all of our bags still in it and it having been parked, well, slightly illegally, I suppose, I was relieved when we got back to it and found it safe and sound.
So we were soon back to the familiar surroundings of Le Cheval Blanc at Le Grand Luce where it was time to wash and brush up and enjoy a civilised meal.
I was as keen as ever to get back to the circuit. If I've said it once I must have said it a hundred times - its the night at Le Mans that really counts the most for me. SoIan, Robert and Martin came back with me at about 11.30 pm, I suppose. Our first port of call was Mulsanne Corner. I'd wanted to go back to Mulsanne during the night for ages. If I recall correctly, the last time I was there during the night was in 1998 when Pierre and I travelled to France as the "Terrible Twosome" without the rest of the Tourists. In fact, I believe that was the only other time I've been to Mulsanne Corner during the night - in 20 years!
Happily we were able to spend the best part of an hour at Mulsanne Corner before the rest of the guys started thinking about getting back to Le Grand Lucé for some sleep. As always, Ian was happy to do a detour and take me back to the circuit for my lonely night-time vigil! I waved goodbye to them at the Tertre Rouge entrance as I looked forward to 6-7 hours of wandering the circuit with camera and tripod.
I've still not quite got to grips with some of the concepts of digital photography, despite the fact that this was the second year at Le Mans for my EOS10D. I still can't quite get myself out of "film" mode - you know, "I can't afford to take too many shorts, I'll run out of film". Of course, with a rash of CF cards, that wasn't a problem (in fact, in both 2004 and 2005, I returned home with an unused CF card), but it is still a process of psychological education for me after 18 years of going to Le Mans with ordinary film SLRs. I also had the video camera with me, so it was a case of spreading my time fairly between both formats.
At Tertre Rouge I crossed underneath the circuit and spent quite a long time photographing from inside the corner. Its a good spot. The cars are actually passing quite close by and the fencing is perhaps slightly less intrusive there than elsewhere.At around 1 am there was still a large crowd on the spectator banking there.
I guess its quite funny; 10 years or more ago I wouldn't have bothered keeping a lot of these shots - I would have thought they were failures - blurred, out of focus... Now, with the wonders of modern digital photography, I can hail them as the works of art they truly are! Well, I think they're worth uploading and putting on display anyway!It also gives me the chance to try some vaguely "arty" manipulation...... Let me know what you think.
Well, entertaining though Tertre Rouge is, you can't stand in much the same place for ever, so it was time to move back underneath the circuit and to walk back up to the outside of the Esses. Once upon a time, before the arrival of all the debris fencing and the adjustments to the spectator areas etc., I used to set my tripod up here for some light trail shots. But the fencing makes the opportunities very few and far between and, after a while, I began to wonder why I'd brought the darned thing with me......
So much for the Esses, then.... By this time I guess it was getting on for 2.30-3.00 am and my legs were beginning to wonder what they'd done to offend me, so I decided to make the walk back to the relative comfort of my seat (or anyone else's for that matter) in the pits grandstand.