THE DRIVER’S WIFE
Le Mans: a warning
Nobody tells you this when you marry a Formula 1 driver, but me, I’m all about honesty, so prepare for some hard truth…
At some point in his career, probably disguised as a desire to support a fellow racer, a driver will express an interest in other categories. If you are really unlucky that might include Le Mans.
At those two words, leave your valuables on board, remove high-heeled shoes and run at a sprint for the spa (not Spa).
“Oh sure, baby, I’ll come with you,” I said, blind with love, support and ignorance. Well, he was taking the jet, so it would be a quick round trip, and time was running out for me to debut the Marc Jacobs jumpsuit and still look fashion-forward.
I’d sort of heard of Le Mans, but nothing could have prepared me for the true horrors that lay ahead.
There was a heatwave in Monaco, so I decided to catch some last-minute rays at the Beach Club before throwing on a Cavalli kaftan and then jumping on the jet. We landed in an airfield (mainly field), and disembarked to gale-force winds and horizontal driving rain.
“Get me to the VIP hospitality,” I yelled through the (as-nearas-dammit) hurricane. “Right away,” said a grubby man in team kit, who put me in a golf cart and drove past fields and fields of tiny identical tents to a larger tent, where I was handed a cup of tea and a floor-length pac-a-mac wrapped in a polythene bag.
The circuit was overrun with fans. They were all over the paddock, and the grid was like an international anorak convention. “Just wait until you see the post-race podium,” pleaded Amor, all misty eyed – maybe because my vice-like grip on his arm was causing real pain. “More than a hundred thousand fans storm the pitlane and start-finish straight. It’s a race driver’s dream!” I mentally added a Hermès Crocodile Birkin to my list of necessary symbols of gratitude, as I swatted away more polyester-hooded hoverers. “Okay, but the second the race is over, you promise we’ll go home?” Little did I know… So my final piece of wisdom to impart is: the race is 24 bloody hours long! Yep, they kept that quiet. Twenty-four freezing, wet, interminable hours. It’s a day, a night and another bloody day.
By early evening, the overexcited fans in wet synthetic fibres were giving off a toxic stench. In a desperate attempt to escape nostril cancer, I fled to the back of the motorhome and finally stumbled upon the measly VIP facilities – a room unoriginally entitled ‘Drivers’ with a bed and a shower, decorated with racesuits for authenticity. So I stripped off and got a good ten hours of beauty sleep.
God bless you (unless you’re racing a car with a roof).