Le Mans: a warn­ing

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

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).

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