I went to Lemans as a member of group tour, stayed in Lemans central. I wanted to see famous administrative checking and scroutineering at Jacobin, that was one of characteristics for this race, and I left Japan on Monday. Administrative checking started on Monday, but many entrants appeared on Tuesday. I started from my hotel located riverside, crossed a bridge and climbed a slope, so I reached Republic. After in a few minute I could see really large St. Julien church. Administrative checking already started at Jacobin beside this church.Disclosed administrative checking is a characteristic very much. We could not enter the space where officials checked every racing cars beyond a fence. But every entrants unloaded their racing machines from transporting truck and remove to the entrance of checking place by their hands. During they waited outside of the fence, we could see and touch those racing car. That was very exciting for funs. Though we cannot understand that in Japan, many pupils from elementary school with teacher see and touch a racing car as social education. Christmas in winter and 24 hours race in summer, these are big event for residents. Many children enjoyed to drive a miniature car below the church.
Qualifying practice sessions were held twice a day (evening and night) on Wednesday and Thursday. I could not realize why these practice did so late. But I could find that answer when I were in circuit. Sunset is late very much in Lemans. Darkness doesn't come until 10 p.m. First qualifying started at 7 p.m. Sun was high and shining over the circuit. This practice imagines for daytime racing. On the other side, second practice started at 10 p.m. and finished at 0:00 or 0:30 a.m. Posterior practice imagines for nighttime racing. I watched first qualifying practice at inside of first sicaine. I could not see car, but realized car coming by sounds. Car accelerated and closed to our standing point. Sound became loud and engine sound decreased because of slow-down. That car appeared in front of me, and disappeared. Next that car accelerated, sound became loud and silent. I was surprised at one car went out of course at this sicaine.
I walked around central of city because there were nothing to do at daytime on qualifying day. Many posters displayed everywhere in Lemans city. NSX appeared on poster and cover of official program. I were surprised at many posters displayed at premises of Montparnasse station on a large scale. And one red NSX was shown at Lemans station, then regional HONDA staffs explained about that car. I were very happy. I took some my photos with beautiful lady. Next day of 2 daysqualifying practice sessions was Friday. Friday is a holiday. There was a parade around Republic Place on that day, but I thought mechanics were busy for tomorrow. Classic opened roof car went around the city with drivers from every teams. Young lady had a board showing driver's name. Many spectators encouraged them everywhere, especially to regional teams. When I returned from Paris, that parade was almost over, but this town was filled up by drivers and supporters till midnight.
At last final day has come. It was long period from administrative checking and scroutineering on Monday to goal on Sunday, called "Lemans week". Finally starting day is coming, even I felt so. But starting time is 4 p.m. If we start after having a breakfast late,six hours to start race. There are many attraction at the circuit. Time passed away.
(To be continued)
The day after my arrival Jun. 14 was 2nd. day for administrative checking and scroutineering. That was a chance to close to racing cars. "I will take many many photos and video." I left my hotel after breakfast. Ten minutes to Jacobin by foot. I walked along the river with some members of tour. "This atmosphere is French-like. " We talked so and take some photos each other. Suddenly I dropped my video camera. "All right?", I said "Oui, oui". My video camera dropped on grass. It looked like no trouble. But ...............
2nd. day for administrative checking and scroutineering was clear day and many many people gathered around this area. "I've just taken photo of TOYOTA and DAUER PORSCHE. NSX will come next." At that moment I found a alarm indicated in finder of my video camera. "What's happened?" I've never seen it before. Battery was OK. Tape was OK, too. I could not realize what error occurred. When turned off alarm disappeared, but when turned on alarm appeared again. There were three NSX having check in front of me. I took many photos unconsciously preparing for the worst. I cannot explain what uneasiness I had. After I took photos that I aimed at, I returned to my hotel quickly. I was surprised at looking instruction book. "Head is dirty. Clean up with dry cleaning cassette" on that book. "I don't have cleaning cassette." I had films, batteries and video tapes for spare. But cleaning cassette was not prepared. Anyway I cannot take video qualifying practice sessions from tomorrow and final start and goal. I jumped out to town to buy a cleaning cassette. Fortunately it was light until 10 p.m. in Lemans this season.
I found out a cleaning cassette tape. At that time I was surprised at vitality from Japanese company again. Manufactured goods from Japan were supplied such district. Thanks!! I went to cashier. One trouble happened. I paid with travellers check but clerk didn't know check. I experienced this trouble many times in Lemans. A lady from A.C.O. said "I have been working for three years here, but I have never seen this check before. This is first time to see it." She telephoned to anywhere and accepted. Credit card and travellers check are not accepted at most of shops excepting large store like department store. Only cash are acceptable at shops in circuit.
We had a rest at a parking area on way to Lemans by bus after arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport. Members of tour are about ten. And another group joined at the airport. Most of them came repeatedly. They advised to us. "I think there are no bottles of water in our hotel. Better to buy it here." I didn't buy. Perhaps I were dull. When I checked in my hotel, I could not find water everywhere. There were no auto vendors and refrigerators.(I think that is normal.) I spent that night without water, but@on next day I bought six 500ml bottles at supermarket immediately. Finally I drank up all bottles. This year everyday were clear. I walked around with bottle in my bag. Travellers from another countries had 1 liter bottle on their hand. That was usual. Anyway air is dry very much. Don't forget when you go out.
Jun. 17 the day before final start is off, no events. "This is good opportunity to go Paris" I went to Paris by TGV having guide book borrowed from another attendant. I visited Montparnasse, Grande Arche, Arc de Triomphe and arrived at Montmartre. I looked many pictures for my souvenir. But it was 7:00 at that time. The train to Lemans I have reserved departed 7:55 from Montparnasse. All seats were reserved. I had no time to discount it, and I bought it. I catch subway and changed to TGV. The train started to Leman. After a while I read the article "Montmartre" in a guidebook again. "Beware of pickpockets" I reached my pocket. "I lost my purse." I pretended to be calm in the train. One hour after the train arrived at Lemans station. Travellers check were in my purse. I telephoned to issued company for lost and recovering. I were relieved that check would return. I didn't lose all money and have no trouble after that. But I got angry.@
I went to Republic Place often in the interval of practice. One afternoon I walked around restaurants for lunch. Four young girls closed to me and said "Avez vous................". I realized they wanted something. But what do they want? I looked their faces with a cigarette in mouth calmly. Many ladies smoke. They looked nice. I understand what they want is lighter and pickup it from by bag. At that time they watched me from head to feet and said something. Of course in French. I cannot understand what they said "This middle aged man looks nice for his age" or "Japanese middle aged man is not fashionable". They said "Merci" and went into crowded street. This difference is important for me. I study hard French because you cannot say what you like.
The hotel I stayed in Lemans was located very convenient place. I attended alone. Travel assistant said to me I used twin bed room. But I checked in for single room. I felt something for gain. But from third night I moved to twin room. The man who works for A.C.O. went to bed late for his work. Every nights he returned to our room after I had sleep. I heard after his return he wrote a report at restaurant in this hotel. When I waked up in a morning, he remained to sleep. LEMANS is private trip for me, but business trip for him. Mind to not disturb him. Although he waked up too and after greeting I went down to restaurant for breakfast. After I had it, I returned our room. Next bed was empty. "Having breakfast? But he isn't." When I waked up in next morning, he remained to sleep usually. I went down to restaurant. After a while he went down too. "I changed my room for only one night because new traveller who watch only final race stay in this hotel. I sorry that was noisy because of removing my all baggage." I thought I talked to same man. But he was a cameraman. I talked to another man. At that time I had no glasses. I wondered it.@
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