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There have been two invasions of Normandy in the past 70 years. The first was in June 1944 when an Army Commanded by an American General made up of handpicked and seasoned troops landed on the Cherbourg Peninsula. The second was when an Army of Henpecked and smiling warriors from PCI landed in the same area. The first invasion is well recorded by historians, the latter can probably never be touched by historians due to what the mafia call omerta (stay quiet , or else).

Ferry journeys with a wife and kids can and usually are grueling. This time due to the ballbearing make-up of the group it was a lot more pleasant. Those musicians among us whetted their chords , Whippy (John Phelan) and Mad Mel (Mel Nolan) on a Gibson Guitar.

We made our way on landing to the first D Day Location, the Pointe Du Hoc close to a town called Grandchamp Maisey about 60 kms from Cherbourg. History records that of the 650 men who landed on D Day beneath these cliffs only 125 were fighting and alive after D + 4. We soldiered on to Lunch at Vierville Sur Mer and then on to the tragic and impressive American Cemetery at St Laurent sur mer. We now faced a drive of almost 500kms to Reims. Around 3pm our first casualty took place. A bolt in Whippy's Turbo was ingested in the engine causing a plume of smoke not seen since the June 1944 invasion, and with almost similar outcomes. There was a sea of grey and red, screams of men and sceaches of metal as they tried to survive the mayhem. The Cavalry arrived to rescue but it was too little too late and the body was taken off in a stretcher on the back of a flat bed. Calls to Myles in AXA HQ were put through to see could it be saved. Later Denis and Mel ( mel-amine )were seen to shed blood and guts struggling with a Cobra ( Alarm ). The weather was kind and warm , temperatures up to 26 C were recorded. One of our lot , Aidan Farrell was almost captured by some lurking Gendarmes who trailed him for 50kms before he eluded them. An early night in Reims was enjoyed by all.

Next Day we visited Mumms Champagne, where many years ago Irish Distillers invented Champagne . Potty sent his wife to enthrall us in her red cape in the dungeon and later we marvelled the transformation when she shed the cape for a wolly jumper. We spent some time blasting around and up and down the main straight of what was the Track where the French GP (near the town of Gueux) was held in the 50s and 60s. Boy did we enjoy ourselves.

A short hop to Spa Francorchamps included a lap of the old GP circuit and a communal lunch at Stavelot. Creme Brullees all round. We were delighted to blag our way past the €25 entry fee for the practice for the Spa 6 Hr Historic Race Practice and also found one of our own, Lord Inchiquinn , Connor O' Brien who was racing his Aston DB 5.The night passed by without mishap in Liege where we were intrigued by the neuve architecture of the train station not to mention sipping beers ( and Jameson for me ) in the warm lively streets at 2 AM. We were joined by two local guerilla partisans, Fabian and JP in a aircooled 4 S with Dymags.

Friday saw us arrive at the Tiergarthen Hotel in Nürburg which was to be our HQ for the next 84 hrs. The first wave of Airborne joined us in the shape of Mick Magner (aka Michael Burke). He was wounded and low on supplies when he hit the ground, but not as wounded and low as our 14 large glasses of Warnsteiner when they hit the ground some hours later. Was'nt that barman a bol***x ! We were also joined by two Bills that had successfully landed a few days earlier and infiltrated the enemy camps where they pillaged the local wine.

Grub was good, Bleu Eche in Adeneau and hot stones in the Pistenklause. Many did laps in their own porkers or in german rented Clio/ Bmw s etc. A visit to the Nordsleiffe on Saturday saw us encounter a VLN Race, something not to be missed and perhaps one of the greatest form of motorsport still existing along with Irish Tarmac Rallying.

Monday departure saw a two pronged attack on northern france, a blitz on the Autobahn led by Sergeant Lane to the south produced a number of max recorded speeds over 250 KPH on the way to Paris while Minerva (aka Peter Kelly) led his group to a safer route north of Paris. Mike Dunnion in the 928 had earlier slipped away to lead a lone attack on Spain.

 

Highlights:

  • Getting off the Ferry and landing with 9 Porsche's on French soil
  • Normandy
  • Reims, the line of Irish Porsches at Mumms
  • Whippy taking a direct hit and getting up afterwards
  • The chit chat on the radios
  • Whippy again and his music
  • Mell for pulling strings
  • all the gorgeous girls we left behind
  • grid girls
  • VLN grid and the pit walkabout
  • Minerva's navigation skills
  • Denis for leading us astray and paying the same toll each twice, totally un needed. Agh !!!!
  • Fast safe driving and super plus unleaded 98
  • Aidan's plan and detailed list of everything we needed
  • Thinking we found a bargain restaurant in Paris, dinner for €16.50, it was awful. Lessson learned.
  • Denis for making us go to bed early in Par

David Whelan


21/09/2010

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