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When Club President Dave Whelan, Porsche Club GB Motorsport Director, Irish Land Speed Record Holder Mel Nolan and Southern Organizer Denis Collins travelled to France for the Le Mans Classic we decided to add a history lesson and take in the main World War 2 battle sites in Normandy. We arrived 5 days before practice in my daughters Mercedes camper van, she offered it to us at the last minute as there was no accommodation available in a 20 mile radius of Le Mans. None of us had previously used a camper van and it proved invaluable as we were totally free to travel and stop when we choose.

We visited Utah and Omaha beaches where the Americans landed on D day. The place is filled with German bunkers, remains of tanks and planes all over the region. The American Cemetery has 9500 graves all marked with white marble crosses with the names of the deceased inscribed on them. It is impossible to describe the feeling when you first see the sheer scale of the place. It leaves you numb and humble and makes you understand the real meaning of war and how lucky our generation are to have not to have been involved .We then went on to Peagasus Bridge near Caen where 1st British assault took place late at night in glider planes and took the Germans totally by surprise.

There is a fantastic museum at the site and the original bridge has been moved 300 mts to this new site. This bridge featured in the famous war movie The Longest Day. We had our own private tour guide with Dave who has a huge knowledge of the area, and his army past is was very beneficial. He gave us history lesson at virtually every cross roads and river crossing. We visited Ste- Mere Eglise where a paratrooper landed on the church steeple and survived being shot and hanging for hours and eventually was taken down . To this day a dummy paratrooper and his paraschute are still hanging for the steeple. We also visited some beautiful towns like Barfleur, Grand Camp Maisy, Quineville and beautiful Bayeux where we went to see the famous tapestry that is 75 Mts long and tells the story of the Norman invasion of England in 1066 by William The Conqueror.

We then travelled to Le Mans on Thursday before the races and parked across from the main entrance in Bleu Nord with thousands of enthusiasts and we were able to walk back and forth from the race track to eat and sleep. Club Vice President Neil Lane joined us where he was on his way back from west coast on his holidays with his family . Every make of car and supercar was represented by their clubs and the all the mayor race cars from the period between 1930 and 1970 took part in practice and raced. Porsche was definitely the most popular race car with all the famous models from Jim Clarke’s 356 right up to 917’s, Moby Dick and last Porsche to win Le Mans GT1. We had pit passes and grandstand seating and were able to get close to the action and see the cars close up and get near to the action. It was fantastic to see these very valuable cars racing being put through their paces with no quarter given. They are the Mona Lisa’s of the automotive world and valued at 100,s of millions. There were 100’s of cars racing and the results are too extensive to list. To see the entries and race results go to

www.lemansclassic.com

We had our Porsche Club Ireland flag and signs hanging from our camper van and shortly after we camped up Robin Walker from Porsche Club GB and his wife Jo joined us as did a group from Porsche Club France. The atmosphere, racing and off track activity was fantastic and we can highly recommend the event next time around. 110,000 people attended and we also did some laps of the road section on Thursday night before road closing in Dave 2.7RS.It was a truly memorable event.

We travelled back to Chateau Whelan in Picuville on Sunday night to a beautiful BBQ. Big thanks to Dave, Vivienne, Katie and Daniel for entertaining us. On Monday we headed home and arrived back in Ireland on Tuesday night 9 days and 1850 kms later.

A Big thanks to all the crew we had a fantastic trip.

Denis Collins

Southern Organizer

Porsche Club Ireland


10/07/2010

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