Thursday, June 19, 2008

I love the long, long track, passing by odd artifacts of French countryside: methodical rows of high-branched trees, lush green knolls and ditches, little stone and tile structures to which there seems to be no access.

I went to Le Mans in 1975 and 1977. The memories blur but I remember the beautiful baby blue and orange Gulf Mirage that Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx drove to victory. I remember it was number 11 because I was fixated on the numbers too; the colors and the words and numbers. Blue, orange, Gulf, 11.

Dawn broke with cold gray skies and rain. We went over to the pits and I remember peering over and seeing the Gulf car from above. There were also blue Ligiers in the race, done up in the design of Gitanes cigarettes, with the silhouetted woman on the hood.

I remember telling my dad and brother that I was hungry enough to eat a horse but I don't know what we ate. At night the cars' headlights got mixed up with the lights from the ferris wheel and the fair.

In 1977 it was all about Porsche 936s with white, black and red Martini colors. Jacky Ickx won again. I remember sitting in the sun on the lawn to the right of the track after the first corner, waiting for hours, it seemed, for the race to start. In my memory the winning car crept to the finish line, stricken, moving a few miles an hour and held together with wires and tape.