Circuit des Remparts d’Angoulême: Passion blows through the city!

Circuit des Remparts d'Angoulême: Passion blows through the city!

The 50th Edition of the meeting took place from September 16 to 18. Rooted in the city’s historical heritage, the event brought together a collection of exceptional cars spanning 100 years of automotive history.


D-3 The sound and the fury reach the city

As if to announce autumn, the ritual roar of racing cars makes the Charente countryside tremble. Caravans forming a total of nearly 300 collector vehicles including more than 100 racing cars met in the Cité des Valois. A demanding program converging with the Heritage Days infuses the city with a fervor worthy of a jubilee.
The sun is out. An ideal sky covers the Competitors park, the race office and the stands. The stands of the partners organized in Gallic villages, will soon welcome all of Europe around motorsport to celebrate performance and mechanical engineering. At the height of the weekend, 11,000 people breathed in the smoke from the hydrocarbons and shuddered at the explosions of the engines.

D-2 Kick-off of this 50th edition, the festivities start on Friday evening with the Concours d’Élégance.

It’s the International Class that slides on the improvised esplanade in the middle of the Champs de Mars in a modern decor of a shopping mall. The mix of genres and improvised sketches enliven two hours of show with 33 vehicles and their crews in uniform, coming from fifteen different countries to present nearly a century of automobile industry from 1902 to 1984. The nasal music and the spitting sound are connected.
Before the eyes of 2,000 spectators, time flies, pushed by unique specimens in the world like this impressive 1920 Ballot resembling a cigar on wheels, which participated in the Indianapolis 500 miles. She won the Excellence Award. And other beautiful sedans with spare wheels glued to the door like in the comics. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider 1961 convertible red, owned by two young people from Angoumois won the support of the jury in its category.
An unconventional show that extends beyond the podium, otherwise where can you come across an aristocrat in pageantry delivering to the curious the secrets of her authentic Talbot 1931?

D-1 Saturday is dedicated to the start of the Rallye International de Charente, divided this year into 4 lines per era: the Doyennes for cars before 1914; the Legends for cars up to 1949, and the international rally which brings together cars after 1959.

Three routes adapted for each category criss-cross the southwest from Chabanais to Segonzac. The trick makes it possible to attract more pre-war cars and bring fluidity by taking into account the skill constraints of each category. To close this timeless gap, the rally club also traces the road with modern vehicles: jaguars, porches among other anthology vehicles complete the tour of this mobile open-air museum.
Who wants to travel back in time does not miss the passage of the long convoy. It measures a century of automobile.
For the first time, the arrival is announced at the RIMA (Marine Infantry Regiment), open for the occasion of the Heritage Days. A guard of honor is formed by tanks that the kids have climbed naturally. A disarming charm reigns in this centuries-old barracks with secret buildings.

Some exceptional models dry out the mobile museum for the Place Saint Martial where the State Competition takes place which gauges the authenticity of the machines on the aspects: Bodywork, Mechanics, and Interior.
A collegial jury made up of 6 members (3 licensees of the FFVE – French Federation of Vintage Vehicles – and 3 Angoumois professionals specialized in the restoration of historic cars), officiate in pairs to examine the 14 venerable self-drive cars. No modification or improvement must have altered the period characteristics. Only restorations conforming to the origin of the vehicle are allowed, without exception.
Not even for the pre-war Lorraine-Dietrich which required 30 years of restoration from father to son. Only the engine that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1925 is original, the other parts, although authentic and numbered, were imported on the model presented. She won a victory of honor, but the reconstruction did not pass the test of the experts: « no matching number ».
The surprise comes from the 1952 4CV “paid leave” which provokes the “coup de coeur”. It was this quirky-looking car that made its way to the podium. Popular in its time, it was judiciously accessorized to go camping with its luggage gallery and its trailer from which escape parasol and fishing rod. The Grand Prix d’Excellence is awarded to the prestigious and rare ALFA 2600 for its impeccable restoration which lasted 10 years. A prize list dedicated to know-how, but also to transmission.

D-Day: see history run

Angoulême is a vertical citadel crowned like a diadem by its Romanesque cathedral, and corseted with ramparts tied to the west by a 1279 meter lace: the original route of the Circuit des Remparts.
It was on this promontory of Charente that a band of intrepid people challenged themselves in 1939 to improvise a speed race by bringing the racing cars of the time to Angoulême.
Did this small circle of enthusiasts imagine that virtuoso drivers such as Juan Manuel FANGIO, Maurice TRINTIGNANT or Jean-Pierre WIMILLE would come and chase the clock with the equivalent of today’s « Formula 1 »?
In 2022, the 50th Edition of the Circuit des Remparts continues to tell history, demonstrating human genius and mechanical performance spanning nearly a century of technological design. A modernist vision for the time.
The Circuit International Automobile des Remparts, the Grand Prix d’Angoulême, etc. was successively renamed, but it kept its name Circuit des Remparts in the hearts of Angoumoisins and drivers.
80 years of motorsport history with interruptions: the war, the dramatic accident at the 24 Hours of Mans in 1955, political fashions and other societal issues (pollution, noise, legislation), or simply the financial difficulties of certain associations… realization of the manifestation is a wonder and a test in itself.
Exception to the French, this historic race is the mark of old pilots still known, and at the same time it makes discover the pilots of today and tomorrow like Romain Dumas or Matthieu Vaxivière, the new wave.
When a century slowly dissolves into the next century, there remain the enthusiasts who turn the march of history into art, the only thing that survives an era. Hats off to the artists.

Pole Position, the highlight of the weekend. Race report.

8 a.m. near the track, a few enthusiasts fell out of bed. The staff is already in turmoil. The fever rises in the paddock, and the backfire of the engines is contained while waiting for placement on the pre-grid.
Organized by the ASA des Remparts (automotive sports association), the races take place all day under the aegis of the FFSA (French Motorsport Federation). The morning is reserved for the tests, the afternoon for the competition. The competitors, spread over 9 race and demonstration grids, try out the circuit for 20 minutes, which will determine their positions on the starting grid for a 20-minute competition.
This year, a few demonstration sets came to put on a show with champions from the 70s and 80s, invited for the 50th. Among them: Ari Vatanen (multi-world rally champion nicknamed the “Flying Finn”), Jean-Pierre Larier (winner of 134 Grands Prix), Jean Ragnotti (the rally driver nicknamed “the Acrobat”) and Pierre Petit (French Formula 3 champion).
At 1 p.m., the stands are full. Honor to the Austin Seven centenarians for leading the way. The popular British released like a swarm of buzzing bees delivered a great confrontation with a duel less than a second apart at the finish. The Bugattis, still spectacular pre-war machines, fought fiercely. Among the competitors, husband and wife each compete sportingly at the wheel of their racing car. Single-brand grids, including the R5 Turbo, heat up the asphalt and a few variegated grids from the greatest manufacturers of the 20th century literally slide on this infernal merry-go-round: Porsche, Jaguar, Lotus, Austin Healey, Alpine, Chevrolet, Citroën, Peugeot, Renault, Lancia, Mazda, Audi, Lada, Opel, Talbot, but also Riley, BMW, Amilcar, Audi, MG, …
Launch, acceleration, traffic jam, stop, restart, we witness a few crashes at the hairpin of the chestnut tree, daring doublings at the Fangio bend, sparks ready to ignite the wheels underlining the acceleration in front of the cathedral, and rare packages. A torn bumper, an engine on fire, and some nasty rustling of sheet metal later… At 6.32 p.m., validation of the times, the FFSA closes the times. “Everything went well, like clockwork,” explains Race Commissioner Gilles Chabernaud. Nothing to discuss for the Race Direction, barely Raphaël Favaro’s exit from the track, who got squeezed. Apart from the driving technique, the disparity of the cars complicates the race. « The vehicles don’t have the same agility or the same power. » We quickly find in front of us the slowest who have to anticipate their maneuver at the bend. The event is settled quickly: “It’s a fact of the race”, Exit “under safety car”.
The spectacle held in suspense until the apotheosis of the last GT/GTS race, with demonic energy. When the announcer announces a stabilized classification a few laps from the finish, the prospective champion who dominates at the wheel of his Lotus as powerful as it is light is locked up by a latecomer. Throw the dice! Despite his impeccable driving, the victory was taken by Damien Kohler. The local child wins his 10th trophy here, and dedicates it to Just Jaeckin, who died this year, from whom he bought the Porsche Diva. Trophy won fairly, because the game only requires fault.
Thus, the Circuit des Remparts 2022 comes to an end, the public is jubilant under a radiant sky.


5 distinctive signs of the Circuit des Remparts d’Angoulême
An urban layout unchanged since 1939
Juan Manuel Fangio, World Champion triumphed there in 1950
Racing vehicles that tell the story of a century of automobiles
An event that favors proximity with the drivers and their cars
This is the 50th edition! The event has had several interruptions since 1939

The Circuit des Remparts in 5 figures
1939: 1st edition of cars and motorcycles
1279 meters of circuit
200 km/h, maximum homologation speed
20 minutes of laps per race board
52 »80 »’ the absolute lap record is held by a woman Michèle Mouton in a Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Factory


A vibrant tribute to Heritage Days

The excitement has also taken over public places in a permanent show. Heritage Days coincided with the festival this year. Exhibitions, conferences, competitions, master-classes… A teeming program of free access events testifies that history has talent, in particular:
“Completely DINGO” exhibition, pictures suspended between buildings, particularly in rue Hergé. Goofy, the artist of the poster also hosted 2 master classes and a drawing competition to share the secrets of his work,
Exhibition « 100th anniversary of the First Crossing of the Sahara » at the Angoulême museum and in its courtyard,
Outdoor exhibition on the city plateau of around twenty jaguars, and a concentration for the centenary of the Austin Seven,
Conference “Citroën Expeditions: memories and heritage in the collections of the Musée du Quai Branly”,
“Remparts” photo exhibition by Philippe B – Biscuiterie Lolmède,
« Flying car » photo exhibition by O.Zwilling at the Golf d’Angoulême,
Photo exhibition by Jeffbone on the forecourt of Angoulême Cathedral.


Photo credit: Thanks to ©Quentin Petit / Charente Libre

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