Journal: Watch Vintage Racers Fly Around France’s Notorious Charade Circuit

Watch Vintage Racers Fly Around France’s Notorious Charade Circuit

By Michael Banovsky
December 17, 2015

Often described as France’s Nürburgring Nordschleife, the Charade Circuit was just as demanding as its larger German peer, and no less dangerous. It was 5 miles long, but by 1972 the lap record stood at an average speed of 103 mph, set in that year’s Formula 1 race. It may not seem like much, but it’s a monstrous speed for a circuit with 48 turns, where the longest straightaway was barely longer than a 1/4 mile drag strip.

The winding roads were helped by the fact that the track was constructed on the sight of an inactive volcano, and in this engaging mini-documentary, you can definitely appreciate the other-worldly, rocky landscape. The rocky landscape was hellish for a number of reasons: drivers would get motion sickness, it wasn’t possible to make runoff areas, and an accident meant that medical support was almost nonexistent.

This documentary was filmed during the F2 race in 1959 and featuring the likes of Sir Stirling Moss and Graham Hill, even though the commentary is in French, you don’t really need narration to see what’s happening. The race is covered from all angles, and—warning—Ivor Bueb’s fatal crash is briefly featured.  Another to pay attention to is Jean Behra, driving the beautiful blue (but tardy) Behra–Porsche, only weeks after his dismissal from the Ferrari factory team following an off-track dispute, and weeks before his death at Avus in Germany. A shame.

As always, the band plays on—in this case, for what it’s worth, the crowd, and post-race festivities look a bit muted. Top-flight series are far too fast for the circuit these days, but you can still race on a shortened and improved version of the circuit…

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Robert Lidstroem
Robert Lidstroem
8 years ago

I always get an unpleasant feeling in my stomach watching old documentarys as they show stuff hands on. The fatal crash is not nice to the eyes. But other than that great stuff.

8 years ago

Very entertaining. A definite contrast with the current boring atmosphere of F1 racing.

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