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Aston Martin repeats history at Hotel de France

7 June, 2015

For a period spanning a decade — between 1953 and 1963 — the Aston Martin race team for the 24 Hours of Le Mans would set up shop at Hotel de France at La Chartre-sur-le-Loir. What did this entail? Well, in the more relaxed days of yesteryear, the team’s drivers and mechanics would prepare their cars in the hotel courtyard before driving them — on public roads, no less — to the circuit.

Image: Drew Gibson

Following Aston Martin’s final days in the town, it remained a mecca for those with petrol in their veins. Unfortunately, the Aston Martin team didn’t return — until now. It is 52 years on, and history is repeating itself.

Image: Drew Gibson

After two days of testing at Le Mans, Aston Martin have returned to recreate some of the 1950’s most famous photo and film footage of their cars being prepared at the hotel — the 2015 effort stars the team drivers, Kiwi racer Richie Stanaway, Darren Turner, and Mathias Lauda, along with three of Aston Martin Racing’s Vantage GTEs.

Image: Drew Gibson 

Chairman of Aston Martin Racing David Richards says, “The Hotel de France is an important part of Aston martin’s motorsport heritage.

“This year, we wanted to recreate the nostalgia of those days, when the racing cars had their final preparations alongside the hotel before being driven some 40km to the circuit, along public roads.”

Motorsport Flashback – Kiwi rallying in the 1970s

Rallying arrived in New Zealand in 1973 like a tsunami. It had been only a few years since the sport was introduced here and shortly afterwards Heatway came on board as the sponsor to take rallying to a new level. The 1973 Heatway would be the longest and biggest yet, running in both islands with 120 drivers over eight days and covering some 5400 kilometres. The winner was 31-year-old Hannu Mikkola — a genuine Flying Finn who had been rallying since 1963 before putting any thoughts of a career on hold until he completed an economics degree. The likeable Finn became an instant hero to many attracted to this new motor sport thing. I was one of them.

Think of it as a four-door Cooper

New Zealand Mini Owners Club coordinator Josh Kelly of Dunedin loves his Minis. It’s a family affair. Julie and Mike, Josh’s mum and dad, are just as keen, and they can usually all be found taking part in the club’s annual ‘Goodbye, Pork Pie’ charity run from the North of the country to the South.
But lately Josh’s young head has been turned by some other revolutionary BMC cars. He has picked up a couple of Austin and Morris 1100 and 1300s, which he started to restore — that was until an opportunity arose to buy a rare example stored in a shed.