Jump to content


Photo

The Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans and other "Mickey Mouse" tracks


  • Please log in to reply
24 replies to this topic

#1 eigar

eigar
  • Member

  • 33 posts
  • Joined: December 01

Posted 08 May 2003 - 09:33

The Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans hosted the French Grand Prix in 1967, but was never used again for F1 Grand Prix.

I remember from some some historic racing videos I have viewed, that the drivers in 67 did not like the circuit and called it a "Mickey Mouse" track. The drivers at that time were normally racing on road- og street-circuits. Was that the reason for not liking a constructed circuit such as Bugatti at Le Mans?

The Bugatti lay-out is not unlike modern circuits, and would most of the circuits used today be called "Mickey Mouse" tracks by the old drivers?

What is the use of the Bugatti Circuit today?

Advertisement

#2 Darren Galpin

Darren Galpin
  • Member

  • 2,140 posts
  • Joined: April 00

Posted 08 May 2003 - 09:36

The Bugatti circuit is used for French national championships today.

#3 Viktor

Viktor
  • Member

  • 3,392 posts
  • Joined: February 99

Posted 08 May 2003 - 09:47

MotoGP use it when thay are in France.

/Viktor

#4 Eric McLoughlin

Eric McLoughlin
  • Member

  • 1,622 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 08 May 2003 - 10:38

DSJ thought the "old" Hockenheim was Mickey Mouse. God knows what he'd think of the new one.

#5 bill moffat

bill moffat
  • Member

  • 1,407 posts
  • Joined: October 02

Posted 08 May 2003 - 10:48

20,000 spectators turned out to watch Blackie win the 1967 French GP on the Bugatti circuit. Some 310,000 spectated at the "proper" Le Mans race that year.....

Not a popular choice then, and with alternatives like Rouen and Clermont Ferrand hardly surprising. Was it all politically-driven (as was the ultimate move to Magny Bores) ?

#6 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 54,411 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 08 May 2003 - 11:22

Nivelles, Zolder, Barcelona... I think all these are among the many that were thought to be retrograde steps.

When you're fresh from the Nurburgring or Spa and have clear memories of Pescara, what else could you think?

#7 Peter Morley

Peter Morley
  • Member

  • 1,926 posts
  • Joined: October 02

Posted 08 May 2003 - 11:30

These days the Le-Mans Bugatti circuit is thought to be pretty good.
Seems it is old enough that it isn't anything like as bad as most modern circuits.
Modern cars are designed for slow twisty circuits, which the Bugatti circuit was relative to it's peers.

In 67 you were talking about some really serious circuits like full Spa, full Nurburgring, and France had (? not sure of exact dates) some really great tracks - Clermont Ferrand, Rheims, Rouen etc. it would have been similar to seeing the real Nurburgring and being told you must drive on the current thing.

Along these lines: I can't get excited by the news that the people who built the Hungaroring (etc.) are building the new circuits coming into F1!!

#8 marat

marat
  • Member

  • 311 posts
  • Joined: February 03

Posted 08 May 2003 - 13:38

The 1967 french GP was the last GP organized by the "Automobile Club de France" (ACF) and they
decided to have it held on the same place as the first one (in 1906): Le Mans.
The "Circuit Bugatti" was built to have a permanent track in France and to host a driving school.
The use of the 24 hours circuit would have been a worse choise with only 15 cars on a near 15
Kilometer track.

#9 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 08 May 2003 - 20:20

Originally posted by marat
The 1967 french GP was the last GP organized by the "Automobile Club de France" (ACF) and they
decided to have it held on the same place as the first one (in 1906): Le Mans.

Wait a sec... Are you suggesting the ACF knew it wouldn't organise any more Grands Prix? That is against my recollection of the events in 1968...

[although, of course, I have only read about the situation - I was just 1 year old then ;)]

#10 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 54,411 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 08 May 2003 - 21:32

I was born a little earlier, but like you I also only read about it Michael...

The temptation was there for me to ask this same question... 'Did they know it was the last?' but I was restrained because I should have remembered more of those circumstances.

There was a war on in France over the rights to the GP, for sure... from memory there had been GPs run other than by the ACF, then they held sway again, but obviously were soon to lose it...

Much and all as you might not like to have him to dinner, you need to pick up the story about the whole affair in Motor Sport and read Jenks' explanation written at the time...

#11 DOHC

DOHC
  • Member

  • 11,891 posts
  • Joined: February 02

Posted 08 May 2003 - 22:38

Originally posted by Peter Morley
In 67 you were talking about some really serious circuits like full Spa, full Nurburgring, and France had (? not sure of exact dates) some really great tracks - Clermont Ferrand, Rheims, Rouen etc. it would have been similar to seeing the real Nurburgring and being told you must drive on the current thing.


And not only that, but the race distances were longer too. IIRC Spa, Monza, the Glen, and maybe a few more were close to 400 km races.

#12 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 54,411 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 08 May 2003 - 22:52

Actually they weren't...

The Italian GP at 312kms was one of the long ones, IIRC. 400km races were in the past by this time.

#13 DOHC

DOHC
  • Member

  • 11,891 posts
  • Joined: February 02

Posted 09 May 2003 - 11:02

No Ray, Clark ran out of fuel on lap 68 -- the last. So the race was 68 laps of the 5,750 m Monza track, for a race distance of 391 km.

And the US GP was even longer, 108 laps @ 3,701 m, total distance 399.8 km. The US GP wasn't shortened until 1971.

#14 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 54,411 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 09 May 2003 - 11:09

The trouble I get into when I don't have my magazines handy to check my brainwaves...

Thanks for the correction.

#15 DOHC

DOHC
  • Member

  • 11,891 posts
  • Joined: February 02

Posted 09 May 2003 - 12:27

In addition, the drivers kept themselves busy. In Tipler's bio of Graham Hill, you find his race calendar too. Most of the time he drove some 40 races per year, worldwide, in different classes.

The tracks were longer, the races were longer, and the drivers drove more races, without driving aids. When the flag dropped, the driver was on his own and had to fight it all the way to bring it home. He was not a passenger in a vehicle, controlled electronically and by radio from the pits.

OK, let's grant the modernists that the G-forces were smaller.

Those were the days!

#16 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 54,411 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 09 May 2003 - 12:38

Don't forget that they generally lacked the luxury of a motorhome during the time they weren't in the car, too...

No personal trainers, no Lear jets...

#17 DOHC

DOHC
  • Member

  • 11,891 posts
  • Joined: February 02

Posted 09 May 2003 - 12:48

Originally posted by Ray Bell
no Lear jets...


Didn't Jackie Stewart pilot a Lear jet already in 1966, or is my memory getting rusty?

#18 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 54,411 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 09 May 2003 - 12:50

I sincerely doubt it... he certainly didn't have one in Australia that year.

In fact, I'd say there's more than just a fair chance that he didn't fly anything at that stage at all. And I'm not even sure there were Lear jets then either.

#19 DOHC

DOHC
  • Member

  • 11,891 posts
  • Joined: February 02

Posted 09 May 2003 - 16:19

My memory is getting rusty -- it was 1965! Tony Rudd has the picture in It was fun! (p. 143) with JYS at the Learjet's controls on their flight from Watkins Glen to NYC.

Advertisement

#20 WDH74

WDH74
  • Member

  • 1,162 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 09 May 2003 - 17:29

I think the drivers referred to the LeMans Bugatti course as a "Mickey Mouse" track because it was obvioulsy "constructed". The only other really good example I can think of is the Las Vegas course in the parking lot at Caesar's Palace. You can almost hear the committee deciding how to lay it out:
"Let's see now, we should have a straight here, but not too long, maybe a chicane, no, just another hairpin. How much more distance do we need? Let's loop it over this way..." There just wasn't the "natural" feel to the track like other courses out there. Think about the other race tracks in use at the time (and not just the ones on that year's GP calendar, but anywhere someone may have had the chance to race during the sixties) Brands Hatch, Road America, Clermont-Ferrand, Laguna Seca, Oulton Park, Goodwood, The Glen, Osterreichring, and on and on.
Even though those places were "designed", they retain a feel for the topography of the surrounding land, whereas places like Caesar's Palace and LeMans Bugatti (and other's I'm sure) just don't.
-William
PS-was Graham Hill flying his Aztec by '67?

#21 Barry Boor

Barry Boor
  • Member

  • 10,893 posts
  • Joined: October 00

Posted 09 May 2003 - 20:08

Viktor said:

MotoGP use it when thay are in France.


As I am sure many people know, they actually run the motor cycle 24 HOUR race on the Bugatti circuit!!!!

The winner does about 700 laps!!!!! :stoned:

#22 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 54,411 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 09 May 2003 - 22:09

Better than that... they let you walk over sections of it during the 24-hour race.

You can buy pomme frites on it, look at discarded practice cars on it, stroll through the carpark on it, even find the white edge lines on it... all in the course of enjoying your 24-hours of amazement.

Getting back to Jackie Stewart and the Lear jet... he only entered the BRM team in 1965, right?

I don't think he had any aircraft at all when he came here in 1966... we'd had so much press about Clark learning to fly here the previous year, they would have said something about it.

#23 Peter Morley

Peter Morley
  • Member

  • 1,926 posts
  • Joined: October 02

Posted 10 May 2003 - 10:10

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Actually they weren't...

The Italian GP at 312kms was one of the long ones, IIRC. 400km races were in the past by this time.


Whatever the distance the races were certainly a lot longer.

Around 3 hours would have been a normal race length (none of this stopping after 2 hours in case the poor dears are getting tired driving their automatic cars! - alright, that is because the TV people want to go home by then and who can blame them, I find it hard to stay awake during a modern GP) .

Admittedly the cars were slower but the tracks were much faster so their average speeds wouldn't have been so much lower, so race distances must have been longer.

#24 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 54,411 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 10 May 2003 - 11:49

Indeed, the maximum time allowed today is the same as the minimum of those days...

#25 Vitesse2

Vitesse2
  • Nostalgia Forum Moderator

  • 24,507 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 10 May 2003 - 12:47

Originally posted by WDH74
PS-was Graham Hill flying his Aztec by '67?


He certainly was. It was bought with his Indy 500 winnings - straight off the production line IIRC.