Joined In Jan 2019
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For any Le Mans fan this is a piece of history and worth the 30+ mile detour from your drive down the Mulsanne Straight to experience yet more nostalgia. The owners are really friendly and accommodating and will do their best to find you somewhere to sit for a quick coffee even on a busy day - but it's essential to book if you want lunch/dinner around the Le Mans events and in the summer. It's a great place to sit and watch some rather beautiful classic cars coming and going as other petrolheads come to soak up the atmosphere and see the memorabilia. The owners are excellent guardians of the history and are really keen to share this with visitors. So if you want to walk in the shoes of Jochen Rindt and Jackie Stewart it really is worth a stop. In the summer it gets pretty busy in the square. To avoid the mayhem we parked at Place Jeanne Bourin (from the West on the D305 just follow Centre Ville and P (65 places) signs). Parking is also available at Rue Jean Dorat (47°43'43.3"N 0°34'40.5"E).
As Lotus and Porsche Club members, the Bird in Hand is our 'local' club meeting place. It's easy to find, and in really easy reach of the A11 is you're travelling through. And between the A11 and the pub you can have some fun on the twists and turn around the Lotus factory! The large car park was upgraded a couple of years back and is much improved - we're not sure how many cars it can hold but parking is never a problem. The staff are very welcoming and used to having petrolheads and their cars on site. The menu in the bar and restaurant is excellent quality with some typical pub type dishes and lots of seasonal local produce. Great quality and great value, and a great place to stop off on a drive through the Norfolk.
We've visited Classic Team Lotus a few times, usually coupled with open days at the factory, the launch of the Evora, and when we've done our own driving experience on the Lotus Test Track. While Classic Team Lotus is a modern operation the history is palpable, and is brought to life by the amazing Bob Dance (aged 83), who has some great stories from his early days with Clive Chapman and Jim Clark. We guarantee you can't ask him a question he hasn't answered a hundred times before, and it's clear after all this time how much he loves his job and his life. For a taste of what you can expect have a look at Motorsport Magazine article: https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/august-2015/86/lunch-team-lotus-mechanics. CTL recently took on a new apprentice, and we know the tutor who, after being given the tour with his young charge just said, "I want a job there". Who wouldn't?!! Great place to visit. Highly recommended.
There are plenty of events throughout the year, many of which are quite relaxed. Major events such as BTCC or Superbikes are packed out, but others including HSCC are fairly quiet and Snetterton is a great place to enjoy them. It's not the greatest venue for spectators as the circuit is flat so the views aren't as extensive or interesting as at other circuits, and there is NO protection from the wind and rain so it can be pretty miserable in inclement weather! The BTCC two day mid-season test (free entry) is worth stopping for. It's a great circuit for track days with some nice bends and long straights and isn't too challenging for a novice (unless you want to pretend you're Ayrton Senna, in which case you need to get your racing lines perfect).
We drove ourselves sensible around the Lotus circuit a while back. What a fabulous time! When you're on a normal track day and you have to drive your car home, you always hold something back; but when Lotus give you one of their cars and you can red line it all day, well .... what's not to like! The "scare yourself" bit is really "a real driver showing you how it's done". You spend the day thinking you're doing really well, driving the nuts off the car, taking it to it's limit (which is really your limit), and having a whale of a time. Then the real driver gets behind the wheel and you realise the limit is WAY beyond anything you achieved. But that said, the instructors are great, you get plenty of time in the car, and it really is a fun (and pretty good value) thing to do for anyone who loves driving.
Every time we've been to the Reims circuit we've found a new treasure. The restoration team have done (and continue to do) a brilliant job at bringing this old relic back to life. There is plenty to explore and they provide information booklets to tell you about the history and the work they're doing (in English as well as other languages). It's a really busy main road - I wonder if the locals laugh at us tourists pulling up for a photo opp - but time it right and you can lose yourself in this ghostly place to soak up the history and get some great photos.
It isn't huge but what it lacks in size it makes up for in content with lots of original items you won't see elsewhere and a really original setting under the vaulted ceilings of the abbey. We opted for the paid parking on the main road as you drive into Stavelot, deciding that we'd rather not drive over the cobbled paving and risk an underground manoeuvre! The little town of Stavelot is a lovely place to wander and have a bite of lunch, and the abbey itself is also worth a visit while you're there.