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Normandy Beach Race, Ouistreham, F

Les citoyens of Ouistreham are by now pretty well used to the noise of tanks and Willys jeeps rolling over their endless beaches, what with all the memorial days and anniversaries of the D-Day landings going on, Sword Beach being nearby.

For a change this last weekend a bunch of peaceful hotrods and vintage motorcycles filled in to produce the usual pratt-pratt and vroom-vroom. Even our very own Paul with his '41 FL Knucklehead did his best to keep up the decibel levels.

Very magnifique we say,

that our French friends organizing this event managed to convince Monsieur le Maire (the town mayor) to allow this race with classic and vintage vehicles on the beach. For this premiere they pulled out all the stops and produced a true spectacle. As the eligibility for vehicles was a manufacturing date up to 1947, and pilots and attending public were encouraged to wear period dress, the event had a thoroughly authentic feel. Marshals in vintage overalls and flag girls wearing period style nothings, together with the checkered pylons did the rest to convince the many, many spectators that they had turned back in time.

Alors, the obligatory tech inspection

was taking place in the quaint town square of Ouistreham, right in front of the hotel de ville (the mayor's office) and the local police station, whose inhabitants showed only polite interest in the proceedings. After everything was tout controlée and checked, the first Pernods helped to start the French soirée. But, with a 7:30 drivers' briefing looming next morning, the night promised to be short, so excesses were not encouraged.

Le soleil shining brightly

on the beach, last informations were handed out to drivers and riders, there was a walkabout on the track and at 9.00 sharp the sand started to fly. Alternating in pairs between cars and bikes, the competitors were careering down the 1/8 mile in, fishtailing through the dry and bumpy sand. This track isn't as hard as, say, Daytona Beach or Rømø, and kept riders and drivers on their toes, but of course that was the fun of it. Once across the line, vehicles made their way back to the start right alongside the track, to rejoin the pre-start queue, to do it all over again, which was exactly what riders were doing.

The track was busy all day,

apart from the unavoidable French lunch break. The spectators were having a great time, the food trucks and bistros on the beach were doing a roaring trade, and the season was having one last high point. At 5 pm the last chequered flag came down, concluding an exciting and accident free day. Chapeau! Straight from the racing action everyone switched into party mode, and Ouistreham was having a few very happy hours in the evening.

What a day, what a race! In case you do it again, give us a call, we'll be there. À bientôt, les gars!