A highlight of the agenda for any car enthusiast, the annual weekend of the “Circuit des Remparts” celebrated its 50th edition, which took place from 16 to 18 September. Steeped in Angouleme’s historic heritage, this fantastic event sees exceptional cars spanning 100 years of motoring history race down the ancient winding roads of this beautiful hilltop city.
The Circuit des Remparts is an unmissable event on the calendar for vintage car enthusiasts. The competition was conceived in 1938 and its project developed in 1938 and 1939 by the Automobile Club of Deux-Sèvres, Charente and Vendée (ACDSCV) under the name ” The cycle of violence“. Contested for the first time in 1939, this urban speed test, car and motorcycle (sometimes supplemented by a bicycle test), was interrupted by the 39-45 war. It was resumed in 1947 and gained a strong celebrity as soon as it was relaunched thanks to the presence on the starting line of the best drivers of the time (especially Fangio and Trintignant).
Relaunched in 1978, the Circuit des Remparts is gradually becoming an international class car event, bringing together historic cars from all eras, competing either on the track or during elegance and restoration competitions, or during several exhibitions in the city and at several tourist rallies of historic vehicles in the Charente landscape. It has been held every year since and has the distinction of being the last race of its type, with only Monaco and Pau offering high-speed street racing in French cities.
In 2022, they were 50e edition of the famous Circuit des Remparts weekend in Angoulême. This is not only a historic race, but also a celebration with competitions, a scenic classic car race through the Charente countryside and a full day of vintage and classic car racing around the historic circuit of Angoulême. The organizers have made every effort to transform Angoulême’s city center into a circuit with a demanding layout that has remained unchanged since 1939, and this 50e the Circuit des Remparts edition continues to tell this story, demonstrating human ingenuity and mechanical performance through nearly a century of technological design.
Angoulême is a vertical citadel crowned like a diadem by its Romanesque cathedral and ramparted cross linked to the west by a 1,279-metre cord that forms the original route of the Circuit des Remparts. The course itself is very demanding, winding around the city wall and offering two right-angled turns and three hairpins. A colorful collection of historic cars enlivened the city’s streets and driveways and, as with many historic motorsport events, participants and spectators had to dress accordingly.
Friday, Concours d’Elegance
The festivities kicked off on Friday with the ‘Elegance Parade’ where owners had the opportunity to show off their shiny cars; prizes were awarded to the best presented car and driver. The cars were parked all over the city center and it was a great opportunity to get up close and chat with the owners before the more exciting race day.
In almost two hours of non-stop spectacle, 33 vehicles and their uniformed crews from fifteen different countries came to present almost a century of the automotive industry from 1902 to 1984. Under the eyes of 2,000 spectators, time spun … driven by examples that are unique in the world, such as. as the impressive Nerd from 1920, which looks like a cigar on wheels, which ran in the Indianapolis 500. She won the Excellence Award. And other beautiful sedans with a spare tire stuck to the door like in the cartoons. The red convertible Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider 1961, belonging to two young people from Angoumois, won the support of the jury in its category.
Saturday, International Rally of the Charente
The highlight of the weekend for many spectators, Saturday is the inevitable day of the Rallye International de la Charente, a health walk in which around 300 cars take part, including more than 100 racing cars. For this year, the rally has been divided into 4 lines per era… the deans for cars before 1914, legends for cars up to 1949, and the international convention which includes cars after 1959.
The itinerary was announced a few days in advance and includes a stop for a hearty lunch at one of the tourist spots in the region. The cars returned to Angoulême in the late afternoon and excellent picnic stops were set up along the way to the delight of the spectators. At the height of the weekend, 11,000 people inhaled the fumes from the hydrocarbons and shuddered at the explosions of the engines.
Three routes adapted to each category cross southwest from Chabanais to Segonzac. The trick allows attracting more pre-war cars and bringing fluid speed by taking into account the skill limitations of each category. To fill this timeless void, the rally club also tracks the route with modern vehicles: Jaguar, Porsche among other classic vehicles complete the trip to this mobile open-air museum.
Sunday, race day – Circuit des Remparts
Although the Rallye international de la Charente is adored for its 300 cars parading through the streets for spectators to watch, the real highlight was Sunday, race day at the famous Circuit des Remparts, the former street circuit around the walled city of Angoulême. Each year the races include a variety of classes and vehicles, including historic F1 and GT sports cars.
Organized by the ASA des Remparts (Motor Sports Association), the races take place throughout the day under the auspices of the FFSA (French Motor Sports Federation). The morning is reserved for the tests, the afternoon for the competition. Competitors, divided into 9 race and demonstration grids, experience the circuit for 20 minutes, which will determine their position on the starting grid for a 20-minute competition.
This year, a couple of demonstration sets came to do a show with masters from the 70s and 80s, invited to the 50th.e. Among them: Ari Vatanen (multi-world rally champion nicknamed “The Flying Finn”), Jean-Pierre Larier (winner of 134 Grands Prix), Jean Ragnotti (the rally driver nicknamed “The Acrobat”) and Pierre Petit (French Formula 3 champion) ).
At 1 pm the stands are full. Honor to the hundred yearsAustin Seven that paved the way. Disguised as a swarm of buzzing bees, the popular Brit produced a fine showdown with a duel less than a second apart at the finish. That Bugatti, still spectacular pre-war machines, fought hard. Among the competitors, husband and wife compete in sportsmanship at the wheel of their racing car. Single-brand calendars, including R5 turboheat up the tarmac and some colorful grilles from the biggest manufacturers of the 20th centurye century literally slide on this infernal merry-go-round: Porsche, Jaguar, Lotus, Austin Healey, Alpine, Chevrolet, Citroën, Peugeot, Renault, Lancia, Mazda, Audi, Lada, Opel, Talbot, but also Riley, BMW, Amilcar, Audi, MG…
At 18:32, validation of the times, FFSA closes the times. The spectacle is kept in suspense until the apotheosis of the final GT/GTS race, with demonic energy. When the announcer announces a stabilized classification a few laps from the finish, the future champion who dominates at the wheel of his Lotus as powerful as it is, light is locked away by a straggler. Despite his impeccable driving, the victory went to Damien Kohler. The country’s child wins his 10th heree trophy, which he dedicates to Just Jaeckin, who died this year, from whom he had bought Porsche Diva.
Conferences and exhibitions
The excitement has also invested public spaces in a permanent show. This year Heritage Days coincided with the festival. Exhibitions, conferences, competitions, master classes… A teeming program of events with free admission testifies that history has talent. Among these events, Absolutely RIDICULOUS », an exhibition of paintings suspended between buildings, especially rue Hergé. Cool, the poster artist also hosted 2 master classes and a drawing competition to share the secrets behind his work.
Other exhibitions were held, i.a. 100e the anniversary of the first crossing of the Sahara » at the Angoulême Museum and in its courtyard, or even an open-air exhibition on the plateau of the city of about twenty Jaguarand a concentration for the 100th anniversary of itAustin Seven. Citroën also gave a lecture entitled ” Citroën expeditions: memories and heritage in the collections of the Quai Branly Museum “. Finally, several photo exhibitions decorated the weekend with some historical nuggets, such as the photo exhibition ” Fighting » by Philippe B – Biscuiterie Lolmède, the one by O.Zwilling entitled « Flying car at the Golf d’Angoulême, or at the forecourt of the Angoulême Cathedral.