Snapshot 18: Reims’ racing heritage

Wanderlust Picture Club - Snapshot 18

© Wanderlust Picture Club 2017

Absent-mindedly cruising through the French countryside, you might rightly be startled to find yourself suddenly on what feels like a film set.

Pit buildings, garages and grandstands loom large left and right, bedecked with advertising murals straight from the 60s, as cracks in the concrete give the first hints that this place is something strange.

While you might expect Steve McQueen to emerge from behind one of the deserted, crumbling stalls at any moment, this, in fact, is not Le Mans; rather, it’s Reims – or Circuit de Reims-Gueux.

First staging a race in 1926, during its near-50-year lifespan (the final race took place in 1972) Reims-Gueux saw a clutch of racing greats take victories across several Grands Prix – including names to set thrumming petrol-fuelled hearts: Moss, Stewart, Fangio, McLaren.

This is a relic of the golden age of racing, the shell of a place once home to roaring engines and the heady stench of race fuel, when temperamental speed machines barrelled along public roads (closed, of course) with little regard for safety.

It sits now quiet but not unloved. Besides a growing number of pilgrimages made by motorsport fans, a local committee is gradually, lovingly restoring this monument to its glory days.

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