Coupe Eric Offenstadt; 24 – 26 July 2020
The first International event of 2020, after the European lockdown, has been the “Dix-Milles Tours”, organized by Peter Auto during the weekend of July 23-26, 2020.
A great numbers of cars (more than 350) of different categories raced at the event, including 22 FJ and F3 1000cc cars for the “Eric Offenstadt Cup”, a race dedicated to the eclectic French F3 driver of the ’60 Eric Offenstadt.
Considering that the FIA Lurani this year was cancelled due to the COVID-19 emergency, this race was a fantastic opportunity to race a Formula Junior in an International event and I was more than happy to participate with my little Wainer Fiat FJ, even if, being the only “C2” car with Fiat Engine, there was no chance to have a “battle” together with any of the other faster competitors.
So, Claudia and I loaded the Wainer in our trailer and reached the FJ/F3 family in the South of France!
The weather at the wonderful track of Paul Ricard was lovely: sunny but not too hot, due to a fresh “Mistral” wind that blew during the entire weekend.
On Friday the qualifications immediately revealed the level of the competitors: 3 F3 were leading the grid: Jeremy Timms, in a Chevron B15 was the “poleman” with 2:27.557, followed by Christoph Widmer in a Brabham BT18A and then Francois Derossi, with aChevron B17.
In 4th place, first of the FJ drivers and first of the Italians, was Tommaso Gelmini with Branca FJ; with reference to the other Italian drivers, Bruno Ferrari was in 11th with his Branca FJ, Emanuele Guglielminetti in a Wainer-Ford of ’63 was 14th and I was 19th; troubles for Angelo Delea with his Brabham BT14 F3, 20th, and for Andrea Guarino put him in last place with his Lotus 22.
After qualifying an appetizer was offered in the paddock by the organizers of F3 Historic, Christoph Widmer and Francois Derossi. It was a nice opportunity to share a drink and a chat with the other drivers, and to get to know some of the wonderful “Racing Families”!
First of all the “Timms” Family: Jeremy Timms, the poleman, and Jason Timms, 10th with a Brabham BT21, are, respectively, nephew and son of Jim Timms who, with a Brabham BT21, set the 5th fastest time but, unfortunately, he broke the engine. Jim started racing “late”, when he was 50 years old, but he spread his passion for historic racing with his entire family and now, being 84 year old, not only is he still a good racer (faster than his son!) but he manages the family Team, driving the Truck loaded with the racing cars all around the European race tracks!
And what about Christoph Widmer? He is the organizer of the F3 Historic Championship, a very nice and fast driver, he came to Paul Ricard together with all his beautiful family and his son, Austin Widmer, took part in his first ever race with a beautiful Lotus 61 FFord.
Three members of the Halusa Family, Lukas and Nikolas, with two Lotus 22 FJ’s, and Andreas with a Lotus 20 FJ raced with us, but they were racing also with some other wonderful cars in other categories so we did not meet them in our paddock …
We missed the best “Racing Family” of the FJ clan, the Rabagliati, but Sarah was a perfect organizer, virtually with us before and during all the weekend, assisting the competitors and sharing all the needed information during the entire race meeting!
Saturday afternoon we were on track for Race 1. Jeremy Timms immediately took the lead and won without any problem. Christoph Widmer kept his second place, while Francois Derossi hads some trouble on the 4th lap and was overtaken by Tommaso Gelmini who took third place and victory in the FJ Class.
I finished at the 17th place without problems.
After Race 1 Angelo Delea invited everyone to share a wonderful drink in the paddock to celebrate his 70th birthday: his fresh and delicious sparkling wine was perfect after such a hot race!
The last social event of the day was a fantastic dinner in a good French restaurant in the village of Le Beausset; during the dinner we had the opportunity to meet and to speak with Eric Offenstadt who delighted us with the stories of his extraordinary racing career!
On Sunday afternoon we were back on track for Race 2. It was really hot. The start was delayed for about one hour due to an accident in the previous race.
Our race started without problems. The first 3 places were the same as for Race 1: Jeremy Timms was the winner, followed by Christoph Widmer and Tommaso Gelmini.
I have a nice battle with Delea, who, due to some problems with his carburettors, was not really fast in the straight, allowing me to fight and to overtake him on the fourth lap … what fun!
I concluded the race in 17th place (first and only one in class C2!).
Everything was fine: it was a wonderful race weekend and my little Wainer did his job without any issue!
We had a lot of fun after a very sad period … and it was good to see so many drivers enjoining again the feeling of the race!
In the paddock we met new friends from different countries, we spoke with an extraordinary driver, Eric, and we met some “Racing Families” in which the passion for historic racing is transmitted from the old to the young generations … this provides some good hope for the future … and, in this period, we will need good hope for the future in all sectors of our life!!
And I hope to meet again soon on track all our racing friends!
by Carlo Del Conte.