It comes down to famous French racetracks, Montlhéry is certainly high up on the list. Yet for the most of ClassicCars.com readers, this 9.3-mile race track — complete with a high-banked oval — might not be so well known.
After The Great War (World War I), France, being at the forefront of automobile design and engineering, realized the need to move racing and speed testing off public roads and onto a specially designed track. So, in 1924, just on the outskirts of Paris, construction of a purpose-built speed temple began. Although the track was primarily used for high-speed testing, there were several races held during the interbellum.
It’s was on that between-the-wars period that was the focus of the Vintage Revival Monthléry. In the words of the original event founder, Jacques Potherat, “to gather as many friends as possible to come and play together with big toys.”
Now back in its third edition, this bi-annual event provides a relaxed atmosphere for seeing pre-war legends and Edwardian brutes back in its original décor on the banking of this famed track.
Billed as a pre-war car event, you might expect the event to have limited appeal. However, crowds were large and ranged from old to young who came to stare at the famous and also the obscure cars from the past. Naturally, the biggest bulk of cars came from French origin such as Bugatti, Salmson (featured marquee) and Amilcar, but there also was a plethora of Talbots, yes, the British ones, Sunbeams, Morgans and Austins could of course be found while wondering the fields.
Classes of vintage bikes, restored or still all-original, gave the visitors a great chance to learn about some rare and unknown motorcycles. Especially at an event like this, all the owners there were always up for a chat about the machinery that they brought along, ranging from a battered old race car where its owner just climbed out of with a huge smile on his face to nicely prepared classic car standing on the infield.
Photography by Dirk de Jager