A year ago, Octane reported that the historic circuit of Charade near Clermont Ferrand was under threat of closure. A small group of local residents was objecting to noise levels when the real motive was the property boom redevelopment could bring. These people were encouraged by years of slack management of a site apparently in irreversible decline. However they did not anticipate the outcry their move would provoke, the Agissons pour Charade campaign generating unprecedented national support.
As a result, under the aegis of the regional council, the Automobile club of Auvergne has taken over the day to day running of Charade and the council has pledged to improve its facilities. The noise issue seems to have been resolved by restricting usage. So in 2013, Charade will hold only three competitive gatherings, two rounds of historic championship series in May and September and a truck grand prix in July.
This year’s historic meeting on 29-30 September offered an impressive 230 entries spread over nine plateaux and some rather different fields from those seen at the Donington or Dijon historics. At Charade, Group 1 pitched BMW 635s against Camaros with an energetic supporting cast of Alfas, Golfs, Simcas and a splendid Volvo 122S. The Asavé challenge presented a gripping contest between Andréol’s 911SC and Boissy’s Mk1 Escort and historic single seaters, Minis and Alpines provided battles elsewhere.
Opened in 1958, Charade staged the French Grand prix four times before F1 moved to more synthetic tracks, but was rescued from semi-disuse in the late 1980s when it was cut from 8 to 4km. A superb uphill-down-dale circuit with the main straight descending into a hairpin, Charade which is about seven hours from Calais, could make a fine alternative to Spa for trackday devotees