When politics and racing collide… (via Joe Saward’s Grand Prix Blog)Posted: February 28, 2011
Back in December, at my parents’ Christmas party, I mentioned to a family friend I was going to Le Mans. Mom and Dad have known Anne and Francois Chandou for about 15 years, and in that time, they’ve become close friends. With a name like Francois Chandou, you can pretty much tell he’s not from around here. As soon as I mentioned Le Mans, he asked if I’ve got everything booked. Not yet. “Well, don’t do it yet, I have a friend I want you to speak with”. OK.
A week goes by, and I get an e-mail from Francois telling me to contact his friend Jacques. Jacques…who’s Jacques? “Jacques Grelley…he raced in Le Mans.” After a quick Google, my ears perk up and my tail starts wagging. Jacques Grelley is not only a former Le Mans racer, he’s also a survivor of the 1955 disaster at Le Mans (more on that later), an automobile memorabilia dealer, and overall auto adventurist. Auto adventurist? Yea…you try driving a 1978 Citroen 8,000 miles from Bejing to Bombay in 33 days.
Anyway, Francois gives me Jacques’ phone number and says he’s expecting my call. I do a little more research on Jacques, print off various stories get them all lined up in front of me and give him a call. After a quick introduction, he begins telling me all sorts of incredible racing stories. From his racing experiences at Le Mans and other tracks to what happened in 1955 to his art business to where I need to stand and what I need to wear when I visit Le Mans. Over the course of the conversation, he tells me about his friend Juan Manuel Fangio.
Over the years, Jacques and Juan Manuel forged a friendship. So much so, that when word got back to Jacques that Juan Manuel’s health was failing in 1995, he flew to Argentina to visit Juan Manuel. He passed shortly thereafter. Jacques has several other stories about his friend Juan Manuel Fangio, including what happened at the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix. Which brings me to this post.
I found this blog post the other day and I wanted to share it with you. It’s a great read and with the recent developments in Bahrain and the cancellation of the F1 race there, it carries a bit of significance these days. Can you imagine what would happen if Alonso, Hamilton or Schumacher were kidnapped?
One last note about Anne and Francois, they own La Cave Warehouse – a rare and fine wine store here in Dallas. Check them out: www.lacavewarehouse.com.