Photos & Musings: Grands Prix

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Namur, & the legend that is Carla

This photo can only be Namur. This is the Chalet du Monument, down at the bottom. For those of you that don’t know, Eric Geboers is racing along a solid tarmac/asphalt road, which leads from the city up to the top of the Citadelle. It was slippery, of course, and is now covered with dirt for the GP. But, as one rider put it, “If I crash on the road section the worst that will happen is that I skin my elbows. If I hit a tree I might die”. But still the FIM decided to leave the trees but cover the road, which ruined part of the track’s character in my opinion.

The Chalet was where most of the large contingent of British fans hung out. Namur had the best atmosphere for a British rider. So many fans would make the journey and they’d be spread out around the track and especially down at the Chalet. I would be so pumped to race at Namur. I couldn’t wait to get out there. I’d be lined up in the pit box 45 minutes before first practice, just to be the first guy out. The fans would be bursting with anticipation and I can imagine that sitting down at the bottom, and hearing the Braaap of the two stroke 500s echoing through the trees as they worked they way down must have been spine-tingling. To be the first rider to explode out of the forest and hit the road full gas, with air horns blasting, and flags waving, was amazing.

Thc Chalet was also where Hakan Calqvist stopped for a beer en route to his double win in 1988. The stuff of legend, it really did happen, and there is even a video clip at Youtube.

Hakan was very cool. He had not had his best season leading up to this race. However, he knew that he would be good at Namur. Rather than park in the main part of the pits he instead parked his truck out in the woods, near the mid-point of the track. From there his mechanic Jens could jump over the fence and meet Hakan in the woods, halfway round the lap. All through practice any fast laps he did would start and finish there, rather than in the Citadelle, where all the other teams and officials were timing from. Hence, nobody knew just how fast he was going because he never crossed the official timing line twice at speed. Thorpe said he knew he was fast though as he’d followed him and couldn’t keep up!

Hakan went on to win both motos and even had time to stop on the last lap to grab the pre-arranged beer from his brother. It was something that he had always wanted to do but couldn’t as a factory rider. Most of the beer went down his shirt but nonetheless it was the coolest moment in motocross history as far as I’m concerned – stopping for a beer and still winning the race!

Some years later Stefan Everts copied the idea, but with iced tea. Probably the least coolest moment in motocross history…

Eric Geboers, racing past Namur's famous Chalet du Monument, scene of Carlqvist's beer stop Enlarge image

Hakan at Namur, 1988 Enlarge image

Hakan at Namur, 1988 Enlarge image