21 January 2010

Paris in 6

I have arrived in Paris for 6 days for Retromobile! My flight was uneventful, as they should be, and my first day on Wednesday was dedicated to s-l-e-e-p. The 6 hour difference is not so bad, but I think rolled in with the frustration and excitement of getting here just wears me out. It was rainy and cold when I came in, and coupled with no sleep overnight on the flight, I was toast! Dozed in the lobby of my hotel while I waited on the room to be ready, made it through a nice warm bath and crashed until late afternoon. Finally got motivated to dress and get out before the sun went down. It doesn't get daylight good until 9:00 am this time of year, and it's dark by 6:00 pm. The city is well lit and safe after dark, and photo ops abound, so off I went! I saw the Eiffel Tower last night! Now, you can see it in books, you can see it on television, but to come face to face with this incredible bohemoth is a sight. I had no idea just how large it is! It was truly awesome! I have never felt as dwarfed by a manmade structure. Beautifully lit, it is a monument to engineering. Please resist the temptation to buy a glowing pink or blue replica to take home. The guys selling these are, fortunately, not voracious, just numerous.
There's something about Paris. It has a style and a culture we have no way of emulating. Parisians, as well as most Europeans I have found, revel in the antiquity of their countries. America is too caught up in the new, the shiny, the big. The streets I walk today here are built on Roman carriage ways (probably dinosaur trails previous to that). More than 40 years ago, some old houses were being torn down in front of Notre Dame to give the public a better view and to build a parking deck (sound familiar?), well, in the excavation, they uncovered these ancient streets! The parking deck was not build, and the streets have been excavated out so that you can see them in the Crypt at Notre Dame. Similar sites have been uncovered at the Louvre as well. These are fascinating.
Hellé walked these streets, she drove through these streets, danced here as well. I wonder which cafes gained her favor? Did she stroll along the Seine arm in arm? Did she walk the same places I did today, looking in shop windows at Guerlain and Chanel and Dior? She had the money to shop there, I do not. What was the name of her yacht? Where did she moor it? Did she captain it or hire someone? Where did they sail? Did she and Marcel and Courc race through these streets in the early hours of the morning, up the Champs-Elysees, around the Arc de Triumph?
I hope she will be pleased, I am taking her roses on Monday -
jusqu' à demain,


12 January 2010

Off to Retromobile

Well, next week is the big trip to Paris for Retromobile. It's a vintage and classic car show and auction, celebrating it's 35th year. This year's theme is the history of the automobile, which promises some incredible antique vehicles. Featured marques are Mercedes, highlighting the "Gullwing", Mazda's 90th birthday, 200 years of Peugot, 100 years of Alfa, and the always present Citroen. I have meetings set up with rally people, Bugatti folks, and anyone else who will listen! I am also travelling by train to Ste-Mesme, Hellés hometown, to meet with some good people there, and to see firsthand where Hellé is buried.
I've been working on lots of things leading up to the trip. I have had the business cards reprinted in a better shade of blue, much closer this time to "Bugatti" blue. I've also had "Hellé Nice Project" postcards printed, detailing why I'm raising funds., as well as designing additional promotional pieces to give away or sell on the website later in the year.
Theresa Earnheart is interviewing me tomorrow on TrackChic Live for a program to be broadcast later in the week on racefanradio.com , and I'm going to be able to do a segment from Retromobile as well, thanks to the miracles of modern technology.
I want to thank my friend, Pat Yongue, for the gift of two of the most wonderful books to start my Women's History of Motorsports collection - "Fast Ladies, Female Racing Drivers, 1888-1970" by Jean Francois Bouzanquet, full of incredible photos and lots of inspiring information, and Rally Cup Winner, Genevieve "Genny" Obert's ,"Prince Borghese's Trail", the documenting her trip on the great Paris to Peking Rally in 1997 . I am saving this tome for the plane trip next week.
One of my goals in keeping this blog is to educate the reader about the history of women in motorsports, as well as the characters and the roles they played in shaping the future for those who came later. I will highlight the women drivers, with mini biographies, and give history as I see it both from a womans perspective and as I see how women have and are affecting the sport today. Bear with me -