The Tour Auto Optic 2000 is one of the most prestigious historic racing events in the world. As early as 1899, l’Automobile Club de France organised its first edition, as a mix of road stages and circuit clocked runs, with regularity sections between the stages. Gaining a certain degree of popularity with time, the ‘old’ edition of the Tour reached its high point in the early ‘70s when a number of the then Formula 1 drivers took the start of the race in parallel with their regular GP and Endurance duties.
Patrick Peter, the organiser of some important classic and concurs elegance events (Spa Classic, Le Mans Classic etc) laid the foundation of the current version of the Tour Auto in 1992. Its main principles are still in operation today: the starting point is always Paris (with the end in various locations in France); it is a five-day event; there is one circuit driving event each day; some special stages during the day and a regularity course for every car entered.
It is worth noting that the Tour Auto is the only remaining event in the world today where racing cars (and some of them are very powerful) are eligible to be driven on roads and race tracks in race conditions. It is impossible to organise prestigious international events such as the Targa Florio, Mille Miglia or Carrera Panamericana today to run in the same original format as they did back in the day.
The organisers give priority to entries from competition cars that entered the Tour Auto between 1951 and 1973. The race entries are divided into four categories: Overall classification, Competition G (1966 to 1971), Competition H/I (1972 to 1981) and Index of Performance.
This year, 239 well-prepared cars were presented at the Grand Palais in Paris on Monday April 23. The first day of competition was the Paris – Besancon leg (with circuit driving at Dijon Prenois race track) and one special stage for the competition class entries. The second stage was on Wednesday April 25 between Besancon and Megeve (driving at Circuit de Bresse) plus two timed special stages. On Thursday April 26, the competitors drove from Megeve to Avignon (circuit driving at Ledenon race track) plus two other special stages. The fourth stage was from Avignon to Aix en Provence (with Paul Ricard hosting the track day) and a further two other special stages were included. The Tour Auto Optic 2000 2018 arrived at Nice Place Massena after three special stages and a regularity course from Aix en Provence to Nice.
With such a rich motor sport heritage, Porsche was well represented at this 2018 edition with a total of 37 cars entered (14 in the regularity class and 23 in the competition class) with a wide diversity of models:
|Porsche model||Number entered|
|Porsche 904 (Prototype)||1|
Most historic race cars are today arguably in better condition than when they raced in anger back in the day, and this is thanks to the quality of restoration materials and processes. Added to this is the fact that the values of these period race cars has risen to such an extent that it makes sense to keep them in tip top shape. But, there is no doubt about it, seeing these thoroughbred machines either on the road or on track, is as much of a special privilege today as it was back in period.
Written by: Lucian Sonea
Images by: Lucian Sonea