Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Genesis of the Circuit Carole

After the changes brought on by the demonstrations of May 1968, a more 'socialized' France, begins to realize changes little by little. A crack windens between a population of which the eldest, advocating the respect of certain traditional values, are frightened by the liberal aspirations sought by a student youth too "boisterious" for their taste, trampling under foot these values. Motorcycles are one of the responses to a need for more freedom by this youth, not at all reassuring to the "proper-thinking" collective conscious, since their popularity is comparatively recent and demonstrates a growing fad.
The bike offers everything to be associated with the "enemy", being both a lot noisier than traditional vehicles and especially a lot quicker. An odd reaction in a country that built some of the first motorcycles and at one time or another supported approximately 250 manufacturers, albeit the majority producing infinitesimal quantities of small cc machines. In any case, the general appearance of motorcyclists, jacket and boots of black leather, dark pants, Cromwell and Climax helmets strapped on the head, did nothing to reassure the motorists that quickly rejected these new users. Refusing traditional conventions, and trying to develop a new solidarity among motorcycle riders, isolated and demonized by automobile drivers, a number of associations quickly developed.

The new aficionados of speed distanced themselves by gathering around la Bastille and especially at Rungis, where they came to seek comfort amongst themselves on Fridays evenings in the parking lots of the covered markets, on improvised circuits of which the principal characteristic was the total lack of security. In taking advantage of the victims of these wild runs, the racers sought to make an example of the situation in demanding adapted structures and denouncing the lack of proper facilities for this activity.

At the same point, authorities began becoming aware of the problem of road security, as well as the public opinion on the subject. In fact, the number of deaths on the roads had almost doubled in 12 years, passing of 9,000 in 1960 to 12,000 in 1972. A "Delegation on Road Security" was created, with the first and principal objective in stopping the trend of rising mortality on French roads. Motorcyclists are among the primary concerns by the first director as the number of deaths was constanting increase.

In 1978, the Director of Road Security, Christian Gérondeau (future President of the Automobile Club of the West (A.C.O.), think 24h of Le Mans) stigmatizes the motorcycle population after a series of mortal accidents mortal outside the Castellet circuit, by stating in an interview that motorbikes have been responsible for over 1000 deaths and 10 000 injuries on public roads. Ascribing the cause to power and speed, he gives birth to the idea of stepped licenses, provoking anger amongst the biker world. In the interest of keeping an open dialog and in order to appease the bikers, a Mr. Motorcyclist is named to bring forth the various concerns of the different parties and to act as mediator. Yves Mourousi, a news anchor for TF1 and emblematic face of the motorcycle world is named to this post, directly connected to the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

About this same period, under the pressure from public opinion influenced a considerable number of deaths during the Friday evening gatherings (25 between 1977 & 1978), the politicians begin considering the idea of a closed track open to motorcyclists enticing. After the coordinated efforts of different parties, the Minister of the Youth and Sports of the era, Mr Jean-Pierre Soissons, officially announces at the 1978 Bol d'Or race, the construction of a circuit in the area near Paris. The choice of a site will pose various problems, among them, the local municipalities who do not enthusiastically welcome the project in their region. After some twist and turns, the site of Tremblay-lès-gonesse (future Tremblay-en-France) is finally chosen and the works begins.

The track is inaugurated the 1st of December 1979, under the name of Circuit Carole. It is named for a young women, Carole Le Fol (age 18), who tragically died during one of the last runs (the final one so says the tradition) at Rungis. The name was given in order to perpetuate the memory of this last victim and recall to all the social vocation of the circuit and the goal of its creation.

Source: FFMC 91