Bucket List Entry #3: Spa Francorchamps

I’ve never been a racing driver, nor wanted to be one. However, I do like driving sports cars hard, ever since a buddy let me cane his Alfa Romeo Montreal over a newly-opened freeway outside Johannesburg. I haven’t had much opportunity, however, so on my bucket list here’s a simple entry: drive a sports car around a race track — and the track of choice would be Spa Francorchamps, in the Ardennes Mountains in Belgium.

…and I have to tell you, a large part of my desire for Spa is that the countryside surrounding it is just gorgeous. Ditto the Circuit Paul Ricard, because it’s in Provence, fer goshsakes (but Spa still wins it every time, for me).

The car? I don’t really care, as long as it doesn’t break down in mid-circuit. Modern sports cars are too clinical, too perfect with all the mechanical and electronic doodads they bring to the party — not that I’d say “no” to a flip around Spa in a Ferrari California, though:

But I’m an old fashioned kinda guy, and I’d prefer to drive something a little more… elemental, something which captures the spirit of a bygone era. Something like a Caterham Seven 360, which is based on the old Lotus Seven of the 1960s:

Six-speed manual gearbox, 2.0-liter Duratec engine (yeah, from a Ford Mondeo) which puts out 180hp — on a chassis that weighs less than I do — all in a car that seats my ass but six inches off the ground and can out-drag a Kawasaki.

Sounds like fun, dunnit? Which is why it’s on the old Bucket List.



  1. Does sound like fun. If nothing else it should get the heart beating. especially if you were in the side seat with a really talented driver. Small, light and stiffly sprung brings back some delightful memories.

  2. My first car was ’64 Comet four-door that had been surplused out by the state of California, still in the (then) state battleship grey fleet color. Perfect for a country boy to get around without getting him self killed. My next car was a ’69 BMW 2002 purchased from an estate. My, what an education that was. Eventually I added a Weber carb, headers, 320i rims and tires, and decent springs and shocks. It was a fun ride.

    I was on station in (the former) West Germany from ’74 to ’77. I routinely drove a deuce and a half shop van in German traffic. When I got back home to my 2002 in American (Oakland, CA hills and points east) traffic, it was about six months before anyone would ride with me.

    Rock on Kim, rock on.

  3. I’m not hard-over on which car….as long as it’s a convertible. Hell, I’d like to try my BMW 3-Series on it.

  4. Hey, life begins at 180–particularly when arguing with others in the corners. Most fun you can have with your clothes on. 🙂 I was infected by the racing bug as a spectator at LeMans, in 1957.

    All the Lotus 7s are neat. Remove the front fenders and add 10 or 15 mph to the top end. My Lotus Elan of that era was also a fun toy.

    Granted that today’s high-performance cars are impressive, but “back then” we did our own versions of improvements to the factory offerings. Would you rather read somebody else’s book, or write your own? My opinion–FWIW–is that a car is more fun if you put some of your own soul into it.

    Regardless, making each lap a bit faster on a challenging race track is certainly worth doing. Hope you get to Spa.

  5. A windy road, a 7, and no speed limits- a recipe for a good time.
    I’ve always loved the 7 since I first spotted it in R&T back in the 90’s. I’ve only seen maybe three in the wild, and can’t believe how tiny they are. I can’t recall if Jezza ever fit himself in one, but May seemed to prefer the more classic, slow version. Of course.

  6. The NĂŒrburgring would be my track, and I’d want a lap in a Ring Taxi with Sabine Schmitz at the wheel (I think you’d like her, Kim), and another lap with me driving an old BMW 507 or the TurboPanzer- Porsche 917.

  7. Around Spa, in a Ferrari……it doesn’t get much better than that.
    Plus, in the California, you can always put the top down.

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