History of Circuit des Remparts d’Angoulême

1937 – Delorme Bugatti 1500 8cl


Under the impulse of the Charente branch of the ACDSVC ( Automobile Club Deux Sèvres Vendée Charente) and more particularly the impulse of its President Dr Pierre Roy there emerged the project of letting racecars enter the heart of the Valois city no later than the next year in 1939
Mr Guillon, the then lord mayor of Angoulême, his local council and the prefectorial authorities, then, ratified The Remparts Automobile Grand Racing Circuit on July 2, 1939. It was immediately and unanimously named: The Angoulême Circuit des Remparts: this is how it is still currently called to-day.
The « turnpike » according to the way pilots name it is 1279m long with two short stretches of straight lines, three right angle turns, a long fast curve and three hair pins.
The circuit has the distinctive feature of having remained unchanged ever since that date ; so then it represents one of the last inner city automobile circuits with Monaco and Pau.

July 2, 1939

19 competitors among the most prestigious pilots of the time at the start of the very first edition of the Angoulême Circuit des Remparts: Maurice Trintignant, Jean-Pierre Wimille, René Bonnet or Raymond Sommer who won the race and scored the fastest lap with 1mn 10s at the wheel of his Alfa Romeo 308 bearing the number 2
The event included two 40-lap preliminary heats (totalising 51.160km each) and a 70 lap final totalising 89.530 kms.
The cars competing at the time represented the topmost in 1939: The Bugatti 59 for Jean-Pierre Wimille and a squad of 35, 37, and 51. Delahayes 135, one Maserati 4Cl and 6CL, the Amilcar MCO, Records, one Salmson GP, one MG K3 and the underslung Amilcar C6 belonging to the local competitor of the stage.

1939 – R. Loyer Maserati 4cl

Considering the historical context of the declaration of the Second World War two months after the Circuit des Remparts first edition, the events were suspended during eight years. So then let’s fall back to June 13-14 and 15,1947 to live the second edition of the Angoulême race.

1947 – Robert Manzon n°30 and De Sauge
on Cisitalia – Tous droits réservés ©

June 13-14 and 15, 1947

The automobile scene had changed… The world had changed!
Beyond the automobile competition, the Angoulême Circuit des Remparts was also the scene of a bicycle race : “ the American way”, a cycling race including half-way sprints and run by two-racer teams
The event was longer than it was in 1939 as it now included two 40-lap preliminary heats (totalising 51.160km each) and a 70 lap final totalising 89.530 kms.
Main evolution since 1939, the cubic capacity of race cars must be limited to 2l in Angoulême.So then exit those engines with 3.6l cubic capacity for the Delahaye 135 or 4.9l for the Bugatti 59 driven by Jean-Pierre Wimille. Here come well-sharpened small-engined cars: Simca, Salmson, Amilcar, Cisitalia, Fraser-Nash. Numbering up to seven such cars on the start-line in 1939 there was none in 1947.The 59 was the brand’s pre-war swan song making it unable to match the “new brands”.
Another distinctive feature of the year 1947, the start line numbered two even three manufacturers at the wheel of their machines: Amedée Gordini “ the wizard” who drove his Simca Gordini, René Bonnet, as for him, exhibited the latest evolution of his DB (for Deutsch-Bonnet), the engine of which stemmed from the famous Citroën Traction Avant. That was the heyday of the “manufacturers without licences”!
The third one : Eugene Martin, a renowned engineer from Paris drove his Frazer-Nash BMW to victory. He had built the carbody himself and managed to stretch the BMW engine to its maximum capacity.
The fight was tough because Raymond Sommer and a “ little newcomer” Robert Manzon, both driving Cisitalia were the ones who scored the fastest laps placed equal with 1mn7s and 9/10

July 11, 1948

Third edition reserved for less than two litres cubic capacities or having on litre with a compressor. The number of the preliminary heats remained the same as in 1947. 19 competitors on the start line. The references of the time were:Simca-Gordini and Cisitalia. Small scale manufactures were even more numerous such as: Jicey, Monnier, Véritas, Simca Roux or René Berté
The specific lay-out of the Charentese Circuit with its sharp bends, hairpins and difference in height over a short distance favours small, light and easy to handle cars to the detriment of more powerful but often heavier cars that need more space to express themselves.
Of course this is still true to-day. It was Igor Troubetskoy, better known as Prince Igor who was to win the event at the wheel of a Simca-Gordini bearing the number 20. Robert Manzon scored the fastest lap for the second year in a row in 1mn 4s 9/10, equally driving a Simca Gordini

1949 – ML Michelet or Bourrely Schell

June 12, 1949

First appearance of a mythical name now: FERRARI with two 166F2 then equipped with a V12 2l engine to conform to the rules limiting cubic capacities. The cars were in the hands of the British Duddley-Folland and the Italian Count Bruno Sterzy. They had started their careers at the Grand Priix of Turin and their victory at the Grand Prix of the ACF (Automobile Club de France) on the Circuit of Gueux in Reims had thrilled automobile sport lovers.
That year also showed the supremacy of foreign brands after the years of Bugatti, Delage, Delahaye, Salmson, Talbot or Amilcar’s. domination. Unfortunately the glory of the French brands was then over.
The strategy and the skill of the great Pétoulet (Maurice Trintignant) was to prevail over the power of Count Sterzy’s Ferrari as he won the event on his Simca-Gordini, scoring the fastest lap in 1mn3s

June 11, 1950

Juan-Manuel Fangio who was, initially, scheduled the previous year was to drive his Maserati 4CLT masterfully up to victory scoring the fastest lap in 1mn 3s 9/10. Another famous pilot from Argentina: José-Froilàn Gonzalez led his Maserat A6GC F2 to the third position on the podium. It was André Simon who slipped his Ferrari 2l to the second position.
The Circuit des Remparts varied hosting a Formula 2 grid, 500cm3 Racers and Side-Cars! The Cooper equipped with a 500cm3 JAP engine driven by someone familiar with the lay-out: Raymond Sommer, sailed through the grid in front of the DB Panhard Monomill which were making their first appearance that year.
On April 21, 1950, Charles FAROUX, a very famous journalist and sports columnist issued wrote a very dithyrambic praise of the Angoulême Circuit des Remparts which was to be on the front page of “l’Equipe”

1951 – Fischer wins on Ferrari 166
Tous droits réservés ©

June 10, 1951

That rainy sixth edition mainly distinguished itself by the return to a great diversity of automobile brands and the faithful presences of pilots whose names are now closely related to the Charentese event namely: Bonnet, Fisher, Manzon, Prince Igor or the unavoidable Trintignant. It is worth noting the first participation of a new brand in Angouême:HWM standing for Hersham and Walton Motors driven by Lance Macklin that was to come second. It was Rudolf Fisher who won the edition on his Ferrari 212.
The surprise was to be Michel Aunaud on a very swift DB Panhard who robbed far more powerful cars of the third position.

1952 to 1954

The evolution of the rules and the Formula 1 new organisation stopped the Angoulême Circuit des Remparts. In fact the years 1952 and 1953 only saw the passsing through of a Private car Rally and no event at all in 1954.

June 5, 1955

Michel Aunaud’s historic result four years earlier had demonstred that a small-engined car could rival with the big F2, that was the reason why two events were to be offered to the public: one, the Remparts Criterium, reserved: for small cars motorized by Panhard, Renault or BMW, and the second event reserved for the Monomill Panhard.
It was Yvon Carlus who won the Criterium des Remparts on his Panhard Dyna Spécial after two 20-lap preliminary heats (25.580kms) and a 40-lap final (51.160km)
The Monomill race consisted of 30-lap preliminary heats (38.370 km) and a 70-lap final (89.530km). Louis Cornet won the first heat while the second went to Pierre Chennevoy. Finally it was Pierre Savary who proved them both wrong by winning the final.

1955 also saw a major evolution in the automobile set., indeed henceforth automobile events would take place on permanent circuits, specially designed for that purpose. New inner-city circuits would no longer be allowed and old ones such as Angoulême would be submitted to strict rules which were, gradually, to cause them all to disappear (Albi, Reims, Rouen…)The drama that was to happen six days later at Le Mans, on June 11,1955 was to put an end to inner-city Circuits.

Sept. 30 – October 1, 1978

Just like the Phoenix,under the impetus of a gang of Angoulême inhabitants nostalgic fans and the Mayor of the time: Jean-Michel Boucheron, the Circuit des Remparts revived from its ashes under the name of: “First Sittings and Competition of Ancient Automobiles”. Because of the drastic rules prevailing at the time organiser races was out oof the question. So then, they imagined an economy run evaluating the longest distance the competitors could go on the Circuit lay-out before running out of petrol. It was Juan-Manuel Fangio, who had become the event sponsor who, at the wheel of the Mercedes W196 with which he became world champion in 1955, beat the fastest lap record bringing it down to 1mn to the delight of the public.

from 1979 to 1982

The Sittings of Ancient Automobiles followed one another bringing additional events every year ( Tourist Rally, photo exhibitions, circuit for replicas to the ½ of Le Mans Cars…


That was the year of the Circuit des Remparts’s true rebirth, as it coincided with its ratification by the FFSA while the public authorities granted permission for races to take place as specified by the 1955 laws and regulations providing for inner-city automobile sports events. But no perenniality for that agreement which was to be closely scrutinized by the Prefct each year.
To celebrate that renewal, Angoulême hosted S Stirling Moss, John Surtrees and Didier Pironi.
Ever since 1983, every month of September, except in 1989 due to the change od the municipal council and budget assessment, Angoulême has become again the Scene of one of the most beautiful inner-city gatherings of sports and private cars.


Formula 1 and a Ferrari Challenge gathering cars which have raced in Le Mans ; in the Tour Auto and in Rally. The presences of big names such as Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Jess Pourret or Albert Uderzo


The largest gathering of AC Cobras in France ! Unfortunately, without Carol Shelby who had to cancel his participation because of serious health problems


The poster was designed by Jean Graton, who came to identify the area two years before the « Remparts Challenge ». Notable presences of Juan-Manual Fangio, Maurice Trintignant and Anne Baverey


7 remarkable grids : The Bugatti, Grand Prix de France, Jaguar, Lotus Super Seven, Tricyclecars, GTS and Sport Proto in the presences of Henri Pescarolo, Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, Jean-Pierre Nicolas and of course, Michelle Mouton who was to sign the lap record at the wheel of a 205 Turbo 16 !


A year off following the decision of the new mayor and his municipal team


A new association took the responsibility to manage the event : the ACOCRA. Concours d’Elégance ; Concours d’Etat, hill climbing ; Rally and Race ! Grand Prix cars, Alfa Romeo, ERA, Ferrari, Maserati, Talbot Lago, have, up to now, been, ceaselessly, celebrating the revival of the event.


The festivities lasted over three days to satisfy the wish of an enthusiast public. Gordini, Lola and Brabham drew attention not forgetting the Edwardians, pure products of the British passion.


It was the continuity of the event’s annual rhythm. An exceptional pre-war MG grid and a sport prototype grid gathering Aston Martin, Ferrari, Frazer Nash and Jaguar !


The first of three posters by the Charentese, François Rivière, who met a tragic death in 2016. A grid that was to confirm the exceptional flavour of Angouleme, The Edwardians ! French Circuits offering that kind of performance can rarely be found.


Protos, single-seaters, pre-war cars…Lola T70, Ferrari 275 LM, Maserati 250F, Veritas Meteor, Delahaye 135 or the Talbot London 90 SS. All the ingredients to guarantee an incredible show !
It was a Bristol 405 Cabriolet that won the Concours d’Etat.

Collection I.C.R. ©


It was when the year Juan-Manuel Fangio died. The Circuit des Remparts paid him tribute through an exhibition of photographs and a commemorative plaque inaugurated by the Argentina ambassador in France in presence of Roy Salvadori and Tony Brooks. That was the beginning of one of the « signature » Bugatti grids.


It was the invasion of the Formula 1 : Arrows, Brabham, Lotus, March, Tyrell, Williams…Cars not totally adapted to the circuit lay out but which will be remembered for ever by the lucky public.


Logical follow-up. Welcome to the 70s’ Formula 2. Appearing on the poster, that edition also highlighted the Austin Healeys.


The 20th anniversary of the revival. The theme is the blue colour : Amilcar, Delahaye, Talbot, Fournier Marcadier, Renault, not forgetting the Formula France and the participation of the Panhard single-seater 1956.


The 60th anniversary of the very first edition. On that occurrence, the poster was an authentic photograph by Claude Saffier de Bard dating back to 1955. That year also saw the the end of motorcycles races due to more severe security standards. A superb « Le Mans Revival » involving Le Mans event’s stars was to celebrate that anniversary


To celebrate the beginning of the new century, nothing less than the Maserati 4 CLT/48 at the wheel of which Juan-Manuel Fangio won the Circuit des Remparts in 1950 ! Another noteworthy event, the Balsa that raced in Angouleme in 1950 and 1951 like que Darl’Mat that took part in the event in 1947.


Deux Monotype and Monobrand grids : Bugatti, Fraser-Nash, MG, Formule France and, for the first time, Group B cars in Angouleme (205 Turbo 16, Stratos, Metro 6R4, 037…). The idle time was enlivened by the Toyota Yaris Grid, driven by celebrities


For the first a grid entirely reserved for pre-war’s Aston Martin ! A carbrand new occurrence in France. Let’s not forget the MEP, Fraser-Nash and the now Must be in Angouleme, namely the Bugattis.


It was the 25 years celebration since the revival. On that important date : a great show : Edwardians, Bugattis, Frazer Nash and Riley. A grand vintage grid with one MG k3, one Lagonda V12 or one Lea Francis. That year proposed a superb grid reserved for Formula Ford.


Noted participation of a Maserati 250F and an Arnolt Bristol. The Bugattis and the Frazer Nash took possession of the track as if it had been designed for them. The MEP (Maurice Emile Pezous’s creations) made the walls vibrate at the sound of their Panhard or Citroën engines.


Let’s save it ! It was the battle cry of a group created to prevent the implementation of a 50km/h speed limit on the circuit which would have meant the end of the adventure. Fortunately, the Prefet repealed the project, thus, allowing the Bugattis, the Frazer Nash, the Riley or the Wolseley to give free way to their power for the public enjoyment


The year of everlastingness
Because the Circuit des Remparts could have disappeared in 2005 due to the speed limit at 50km/h on the Circuit a new Law repealed and replaced the 1955 regulation which could have provoked the disappearance of the Circuit.


A very « British » year indeed with the exceptional participation of Sir OBE Stirling Moss and a grid exclusively reserved for the Jaguar XK. When sportsmanship is matched with luxury and elegance.


The now by-gone great French sports brands led the performance with a MATRA 640 and 650 ( which will criss-cross the charentese road during the International Rally) and a selection of the rare Ligier JS2. Its designer Michel Tétu was among us on that occasion.

2009 – Stars for a birthday party
Collection I.C.R. ©


70 years after the very first laps of the Circuit des Remparts we celebrated the career of a great French automobile sportsman François Guiter under the aegis of the ELF Group. On that occasion we brought Sir Jackie Steward, Alan Prost, Henri Pescarolo, Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Jean-Pierre Jabouille together here in Angoulême to pay a tribute to Mr Guiter. The other climax of the year was a special grid, reserved for the belinettes Alpine A 110 1800 gr IV let alone a very charming exhibition of Automobiles Avions Voisin.


Jewels in the Valois city numbering no less than 8 cars from Hervé Ogliastro’s private collection (Bugatti, Bizzarini, Horch, De Dion Bouton…).We also gave more than its due to the performance with a 70/80’s Alfa Romeo grid and a grid reserved for front-mounted anté- formula 1 Grand Prix cars.


The Matra year with a MS630, a MS10, a MS 120 D, and the Coupé Napoleon which was trying itself in la Charente before tackling Corsica driven by Henri Pescarolo. The Town Hall gardens were not outdone with an exhibition of BALLOT cars from Belgium. The elegance parade was compered by the famous Yves Lecoq and Daniel Herzog pair.


Angoulême wanted to appear as a stage of a rally reserved to ancestors (prior to 1914) which could entertain us as early as the Elegance Parade until on Sunday. Non-licensed auto manufacturers were also celebrated in the Pescarolo grid. It was also the year when the event reverted to the spectacular Group B. Every year the Circuit des Remparts takes place on the Heritage Day Week-end.
It is a deliberate decision of the organisation to make the Angoulême Circuit des Remparts become an immaterial heritage just like the ancient automobile and the post-war great pilots we are blessed with meeting during their lives and who are good enough to join us regularly.

2012 – Plateau Groupe B
Collection I.C.R. ©


It all started with an exceptional Elegance Parade featuring unique models (Maratuech, just to mention only one of them), a rally which took us visiting the de La Rochefoucauld and Verteuil castles, and breathtaking races marking that Sunday. Let’s not overlook the Alpine exhibition and the festivities in relation to the fiftieth anniversary of the Porsche 911


The Sun is clearly an included element of every September third week-end. An intoxicating automobile Concours d’Elegance, a rally which made us rediscover the Sud Charente landscapes and a day of races which saw 160 cars competeing which one another.
The huge public was able to enjoy a sublime Alpine show as well as a parade of the brand in the presence of Bernard Ollivier, the brand current manager and Alain Serpaggi, an authentic artist at the wheel


Delage, Motobloc, Edwardians, Racers, Marc Nicolosi or another Jarnac. Here is a non exhaustive liste regrouping some outstanding names to remind us that magnificient 2015 edition. An ever numerous public gathering to enjoy a show guaranteed all throughout the 3 days of the Concours d’Elegance, along side with the Tourist Rally or the static exhibitions.


The oustanding events were the grid unique in the world bringing Type 13 Bugattis together who had chosen Angoulême as the finish line of a rally by participating in a race which was reserved for them at the Circuit. An increasingly numerous public came to enjoy the eclectic 3-day show from the Edwardians to the Youngtimers including the Coupes de l’Avenir !

Angouleme is one of the last circuits in the city, with an unchanged layout since its creation 80 years ago.