February 19 1933: It's snowing in Pau, a town in South-West France in the shadow of the Pyrenees. It's approaching 2pm and the flakes have been falling since last night. Which is a shame, as the very first Grand Prix de Pau is about to start.
The organisers have been toying with the idea of calling the race off - there's no chance of postponing it - but, with a logic that would be welcome amid today's health-and-safety madness, they decide that the drivers are good enough to judge the conditions themselves.
Led by Algerian Guy Moll, the 22-year-old rising star in a Bugatti Type 51, the field slithers away. Conditions are so bad that Philippe Etancelin, winner of the 1930 French Grand Prix on a much-longer road circuit nearby, pits to have snow removed from his plug leads. Eventually the snow stops, the course turns to mud and Marcel Lehoux wins the race from Moll - a one-two for Algerians and for Bugattis (which inevitably comprise most of the field), at the earth-shattering speed of 45mph.
Seventy years later, on June 7 2003: it's blazing sunshine in Pau, even at just after 9:30am. This writer arrived in the town for his first visit only nine hours earlier; it's his first sight of a circuit that, apart from a rerouting around Parc Beaumont for the second running of the race in 1935, has changed very little in the intervening seven decades.
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