It was the news we'd all been dreading. My heart sank when it was announced on Monday that the Le Mans 24 Hours in September will take place behind closed doors, without a crowd, minus spectators, in front of empty grandstands. Describe it how you like, the harsh reality is that the event will be robbed of the atmosphere that, well, makes it Le Mans.
The French endurance classic has an all-encompassing ambiance like no other race, certainly not one I've attended. A crowd that can top 300,000 spread around a track measuring eight and half miles is the reason for that. A visit to Le Mans is an assault on the senses. It's not just about what you see, but what you hear, smell and feel. It is a visceral experience.
I can't get a whiff of sizzling bacon when I'm out in the open without thinking about Le Mans early on Sunday morning. It's a mental trigger that transports my mind straight to the Circuit de la Sarthe and the world's greatest endurance race. The smell of bacon and the sound of whirring airguns are somehow hardwired together deep inside my brain.