Nogaro is in the Armagnac region in the south of France, 100kms from the Atlantic coast and 1 hr from the Pyrenees mountains. In fact the highest peak of the Pyrenees isn't that far away, although Calais is 628miles.
The circuit held its first race meeting on October 3rd, 1960 (a Formula Junior meeting) and the circuit remained very much a regional / local racing circuit for the first decade or so. Originally 1.7km in length, the circuit was lengthened in 1973 to 3.1km. Nogaro gained in stature and recognition, with various Formula
One stars in the making including Rene Arnoux, Gerhard Berger & Ricardo Patrese gracing Nogaro with their skills. In 1974, Alain Prost (a complete unknown at the time) won the Easter trophy for the Formula Renault Europe week-end held at Nogaro.
1975 saw Nogaro hold it’s first World Championship event, being the French round of the Moto GP. Further changes were made to the circuit in 1987 & 1989, taking the total length to 3.6km (2.2miles), and the current layout. The circuit became more technical, and developed the support structure associated with modern circuits at the time with respect to the pits, spectator viewing areas & marshalling.
This is a famous circuit, and one of a small number in the region to hold a full FIA event every year. In 2005, the world record for the longest distance travelled on one litre of fuel was set here, at 3,836km. Puts 18mpg track-day motoring into perspective somewhat.
The current layout incorporates a combination of hairpins, tight, twisty corners, fast flowing corners and a long straight, providing a decent variety of corners from a technical perspective. Some of the corners also present the drivers with gentle camber, while others offer up unsighted or very late apexes. While the track is not the most challenging we’ve seen, it will offer the average track day enthusiast enough of a challenge to keep them busy for a full day.
Pau circuit is only 55 miles from Nogaro, a fantastic little track not dissimilar to Brands Hatch, and featuring plenty of camber & gradient, with 55 metres between it’s highest & lowest points.
The official Lotus dealer with responsibility for the area is Marcassus Lotus, now located in Toulouse, about 2 hrs drive from the circuit. Spare parts may prove considerably more expensive than in the UK (eg rubber!), so check before you agree to buy anything & don’t rely on them, but use them only as back-up.
Words kindly provided by Fred.