Friday, June 11, 2010

Why Should You Care? - 24 Hours of Le Mans/24 Heures du Mans

John Marine | 6/11/2010 03:17:00 AM |
24 Hours of Drama. 24 Hours of Battling the Unknown. 24 Hours of Survival. 24 Hours of Le Mans. 24 Heures du Mans. One of racing's greatest challenges is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The world's most beautiful and fast race cars all compete for one of racing's grandest prizes- victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Teams of three drivers drive one car while making sure to stay out of trouble with everybody else. It's one of the most grueling and most exciting racing competitions. Why should you care, though? You'll find out throughout the course of this blog entry!

Many of you who know my YouTube channel know that I have a "Why Should You Care?" series. Now, "Why Should You Care?" comes to my Blogspot blog! This is where I share my thoughts on why you should care about certain racing events. So please have a look at what I have to offer for you here!

--- Why Should You Care? - The 24 Hours of Le Mans ---

^ from: - Flyer for the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance.

Since 1923, many of the world's greatest marques and drivers have contested the thrill ride known as Le Mans. It used to be that the drivers and cars would race for a certain amount of time, then stop for lunch and stuff. Le Mans these days is all about non-stop action. It is punishment for all involved. The only way you win- outlast everybody else and finish as high as you can. This race is not part of any championship series. In fact, you could say this race is its own one-race championship.

The madness takes place on a track that's just over 8.5 miles in length. About 1/16 of the course is the Bugatti Circuit, and all the rest are public roads. Le Mans is just a quiet country drive every day except for one weekend. You blast down the road full song down the Hunaudières (also called the Mulsanne Straight). While it's straight, it's also very bumpy. Two chicanes have broken up the Hunaudières to reduce speeds starting in 1990. Before these chicanes, it was one LONG straight with really insane speeds. If you want a sample of this, try racing the International-A Final in Gran Turismo 4 to know what Le Mans was like before the chicanes! The majority of the course is a high-speed thrill ride. The second half of the course features some fast kinks and some decisive corners. You start tackling corners like Indianapolis, D' Arnage, the Porsche Curves, and the super-slow Ford Chicane. My biggest problem spot is D' Arnage.

You have to be invited to contend at Le Mans. You have to assemble a team and be ready for that long haul to Le Mans, France in June. It is one of the world's finest races with some of the world's finest manufacturers contending across four classes. You have marques such as (especially today): Audi, Peugeot, Ferrari, Porsche, Chevrolet, and many more. Le Mans is where driver and machine must be in perfect harmony to win. It is where you run a "24-hour sprint." Many call this the Grand Prix of Endurance, and for good reason. This is a race you survive rather than win. It is a 24-hour party for the fans, but 24 hours of work. You have to change drivers, and then those drivers have to give their best effort to win.

Then... you have drama. No, I'm not talking about phantom cautions and blindside attacks in NASCAR. I'm talking about things like vicious crashes, spinning out at Indianapolis or D' Arnage, and the dreaded sign of Game Over- a garage shutting its doors. Fans that can actually stay awake long enough to enjoy the action will be treated to immense excitement enjoying a race as great as this one is. Some fans tune into Radio Le Mans either in Le Mans or streaming online.

Let me explain some memorable Le Mans moments for me. I remember in 2005 when I was pulling for Pescarolo Sport (Le Mans' own!) to win against the Audis. I wanted to cry when I saw Tom Kristensen win at Le Mans because he surpassed Jacky Ickx for most all-time wins. The man is God around Le Mans. Tom Kristensen to Le Mans is almost like the late, great Peter Brock around Bathurst. I wanted the Toyota GT-One to be the only other Japanese car to win Le Mans, but they failed late as BMW pulled through to win. My favorite car that won Le Mans- the Bentley EXP GT (2003). My favorite car that NEVER won Le Mans- the Ferrari 333SP.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is simply one of the greatest races all year. I'm always excited for this race because I am such a fan of sportscar racing and Le Mans. My very first Le Mans I tried to follow was in 2001, when I saw it live on (then) Speedvision. I've tried to catch every Le Mans since my first. Last year's Le Mans was the first one in which I actually stayed up late enough to see the finish of. Give this race a chance. If you care so much to consider yourself a true racing fan, you owe it to yourself to enjoy this great race.

As a Houston native, I cheer on the likes of Risi Competizione and Krohn Racing.  Even more so considering that Tracy Krohn is a Houston native.  I don't have any favorites for the 2010 race except that I wonder if Peugeot can beat Audi again.

Thank you for reading my blog entry! For Le Mans resources, please check these out:

* Radio Le Mans
* Speed Channel live stream (American streaming coverage of Le Mans)
* Spotter Guids (a diagram of cars at Le Mans is available here)

Good luck to all teams and drivers competing at Le Mans!
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