One of the oldest endurance races in motorsport history is running this coming weekend and it’s time you paid attention.
With a storied history dating back to 1923, there are so many ways to get immersed into the culture and spectacle of this awesome race. We’ve compiled a few ways to help prepare you for Le Mans weekend and experience it in the best way possible from your living room.
There are a number of streams to catch the race from different angles but the best bet is to start at Fox Sports.
You can also catch the live look from the Ford racing team.
Or listen to radio Le Mans.
And, of course, the whole scoreboard is constantly being updated at the FIA WEC site.
To get a great understanding of the complexity and effort behind the race, catch Audi’s documentaries about their entries and preparation for the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans. The movie showcased the team’s struggles in earlier races in the 2008 season and set up the dramatic finish to the main event at the Circuit de la Sarthe. The movie spawned a sequel about the 2011 endurance season and Le Mans race, called Truth in 24 II, which is available for free on YouTube.
Porsche also has an hour long documentary detailing their return to the race in 2015.
This year, the big story at Le Mans will be the 2016 Ford GT race cars, and, as expected, Ford has more than a few web-series to get you up to speed on the machines.
You can also check out this cool animation from Donut Media
Ford and Ferrari have a long history of duking it out at Le Mans, making Ford’s return to France such a big deal. The book Go Like Hell documents that rivalry in the 1960s. In a nutshell, Ford showed the motorsport world that they could hang with and beat the best names in racing.
For a more agnostic view of the race, there are a number of books by Quentin Spurring that discuss the history of the race in a properly named series called “The Official History of the World’s Greatest Motor Race“.
The Circuit de la Sarthe is one heck of a track, where racers can hit speeds in excess of 200 mph. The endurance race also runs for a full 24 hours, which means drivers have to be sharp and cars have to be in solid shape. Here’s a few examples of what can go wrong during such a high-speed endurance race.
In 1999 the Mercedes CLK-GTR had an aerodynamic flaw the sent them airborne, leading to one of the most dramatic crashes in motorsports history.
In 2011 Alan McNish lost control of his Audi LMP1 and crashed hard.
In 2012 Toyota had a rough go in Le Mans too, resulting in a crash.
If, after all that, you’re antsy to experience some Le Mans for yourself, fire up your gaming console and get driving. While Forza Motorsport 6 for Xbox One has the full Circuit de la Sarthe to experience, playing the game on Gran Turismo may have a bit more weight. See, racers that are good in Gran Turismo can take their skills into the real world with Nissan’s GT Academy, and yes, GT Academy racers have participated in the real 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
The Big Players:
A full spotters guide is available online, but here’s a quick lesson on the big names in the race.
Audi is an icon in the big leagues of the endurance racing and was dominating the event for several years in a row until Porsche showed up last year and broke Audi’s streak. Audi will surely want to take its winning title back, but won’t be without solid competition. Toyota wants to be on the podium as well, and Porsche will be doing all it can to hold them back.
With the most wins in Le Mans history, Porsche is the team to beat and the current champs. They’ve got the bullseye on their backs with Audi and Toyota gunning for the number one spot.
Toyota is still campaigning in the world endurance championship, but is the underdog story compared to Audi and Porsche. Their cars experienced troubles in the past few endurance races leading up to Le Mans, but Toyota’s racing team explained that it’s because those cars are all sent out racing with the same aero and suspension setups. They’re hopeful the setup holds in France.
The Ford GT is returning to Le Mans for the first time since the automaker placed 1-2-3 in 1966. Run by Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, the race team is in second place in the WEC driver and team standings going into Le Mans following their second-place at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium. It will be interesting how Ford fares against tough competition from Ferrari, Corvette, Porsche and Aston Martin.
The bowtie-backed racing team won their division last year, but is facing more intense competition from Ford this year. Make no mistake, while there’s lots of news coming out of Ford, the Corvette Racing team and the C7.R is the team to beat, with six of their drivers tallying 52 combined starts at Le Mans and racking up 15 victories among them. One more win would be a significant milestone: number 100 for Corvette Racing.
The Ferrari 488GTE is a top contender in its class, going up against the Ford GT and Corvettes. Fortunately, it’s experienced some great runs through the season, winning in Silverstone and looking great in Spa before an engine failure sidelined one of the cars.
Consider grabbing some sleeping aids to help you get a good night’s sleep before or after the 24 hours of racing.