A small town an hour outside of Paris which hosts the biggest motorsport event in the world, the history and heritage of this race is just incredible. At over 8 miles long and using public roads through scenic forests at over 200mph…welcome to the Circuit De La Sarthe…welcome to The Le Mans 24 hour.
This has to be the easiest blog I have ever written, but also the most difficult, the number of stories I have would make this entry about 5 pages long! Nothing can prepare you for the scale of this race, it is huge, its a logistical nightmare to get around, you get to wherever you can; however you can, walking, media shuttles, local buses, mopeds, taxi's even your bicycle!
I've always wanted to shoot Le Mans, but never had the right contacts to make it happen, but Formula E helped me out. I was officially shooting for Lucas Di Grassi, Nico Prost, Karun Chandhok as well as Current E, which meant a lot of running up and down the pit lane.
Now I could just go on and on about this race, instead, I'll just tell you my top 3 moments.
3. The drivers parade. For anyone who has never been to Le Mans, the drivers parade takes place through the town, where the drivers sit in a convertible & wave to the crowd while throwing autographed pictures, t-shirts even USB sticks! The atmosphere is wonderful & I love the fact that fans can get so close to their heroes, you should've seen the tears flowing from teenage girls faces as Patrick Dempsey passed!
2. The pitlane at night. The smell of fuel and burning rubber are 2 things I sorely miss in Formula E, but there sure is an abundance in the pitlane at this race. The pitboxes are lit up with floodlights which add some amazing effects to the cars, similiar to F1 night races. You can go right up and close and get some intense shots of the cars being worked on and the drivers swapping. However, It is one scary place to be, these cars stop for no one and you have to really keep your wits about you, if you get in the way, the mechanic will fling you out of the way, say goodbye to your camera & future accreditations.
1. Mulsanne to Indianapolis. There are certain moments and places in your lifetime you will never forget. The stretch of road between Mulsanne & Indianapolis in my opinion, is the greatest piece of race circuit on the planet. It is so dangerous, the entire outside of Indianapolis is a red zone for photographers, which means we're not allowed to stand and shoot there, only walk through. As the cars exit Mulsanne corner, they gather speed down a long straight which narrows and undulates. The LMP1's hit over 200mph and some go flat out through the Indianapolis kink to the right and brake hard for the next left on their way to Arnage corner. There's a nasty bump on the road just before the braking zone which kicked up sparks from under the Nismo and unsettled a lot of cars…scary! I cannot explain the sound, the engine noise reverberates off the trees and creates alien noises that echo everywhere, gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
So will I be going next year? Only a fool wouldn't, I'm hinging on a contract with one of the big teams or my Formula E brothers (drivers)..it truly is a magnificent event & even as a spectator, I would recommend it 100%, go with a group of friends, you will not regret it, the atmosphere is truly unique.