24 Hours of Le Mans live update part three
20 June 2016
We tasked surfing journalist Rory Parker to watch this year's live stream of the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans. What follows is an experiment to experience the world's greatest endurance race from the perspective of a motorsports novice. Parker lives in Hawaii and has an associates degree in dropping f-bombs. For Part One, click here. Part Two is here.
Really hoped I'd be able to grab an hour or two of sleep before the sun rose over Le Mans. Dark dark dark, couldn't figure out what was going on. Commentators struggled at times as well. But I couldn't do it. Endurance racing is just too exciting. Grabs my attention with both fists. Screams, "watch these men DRIVE!"
A neighbor invited me over for drinks. Told him, "Can't do it, gotta watch Le Mans!" Maybe not exactly. I'll admit, at times my attention wandered. I did a load of laundry. Ate some snacks. Half listened to the commentary. Threw a hump at my wife.
I learned that Patrick Long, driving #88, is big brother to Kevin "Spanky" Long. Spanky's a bit of a legend in the skate world. Always weird how top notch talent can run in families like that. Kind of surprised I've never heard that before. Worked for a skate mag for a years, met Spanky a handful of times. Someone must've told me that he has an older brother who drives race cars.
Dash cams at night are scary. High powered headlights in the P1s reach almost 300 meters. Cars outrun that distance easy. Seems like they're just steering into the black and hoping for the best. But that can't be the case. People'd be dropping dead let and right.
Very amused by how the guys in GT are like, "Dude, stop flashing your fucking lights before you pass." But the LMP's are all, "Suck a dick! I do what I want."
Top three stayed neck and neck nearly all night long. As the sun gets ready to creep back over the horizon the top three are separated by only eleven and a half seconds. Toyota 5 and 6, Porsche 2. Audi 8 is two laps behind Porsche, beleaguered 7 is dealing with constant trouble eleven laps from the front.
GTE Pro sees Ferrari 82 in first, Ford 68 and 69 right behind. Fours cars retired so far. I'm beginning to appreciate the endurance aspect a little more fully. Only really considered the drivers at first. The mental and physical stress driving these cars at these speeds at length would inflict. But keeping the damn things running is the real deal. To win you've gotta drive perfect, build perfect.
8 hours and forty five minutes left. Can't believe I've been watching this shit for fifteen hours. I wonder, at the end of this little experiment, will I be a newfound fan? Or am I gonna hate this shit to death? Say, "You'd need to pay me to watch." No real difference from what's up now.
GTE Pro field is slimming. Porsche 91 and 92 are out. Ferrari 71 and 51 are as well. Still a single Ferrari and two Fords competing for the class win.
The commentary teams on the official stream are excellent. All day, all night, long. Knowledgeable, articulate, interesting. I shouldn't be surprised. So much time, effort, money goes into the race that the guys on the mics aren't gonna fuck around. They take their jobs seriously. Do research. Use it to provide context, bits of interesting info during slow moments.
Huge difference from surfing. The guys who cover the World Tour just jabber. Add almost nothing. 'Cuz surfers are generally stupid. We swear up and down we're not, but those are just happy lies. Grown men who dedicate themselves to playing in the ocean. In the long term you end up with an empty head and the emotional depth of a spilled beer. Hell, one of the WSL talking head regulars is a reformed meth addict.
Surfing is such small peanuts. I'd be surprised if the entire budget of the World Surf League was equal to that of a single team. Just used the internet to check. As of 2014 Audi was spending $242 million on its prototype program. No way the World Surf League has half that. Though, like some of the teams, the WSL is largely the hobby project of a billionaire. Dirk Ziff's been dumping money in it the last few years, supposedly because his wife is a fan. Throwing good money after bad.
Back on the matter of commentators. You know the French guy who keeps doing interviews? Asking super inane questions, doesn't have a great grasp of the language? Imagine if everyone with a microphone acted exactly like that. Except they were raised in the US and can't beg forgiveness for struggling with a second language.
Oh god, and because pro surfing thinks it can attract non-surfing viewers and somehow suck money out of their pockets they insist on using terms meant for that audience. So even though there's a rich lexicon, a million ways to describe maneuvers, conditions, they just make up stuff that's simpler.
It'd be like saying, "He's pulling into the car house to get more fast juice."
Porsche is using the number one car as a test pig. I just told my wife she's my test pig. She didn't reply, but her expression says she loves her new nickname. Corvette 64 loses it off a bump entering the Dunlop curve and goes head-on into the tires. Tommy Milner is out of the car, done racing for today. Doesn't seem too bothered, checking photos of the crash trackside.
A little later Nelson Panciatici fucks up royally heading into the first chicane, rams his LMP2 into the wall. He's shouting at the marshalls, gesticulating in a very Italian fashion. Put me down! No, not there! Car's fucked up bad but Panciatici thinks he can pull the nose off and get it back to the pit.
Bykolles car is on fire. Simon Trumer gets it to the shoulder and put out. He's walking away from it. Show's over. Now Pierre Thiriet goes spinning into the gravel, losing the front of his car. Ed Brown does the same with his hair salon styled ride. Seven and a half hours left and teams are dropping left and right. Safety car is on the track.
You know, I'm very aware of how dangerous racing is, have no desire to see someone hurt. But I can't help but hope for spectacular crashes. The kind you magically walk away from without a scratch. I think the reason I drive like an old lady is the fact that I was in a few bad accidents when I was a teenager. Never when I was behind the wheel.
One was particularly bad. A friend owned a Volvo 1800, liked to drive it like it like he stole it. Was doing 45 in the right hand lane when someone turned left and we collided more or less head-on. I wasn't wearing my seat belt because I was an invincible kid, put my head straight into the windshield. Huge noggin bash shatter.
Totally okay. Small abrasion on my forehead where it hit the glass. Not even sore later on. My buddy was buckled in, broke his arm and and earned a nice concussion. Good thing it was the 90's and concussion weren't that dangerous yet. Always felt like that was my one gimme. Should've been really hurt, but skated sans consequence.
Six hours and twenty minutes left, I'm realizing a lot can happen in that time.
Safety car pulls away and we're racing! All out sprint, the two Toyotas and last competitive Porsche with less than three seconds separating them. Corvette 64 and Thiriet 46 are out. Second place GTE Pro Ford 68 gets a drive through penalty for leaving the engine running while refueling. Ferrari's gotta be stoked.
The road up to my house is a popular place for people to drive fast. Lots of twists and turns, up and down hills. I understand the appeal. But everyone drives lifted trucks out here, they don't corner so well. One particular curve drops off quick, bends hard right. It has killed three vehicles in the last month. One flipped at the bottom, two off the edge at the top. Into a ditch that sits twenty feet down.
No injuries in any of them. Which is good. But now KPD is sitting up top looking for speeders. Which is more than a little annoying. Not because I go faster than the 15mph limit, but because I'm almost totally incapable of keeping my car legal. Almost always got expired tags. Been pretty lucky talking my way out of fines in the past, but now I know the traffic court judge. Nice lady, I like her a lot. But I know she'll hand me my ass if I ever end up in front of her. Hard to sell someone a line when they know you're full of shit.
Five hours left. My god. This just goes on forever. Endurance racing might not be for me. Twenty seven second gap between first and third. Toyota leads.
Must've fallen asleep. Two hours left. Not much changed while I was in dreamland. LMP1 is still between Toyota and Porsche. Toyota 5 is in first, thirty two seconds in front of Porsche 2. GTE Pro is lead by Ford USA 68. Ferrari is right behind, followed by two more Fords.
A couple LMP2 cars have retired while my body got some desperately needed shut eye. Too much effort to figure out which. My brain is not working very well at the moment. Taittinger gets a flat, tries to limp back to the pit. But something more goes wrong and her car catches fire. Only an hour sixteen left, looks like that's it for Pegasus racing. Damn, Inès Taittinger is a very attractive woman.
LMP2 Murphy Prototypes 48 spins into the gravel at Dunlop with only an hour left in the race. Oh no!
With fifteen minutes left, the longest fifteen minutes of my life, Toyota holds a thirty second lead over the #2 Porsche. This'll be the second time a Japanese team has won, I believe. Pretty sure I picked up that bit of information at some point. But my brain is barely functioning, I wouldn't swear to it. Fuck, if I were behind the wheel of a car I'd be dead.
Less than ten minutes left.
First place #5 Toyota has lost power! Porsche is closing fast.
Toyota comes to a dead stop with 3:21 left! Heartbreaking.
Ferrari #82 has been given a stop and go penalty for faulty leader lights.
Ten seconds left.
Checkered flag. Porsche winds the 24 hours of Le Mans on the final lap!
That was really cool to see. Porsche crew is losing their shit.
- Porsche #2
- Toyota #6
- Audi # 8
- Ford #68
- Ferrari #82
- Ford #69
That's it for the 2016 24 hours of Le Mans. Crazy race. Real demonstration of human endurance, engineering, ingenuity. Awesome nail biter finish.
Was it worth watching for nearly 24 hours straight? Probably not. It wasn't easy. I feel like utter shit, though the 3am to 3am schedule may have contributed to that. I wish I could find a clever comment to end on. Come up with a life lesson that wraps everything up. But I can't. Too tired. Too dumb.
Gonna get some rest, wake up around noon, then try and decide if I'm a newfound WEC fan. Or if this is like that time I got super high and ate an entire cheesecake. Far too much of a good thing. Left me sick to my stomach. Years and years later I still can't eat the stuff.