Note: Part One of David’s Le Mans saga can be read…HERE
My attempt to watch all 24-Hour of Le Mans continued and I found myself isolated on my living room couch with only my cat, Henry, to keep me company. My family didn’t abandon me, but they had better ways to spend their Saturday. Undaunted, I knew in my heart that I would be climbing this mountain alone, but I also knew that the summit could not be reached without their support of my spirit.
I settled in and started watching the race, largely focusing on the Alpine in the hypercar class and my man, Juan Pablo Montoya, driving for DragonSpeed in the LMP2 class. JPM is in the twilight of his career but it’s pretty dope to see him drive when the mood suits him.
My admiration for JPM is largely based on his ability to race in different disciplines and excel at them. His diverse racing career saw successful stints in F1, NASCAR, WEC and IndyCar. I could go on ad nauseum about his accomplishments but to put it in simple context he is aLe Mans victory short of joining Graham Hill as the only drivers to win the Racing Triple Crown. The Triple Crown is unofficial but includes victories at the Indy 500, Monaco GP and 24-Hours of Le Mans.
It’s a tough feat and Fernando Alonso is quite vocal in his pursuit of it. I realize that one needs the overall race win at Le Mans, not just class win, to capture a true Triple Crown but I would give him the accolades if he could pull it off. Since there are no strict guidelines for an unofficial accolade one can view it how they wish.
Five-hours into the race and I cracked open my first Mountain Dew and JPM was in 14th place overall. The soda was for pep and to offset the espresso, sometimes you just need some sugar in your diet. Between the Mountain Dew and Sour Patch Kids I had more than my usual daily allotment. I sorta watch what I eat, not a lot of candy or soda on a daily basis, but today is an exception.
With the laps and hours rambling on my thoughts drifted from the actual race to the aesthetics of the cars. I’ve always associated the Gulf Racing livery with Le Mans and this year it was absent from the race. My love of the simple blue and orange paint run deep to the point where I own a pair of Gulf jackets, one a gas station attendants jacket and the other a motorcycle jacket with the familiar Gulf Racing patches.
I’ve spent my life on the western half of the U.S. and as such there aren’t Gulf gas stations. During a business trip to Albany, New York in 2016 I found a Gulf station and gladly bummed around inside as some sort of bizarre pilgrimage. Some folks have Sistine Chapel and I have a gas station in upstate New York.
I started to feel bad for neglecting my family during the race and I started watching it on my phone so I could stop hogging the TV in the living room. As Bane said in “The Dark Knight Rises”, ‘It’s time to go mobile.’
My love for The Dark Knight trilogy extends to the point where I named our Siberian Husky, ‘Bane’. She isn’t a domestic terrorist with a mask, but is more of a lovable goof.
With me watching the race on the Motor Trend app we were a family again. Despite me being glued to my phone and largely ignoring my wife and son as they watched “Beetlejuice”. They are an understanding pair and I have no idea where my life would be without their patience.
My goal of attempting to watch all 24-hours of Le Mans was becoming family news as I received an email from my cousin in Australia. A devoted Corvette fan, he too was watching the race and we chatted about the happenings, my disdain for Ferrari and adding fuel injection to a vintage Corvette.
Our banter made me realize the greatness of the motorsports community and how it can bring us all together. My correspondence with family on the other side of the globe gave us a shared experience and on Twitter our former writer, Joshua Kerr, gave me support from England to keep burning the midnight oil.
We are all from different cultures and have our individual nuances but an event like Le Mans can give us a moment to come together despite any chasms between us. Love is more powerful than hate and this extends to our love of cars, racing and all the rest.
This feeling of camaraderie among strangers was also prevalent when I saw Cypress Hill last week. The concert had a wide swath of numerous cultures and we all had a great time unified by some classic tunes.
I was also kind of stoned during the concert and that may have affected my perceptions of unity. But regardless of how inebriated I was that night there was a sense of community when B Real and Sen Dog dropped the Phunky Feel One.
The race kept going but my body was beginning to slump around midnight after 17 straight hours of Le Mans. My spirit was strong but at 43-years old a long day fueled by candy, espresso and Mountain Dew was beginning to take its toll. In the same way that I can’t party like I did a decade or two ago, I can’t live on a ton of sugar and feel awesome.
At 1:06 a.m. (PST) I ran out of gas. I was nearly incoherent as I watched the race and I knew that I needed rest, as opposed to more caffeine. With five-hours and 54-minutes left in the race I threw in the towel and called it a night. To some I failed, but to me I did not absolutely tank.
My perspective is that I achieved more than I thought I could, i.e. watching almost 18-hours straight of motorsports, and it will prepare me for next years 24-Hours of Le Man.
It was not a waste of a day but I began to realize that in the amount of time I spent watching Le Mans my alternative could have been to watch Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker, and Rogue One. That could have been an awesome day, but I had more fun watching Le Mans, even though I was six-hours short.