You may be able to race Le Mans in 24 hours, but we found that you need at least 117 hours to really experience the world’s greatest endurance race.
No 5 hour energy drink for us! Pure adrenaline, superb company, exquisite Aston Martins and the incredible array of spectacles – from patriotic rituals (Brits as Frenchmen, Scots as, well Scots, Dutch in Orange) to stunning machines were all we needed to propel ourselves and remain standing (well except for that minor misstep on the Dunlop Bridge at 1am on our way to logging a stunning 39 hours of endurance spectating).
We motored through Mulsanne mobs and a Superman checkpoint; we indulged in Grand Marnier crepes and sipped champagne at midnight; we traveled from NYC by plane, from Paris by train, from the Gare du Mans by tram, from the tram stop to the circuit by foot, rolling our luggage about the grandstands and paddocks because there is not one second to waste on something so unnecessary as checking into your room first; we had a rainbow reception as we were leaving for the Aston Martin Welcome Party – some of us found Vanquishes at the end of the rainbow; we paraded the Aston Martin Rapide S in the Centenary parade, literally on empty, which of course had no impact on spirited driving; we learned that Tom Kristensen fans are light sleepers – walk by the Danes’ tent city in the wee hours and mention his name and the entire community cheers; we learned that there is such a thing as camping in high style and that you should not mistake the flag of the Netherlands for the French Flag (horizontal Red, White, Blue vs vertical Blue, White, Red). And with heavy hearts we were also reminded just how fragile life is and how quickly tragedy strikes. Live everyday as if it were going to be your last . . .
We learned that Le Mans is much more than the 24 hours of actual track racing. It is Endurance Traveling, Endurance Touring, Endurance Spectating and, blessedly, after another round of Endurance Traveling . . . Endurance Resting. Below are some pictures and videos from our 144 hour trip. We hope you enjoy the sights and sounds we captured of Le Mans. The in car video of our Aston Martin Centenary Parade lap was a two camera shoot – yours truly had a Canon Power Shot in her left hand and a GoPro in her right.
GHG thanks the wonderful gents who made it all possible for us: Rob Nimkoff of TRG-Aston Martin Racing, Neal Garrard and Edward Hilton of Nicholas Mee & Company and Club Tertre Rouge, Kevin Basden of Bespoke Visual Solutions and Stephen Saunders. Thank you for the time of my life.
Le Mans in under 15 minutes
Day 1, 6-20-13 Endurance Traveling 36 hrs
Day 2, 6-21-13 Endurance Touring 18 hr Day