Standing all day and night to watch the 24 Hours of Le Mans: part two
Note: The first part of David’s Le Mans saga can be read … HERE
My attempt to watch all the 24 Hours of Le Mans continued and I found myself isolated on the sofa in my living room with only my cat, Henry, to keep me company. My family didn’t give up on me, but they had better ways to spend their Saturdays. Unfazed, I knew in my heart that I was going to climb this mountain on my own, but I also knew that the top could not be reached without the support of my mind.
I settled in and started watching the race, mainly focusing on the Alpine in the hypercar category and my man, Juan Pablo Montoya, driving DragonSpeed in the LMP2 category. JPM is in the twilight of his career but it’s pretty silly to watch him drive when the mood suits him.
My admiration for JPM Much of it relies on his ability to run and excel in different disciplines. His diverse racing career has seen successful stints in F1, NASCAR, WEC and IndyCar. I could go on and on until nauseated about his accomplishments, but to put it in simple context, he’s a win at Le Mans unless you join Graham Hill as the only driver to win the Racing Triple Crown. The Triple Crown is not official but includes victories at the Indy 500, the Monaco GP and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
It’s a tough feat and Fernando Alonso is quite vocal in his pursuit. I realize that it takes the overall victory at Le Mans, not just the class victory, to win a true Triple Crown, but I would give him the praise if he could make it. Since there are no strict guidelines for an unofficial award, it can be seen as desired.
After five hours of racing, I opened my first Mountain Dew and JPM was in 14th place overall. The soda was for the pep and to make up for the espresso, sometimes you just need a little sugar in your diet. Between the Mountain Dews and the Sour Patch Kids, I had more than my usual daily allowance. I kind of watch what I eat, not a lot of candy or soda on a daily basis, but today is an exception.
Over the laps and hours my thoughts drifted from the actual race to the aesthetics of the cars. I have always associated the Gulf Racing livery with Le Mans and this year it was absent from the race. My love of simple blue and orange paint runs so deep that I own a pair of Gulf jackets, one a gas station attendant jacket and the other a motorcycle jacket with the familiar Gulf Racing patches.
I have spent my life in the western half of the United States and as such there are no gas stations in the Gulf. While on a business trip to Albany, New York in 2016, I found a Gulf resort and gladly discouraged it inside as a bizarre kind of pilgrimage. Some people have the Sistine Chapel, and I have a gas station in upstate New York.
I started to feel bad for neglecting my family during the run and started watching it on my phone so that 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 is not a domestic terrorist with a mask, but rather an adorable goof.
With me watching the race on the Motor Trend app, we were family again. Although I was glued to my phone and largely ignored my wife and son as they watched “Beetle juice”. They are an understanding couple and I have no idea what my life would be like without their patience.
My goal of trying to watch all 24 hours of Le Mans was becoming family news when I got an email from my cousin in Australia. A devoted Corvette fan, he too watched the race and we discussed the events, my disdain for Ferrari and the addition of fuel injection to a vintage Corvette.
Our joke made me realize the greatness of the motorsport community and how it can bring us all together. My correspondence with family across the globe gave us a shared experience and on Twitter our former writer, Joshua Kerr, gave me the support of England to continue burning the midnight oil.
We all come from different cultures and have our own nuances, but an event like Le Mans can give us a moment to come together despite the chasms that separate us. Love is more powerful than hate and that extends to our love of cars, racing and everything in between.
This sense of camaraderie among strangers was also prevalent when I saw Cypress Hill last week. The concert had a wide range of many cultures and we all had a great time unified by some classic tunes.
I was also a little stoned during the concert and this may have affected my perception of unity. But no matter how drunk I was that night, there was a sense of community when B Real and Sen Dog let go of the Phunky Feel One.
The race continued but my body started to sag around midnight after 17 consecutive hours of Le Mans. My mind was strong, but at 43 a long day fueled by candy, espresso and Mountain Dew was starting to take its toll. The same way I can’t party like I did a decade or two ago, I can’t live on a ton of sugar and feel good.
At 1:06 am (PST), I ran out of gas. I was almost inconsistent watching the race and knew I needed a 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. For some I failed, but for me I did not absolutely tank.
My take is that I have accomplished more than I thought I could, which is watching almost 18 straight hours of motorsport, and that will prepare me for the 24 Hours of Man of the next year.
It wasn’t a waste of time but I began to realize that with the time I spent watching Le Mans, my alternative might have been to watch Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Counter. attack, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker and Rogue One. It could have been a great day, but I enjoyed watching Le Mans more even though I was missing six hours.