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I am excited to be writing a blog for LowesRacing.com each week as we lead up to our bid aboard the #97 Lowe’s Aston Martin Vantage GTE in the world’s most famous sports car endurance race – the 24 Hours of Le Mans – on June 16. Imagine competing in six or more NASCAR races back-to-back. is a true test of reliability and endurance, for the cars and the drivers.
I wanted to start off my series of blogs by giving you a bit of background on this historic race, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year. The event is held near the picturesque town of , France, at the Circuit de la Sarthe – an 8.4-mile track that includes local roads that are open to the public during the year. It is one of the fastest race tracks in the world.
I will always remember the tag line for the 1971 movie Le Mans starring Steve McQueen: “Steve McQueen takes you for a drive in the country. The country is France. The drive is at 200 MPH!”
I drove this circuit for the first time in 2007 and I can honestly say it was breathtaking. You can feel the tremendous history surrounding this place and it was almost like going back in time. So many great drivers in iconic racing cars have competed here over the years and I actually had goose bumps when I left the pits for the first time.
Le Mans is a track where we are at full throttle most of a lap, and going over 200+ mph on public roads was an unbelievable experience. There are four sections of the track, the most famous being the Mulsanne straight, where the cars reach their maximum speed. To do that, however, you try to minimize the car’s drag, so there is very little downforce and the section of right and left turns known as the Porsche Curves can be extremely tricky to maneuver.
This makes it very fast and also very challenging and I absolutely love driving it. If you make one small mistake, however, you pay big.
Obviously, running at top speeds for most of a lap plus hard-braking corners like Arnage can really take its toll on equipment. Our longest race so far this year was the Twelve Hours of Sebring where we finished third, so we have a lot of confidence in the durability of the Lowe’s car.
I have made three starts at Le Mans and the first one was my best with a class pole and second-place finish in the race. Hopefully, we can top that next month.
As far as the atmosphere around this race, this is one of the most impressive events that I have been involved in. The fans are fantastic and come out in droves for all of the activities surrounding the race. They are extremely knowledgeable and many bring photos to share from the old days.
To give you a little taste of its history, check out this short video created by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the sanctioning body for the event. http://youtu.be/V400B2ftU9E
Next week, I will take you behind the scenes to some of the activities and introduce you to my teammates.
Until then, thank you for your support.