le mans saturday Race day!
Saturday felt like the hottest day of our trip, and we were about to spend as much time as possible of it outside watching the pinnacle of endurance racing. With giddy excitement, I couldn’t wait to head to the track to make sure no amount of traffic and crowds would make us late for the start of the race.
Traffic heading in to the track on Saturday was lighter as the largest reason for the delays on Friday was from all the spectators heading to their campsites. Now filled with spectators, the roads were relatively manageable. I enjoyed walking the Corral and seeing Corvettes wearing French, German, Italian, Swiss, Danish and Norwegian license plates. Lunch was another homemade lunch with salads, and steak as the main course.
After lunch we headed to our grandstand with two fellow Corvette fans from the Toronto area. The walk was a good opportunity to see more of the track, however the heat of the day certainly made both of us happy we had a covered grandstand from which to watch the race.
There are many seats available, however, if you plan on attending buy your tickets early to ensure the greatest selection. Typically tickets go on sale in October for the race in June. By the time I bought tickets at the end of November most of the grandstands closer to the start/finish line were taken, or only had single seats sprinkled throughout.
We lucked out! We had grandstand 11, at the end of the start/finish with our seats in the last row, at the top. This gave us railings to lean back against, and also with the height off the ground, provided a light breeze to keep it tolerable. When we were walking around the pit lane the day before all of the grandstands provided great views of the track and a giant TV screen was easy to find to follow the race action.
Then while the cars were lined up, the French Air Force performed a flyover – for 30 seconds I didn’t want the grandstand covered. This event provided no shortage of people watching available, if the race ever became boring:
During qualifying cars lapped between 3 minutes 17 seconds (LMP1 class vehicles like Toyota & Porsche) to just around 4 minutes. During the warm-up laps the pace felt like they were crawling around the track — that all changed once the pace car dashed for pit lane and the LMP1 cars roared to life with the French tricolour being waved to begin the race.
As an amateur photographer, the pace laps didn’t prepare me for the high speed the vehicles would be traveling as they passed our grandstand, and head up to the chicane before the Dunlop bridge. There are quite a lot of pictures of very clear fences, guardrail and curbing I took that day. It was easy to tell the race had begun when the crowds around the concession stands had almost completely disappeared:
We stayed in the stands until most vehicles had made their first pit stop and the race continued under green flag conditions. I then decided we should leave our lovely shaded area and walk around.
The Le Mans museum was free as part of general admission. We left our seats and proceeded to go through the museum. Like most of France, air conditioning was non-existent, but the parts we did explore were well laid out.
The museum also had many cars on display — if the temperature was lower we definitely would have spent more time in the museum. The neatest feature is that there is a central area where model cars of the winner of LeMans by year were on display. To me this was a creative approach instead of walls filled with pictures.
From the museum we then made our walk back to our rental car at the Corral. The crowds in the vendor alley were much greater than our Friday evening visit. We stopped for souvenirs at the Corvette Racing’s booth.
By the time we returned to the Corral the heat had won. I’ll agree the 38C was when we first started the vehicle, but it didn’t go below 33C the rest of the day: We hopped in the car and blasted the air conditioning while we headed for an early dinner. After eating I had to concede that the heat had won. We returned to the hotel for the night where we watched a bit of the race on TV before quickly falling asleep.
Permalinks to other parts of our trip:
- Toronto: To the Gate
- Flight Toronto to London
- Doubletree by Hilton Hotels London Heathrow
- Day in London
- Hampton Court Palace
- Day 2 in London
- Train London to Paris
- AccorHotels in France
- Palace of Versailles
- Around Paris, and listening to a Canadian
- Le Mans – Friday
- Le Mans – Race Start
- Le Mans – Sunday Finish
- Mont Saint Michel
- Normandy to Paris
- Paris to Toronto