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Any Le Mans Drivers/Owners on F-Chat?

Discussion in 'Other Racing' started by wax, Dec 20, 2005.

  1. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Dirty Harry
    Curious as to who/what/when.
     
  2. amenasce

    amenasce Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Andrew Menasce
    Owners as in owners of ex LM cars ?
     
  3. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    No, Team owners.

    Active participants in capacity as Driver, Team owner, that sort of thing.
     
  4. Kram

    Kram Formula Junior

    Jul 3, 2004
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    Park bench, Canada
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    Mark
    #4 Kram, Dec 20, 2005
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  5. s_eric09

    s_eric09 Formula Junior

    Feb 7, 2004
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    George
    how does it feel to drive full speed throught that long long straight... more importantly what goes through your mind?
     
  6. Seth

    Seth Formula 3

    Feb 8, 2004
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    wow!! team? class??? info info info!!!!!
     
  7. Cavallino Motors

    Cavallino Motors F1 World Champ
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    Martin W.
    Roland Linder
    back in 196X plus again in 200X :)
     
  8. JoTeC

    JoTeC Formula Junior

    Jan 9, 2004
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    Joe Hullett
    #8 JoTeC, Dec 20, 2005
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    I am very involved with IMSA and Grand-Am here in the US and I ran in the ELMS circuit in 2000 with a Porsche 996 GT3 R and we did Le Mans that year in it as well but went out in less than 2 hours we got in the oil from the VW LMP2 and got into the wall. We set the pole in GT3 with the Callaway C12R in the 2001 Le Mans race. We led for 13 hours until engine mechanical failure.
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  9. lmpdesigner

    lmpdesigner Formula 3
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    Nov 5, 2003
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    Brian Willis
    Does designing a car that won the 24 Hours of LeMans count?

    (1999 BMW LMR-V12)

    Does Engineering a car that won the 24 Hours of LeMans count?

    (2004 R8 Audi Sport Japan Team Goh)
     
  10. JoTeC

    JoTeC Formula Junior

    Jan 9, 2004
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    Joe Hullett
    Very much so! I'd say you rock!
     
  11. Juan-Manuel Fantango

    Rossa Subscribed

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    For sure. It is incredible who trolls this site- as far as that goes, you could be talking to the Pope and never know it!

    Please post some information regarding your cars, I could not see the full car on your profile page.
     
  12. ClassicFerrari

    ClassicFerrari F1 World Champ
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    You got that right. You just never know.

    This thread is getting exciting. Guys please post some more!!!

    Kram? More info, pics!!!
     
  13. SefacHotRodder

    SefacHotRodder F1 World Champ

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    Cool! Welcome aboard :)
     
  14. BMW.SauberF1Team

    BMW.SauberF1Team F1 World Champ

    Dec 4, 2004
    12,697
    That's awesome! The V12 LMR is one of my favorite all time race cars. Cool to have someone like you on the forum.
     
  15. vince308

    vince308 Formula 3

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    #15 vince308, Dec 21, 2005
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  16. Kram

    Kram Formula Junior

    Jul 3, 2004
    867
    Park bench, Canada
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    Mark

    So you want to know the story? Well, I’m minding a sick child at the moment and while he is sleeping have some time to type, so here it is.....

    Le Mans, the 24 hour race. That phrase has a great sound to it. Roaring engines, cherry red disk brakes, headlights in the night, one pair, then suddenly two pairs as the faster car jinks out and muscles in on the line, driver changes, air guns hammering at nuts, the sudden quiet when an engine doesn’t start.......

    It’s got it all. What’s not to love?

    Mind you, being dumb as a sack of hammers none of this occurred to me until I was twenty five, by which time, although I had done a load of stuff, none of had anything to do with racing.

    I went and had a look at the race in ‘81.

    It was amazing! I couldn’t believe the energy pumped out by those engines as the cars hammered by, my chest being pounded by exhaust sound waves. The straight! It was actually unreal how fast they were going past - at over 200 mph. The car was a speck, it was a car, it was a blur, it was gone, faster then you can read this sentence. It didn’t displace air as it went by, it generated a WIND, one that pulled at your hat and shoved tree branches aside; and if one car was passing the other out - Lord! It was like watching giants fight in that the forces generated by the conflict were so far removed from our physical strength there was almost no terms of reference. Driving one of those things was virtually inconceivable.

    I slept in a hotel and then came back to the circuit.

    They were still at it! The same cars!! How could something so powerful and fast even be built? To hell with the program, it had to be a different race, nothing could last that long at that pace! To see a car go by once was amazing, but to come back THE NEXT DAY and see the same cars still going at over 200 mph twice a lap, every lap, well, it just blew one’s mind. There was only one word to describe this precise violence: Compelling, yes, compelling.

    I was doing some work in Ireland. There was a race circuit near Naas. They had a school with two old Formula Fords. I could drive one of them without spinning or stalling. There was a place for me in the school if I wanted to come every Saturday.

    I said ‘Yes’.

    I now know that if an orangoutang with dengue fever had showed up there would have been a place in the school for him too, but fortunately he was occupied that day, so it was me in the car.

    Things got better. If I bought a F.F. 1600 (and this August Academy just happened to have a 3 year old Royal to sell) the school would prepare it for me. I wondered if I could I help teach at the school to defray the expenses? Fortunately an influx of pupils with - unbelievably - even less talent then myself arrived, so the answer ended up being a ‘Yes’.

    So I started racing in Ireland. I was now 26.

    There were boys racing at that circuit who had been there since God was in short trousers. They knew every trick and winding of the place, and they were handy enough drivers to boot. The scruteneers were related to everyone by blood or by cash, I don’t know, but things were absolutely wild. The wheel banging! Nose cones flying like confetti, paddock punchups, lap times judged from hourglasses, it was amazing. Now THAT was a school. Formula Ford was like a narrows in the river in that drivers jammed there like logs, either aground and held back by finances, roaring fresh into the pile propelled by a current of tallest, or just floating there, big and dominant. Lord I learned. After a year I also drove a F.F. 2000, which was pretty much the same, only with slicks and wings. How good was I? Well, I was sort of there, being one of the boys that made the winner look good, but not being anything too special.

    I was offered a works F2000 drive in England.

    Now that sounds good, doesn’t it? Well the manufacturer wasn’t selling any cars so he had to try something. I had given him his first win and his first lap record, busting an impossible time set by Senna, so he had given me the job. I guess the orangoutang was still busy elsewhere.

    Things went O.K. The F2000 grid in England was good at the time in that everyone who was on it was as tough has hell. One day at Silverstone the top nine of us on the grid had set the same time to the 1,000 of a second - who got there first was on pole. Looking back most of the grid went on to F1 or win Le Mans (Donnelly, Bailey, Herbert, Sala, Wallace, Gugelmin, Brabham - the list goes on). There were guys that were never going to win but would keep you really honest, like Rick Morris. Hell, down midfield was some guy called Bradley; he sold fish for a living, and I’d seen him beat Senna in a straight fight at Donnington on a drying circuit. They were tough.

    So, with nothing but two classes of Formula Ford I basically talked my way into driving for an impecunious English team at Le Mans. It was that simple. My Irish racing license enabled me to race in England - it was an international - thus, through a back door, I had the paperwork to do the job.

    The car, which was a Dome, had been built some time in the late 70’s by a Japanese parts manufacturer who wanted to have a good show at Le Mans. To this end those boys had designed something that was as narrow as a bicycle, and it had run, and it had blown up, and it had been superseded by a design that could actually go around corners. A couple of years later a small british team bought it from the chicken farmer that was using it as a Hen Holiday Inn, painted it BRG, renamed it an ‘82 and polished the hell out of it. The plan was that their car would run with the big boys, in the C1 class.

    With my C.V. I was lucky to get in the door.

    In the team owner's view the automobile had been brought to Le Mans just to race, not to test and not to practice with. Each driver was given three laps - at night - to get in his time so that he could race, and that was that.

    Learn a circuit? At night? With 23 corners and Jacky Ickx flying about? Hey, no problem!

    I was white with fear when I got into the car, particularly as my co-driver was harping on about a flogged rose joint on a front wishbone. It would seem that the steering wobbled about a bit. As did the car. Oh yes, it had been clocked on the straight at 222 mph, so it was fast. Keep an eye on the mirrors, they had just gone on. And good luck!

    There was a fresh-ish 3.3 DFL in the back and it growled like bear in heat as I set off onto the circuit. The Mulsanne straight had a kink about 2/3 down the way, and that, I had been reliably told, was flat. There was a bump in the road before it so that the lights would sort of be pointing the wrong way when you were supposed to turn in, so one should count to four after the bump and start sawing on the wheel.

    Did I take the kink flat first time out?

    A very big HELL NO!!! I stomped on the brakes. It wasn’t bad actually. I took it without lifting on the second lap.

    By then things were interesting. Flat out in top total horsepower equaled total drag, which is to say this animal of a motor was straining, pumping out every erg of power it could while a giant hand of air held it back, squishing the car down to the circuit and fingering at wiper and mirrors. The mirrors weren't up to the fight; almost simultaneously they just vanished into the night, and then the wiper blade was suddenly jerked into the middle of the windscreen, moving so quickly it went between being there to being here with a quantum leap. The car did wander, but one could live with it; all I had to do was one lap within a certain % of pole and the Dome ‘82 was racing and I was an entrant.
    On the next lap I came up to a Jolly Club Ferrari Boxer who was also on his qualifying run. He too was hard at it, I could see flames coming out of his exhaust, making the whole night blacker, his car straining to go faster. The odd thing about the view was that subjectively he was reversing down the road towards me at some 40 mph! (He didn’t make the cut.) I kept an eye out for headlights in the trees beside me for without mirrors I felt naked, and then I pulled back into the pits and switched off. Sitting in the silent car, knowing I was in, now that was a great moment.

    I was 28 and it was a week away from my next birthday.

    Now, you should know that Dome was cursed. If it competed in a six hour race it broke in hour four. If it did a 24 hour competition in broke after sixteen. It wouldn’t finish, unless the race was red flagged I guess. Even then, it would probably have been the car that brought out the red flag in the first place. So it lived up to it’s promises; it broke in the small hours of the morning, but not before I had learned to feel at home in it and, more importantly, at over 200 mph. Le Mans is almost always run the week of the full moon, and seeing our closest neighbor blurred by trees flashing as it rises in the warm summer air is incredible.
    The straight is dull - as are all straights. I would use the first third to let go of the wheel with a hand and shake it, to give the wrists a break, and then all one had to do was keep an eye out for traffic, faster and slower, and focus for the kink. Once you got up to speed any stone on the road hitting the underbody sounded like gunfire, and if you were slipstreaming a works Porsche or something else fast, their diffuser would pull up dust and stones from the track and pump it into your air vents, leaving you dry eyed and squinting when you most needed to look.

    I got on well with the crew chief, in that I knew the RPM at various corners and the temperatures of the fluids around the circuit. He got a job with Spice, and the next year, when they were looking for a third driver for Le Mans, I got the phone call. Would I be interested in driving for the team that were leading the C2 Championship? You can guess what I said...

    But back to today - my sick charge is stirring and needs some soup. If you want to hear about the other years then ask and I’ll post, but I don’t want to become a bore.

    Kram
     
  17. Juan-Manuel Fantango

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    This is a great read, if you have not written a book, do so...more please. I had flashes of LeMan's with Steve McQueen as I read this, but with updated cars, and you playing the lead part.
     
  18. Bugattiart

    Bugattiart F1 Veteran

    Mar 8, 2004
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    Carsten Christiansen
    #18 Bugattiart, Dec 21, 2005
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    @Brian, :)
    Did you know that you're actually mentioned in Tom Kristensen's new book about all his Audi R8 races....just published in Denmark, and I got my copy yesterday! Text in Danish and English......it's a superb book loaded with wonderful colour pics from some of the best motorsport photographers!
    Took a few snapshots so that you can see for yourself :)

    Best regards

    Carsten
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  19. BigAl

    BigAl F1 Veteran

    Mar 17, 2002
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    man, very interesting read Mark, thnx for taking the time to post whilst nursing a little one.

    I've always been fascinated with the Mulsanne Strait and the flat out speeds and didn't like it when chicanes were installed. I've posted several times in the past and others have chimed in about the dangers, cars lifting, etc. I still don't like them from a fan's standpoint. The idea of a race course where you go from 40mph to 220-240 is amazing. Perhaps us yanks like the idea of flat out, balls to the wall racing. I'd be interested in your thoughts on the chicanes.
     
  20. Christian.Fr

    Christian.Fr Two Time F1 World Champ

    Jun 9, 2005
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    Kristensen and Audi R8 so good, marvellous drivers.

    Le Mans with Audi R8: it s every time a nice week end!

    and Bentley speed8 too.

    Waiting Ferrari,and waiting,waiting....
     
  21. Wolfgang

    Wolfgang F1 World Champ
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    Damn, thats what I call a thread - thread of the month!!!

    Keep on guys, what a honor & pleasure to read your experiences.

    Thank you!

    Wolfgang
     
  22. Kram

    Kram Formula Junior

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    Thanks! My good profile too.....
     
  23. b-mak

    b-mak F1 Veteran

    Great story, Mark.
     
  24. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    #24 wax, Dec 21, 2005
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    Nice to see wonderful stories, let alone folks from all over chiming in with backup and pictures of their own, ain't it? Man - I could feel the wind, sorta kinda.

    Some of you may know me as a fact-hound, and though I've verified statements here and there regarding the majority of the present company of Le Mans cohorts, I can't seem to find any Le Mans documentation on our own Roland Linder. It's driving me bonkers!

    Regardless - I'd like to know more about this endurance race, so what in-depth Le Mans site would give rock-solid info hopefully going back as far in history as possible?

    Surprisingly, the site whose tagline is "Facts and figures about motorsport past and present, from the obvious to the obscure" - http://8w.forix.com/ - doesn't have this info (but, I'm not a member, so maybe I'm missing something), nor does http://www.formula2.net/ which has a pretty good database - or a few others I've poked through. I haven't poked around in the Moto field so much, so was he a Moto champ in Le Mans or was it cars?

    This pic is from one of his sponsor's sites - Mother's - so, obviously I'm on the right track.
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  25. Schatten

    Schatten F1 World Champ
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    Just wanted to say, what a great thread. Would love to hear more stories from Kram, Impdesigner and others who have had participation with Le Mans.
     

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