The annual 24 hour race at Le Mans starts this Saturday the 18th, and is gearing up (pun intended) to be a real racer’s race. Whether you are familiar with endurance racing or not, this year is going to be a great one to tune in for. From Porsche return to the top echelon of the sport to the return of the Ford GT and it’s storied rivalry with Ferrari, watching Le Mans this weekend is going to be a must.
If you’re not the kind to necessarily tune in to auto racing, let me start by explaining that Le Mans is nothing like the cookie-cutter sameness of NASCAR, the Indy 500, or F1. I totally get that to an outsider, all those cars look the same, drive the same, and the races tend to be uneventful multi-hour speeches from the announcers about how epic it would be if X would happen, yet X never happens. Not to fear, because endurance racing and Le Mans in particular are nothing like that.
The FIA World Endurance Championship series, of which the Le Mans race is the crown jewel, is a fantastic race series made of up several different classes of cars. Long story short, this means you’ll see a Corvette battling a Ferrari battling a space-age “prototype” car bred for racing. What these mixed classes mean is that not all the cars are moving at the same pace, yet they are all on the same track at the same time. This pace discrepancy inevitably leads to the ultra-fast prototypes having to work their way through the slower field, and the everyday cars having to race in their class while also dodging faster cars. This traffic-factor makes for some incredible moves and racing in general.
Even when zoomed into a single class, the racing the last few years has been incredibly close and exciting. Check out this crazy finish from a very similar 24 hour race from last month at the Nurburgring. Those last 20 minutes were epic racing and full of drama. Or how about one of the all-time great battles a few year ago at Sebring. These clips are classic endurance car racing, and Le Mans is the big daddy of them all.
Now that I’ve got you amped up, I have to bring you back down with the realization that watching an European 24hr auto race is no easy feat in every country. If you’re in an racing junky country like the UK or Germany, it should be a breeze to catch the action. If, like us, you are in the United States of Freedom, watching Le Mans is an exercise in internet sleuthing and patching together different streams of online feeds.FOX Sports Go will be streaming the race if you qualify to view it in your area, and there’s always a smattering of online streams you can find the day of. One of the best ways is also the most old school. Radio Le Mans consistently has the best commentary on endurance racing, and streaming them on your phone allows you to continue with your normal Saturday and Sunday while staying up to date on the race.
However you do it, make sure you tune in to this race. Ford is back after 50 years to eat Ferrari’s lunch. Porsche is defending last year’s title against an always-hungry Audi. And you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen night racing on a 200mph track…