Le Mans 24h substitute = Lone Star Le Mans (Austin) + Petit Le Mans (Atlanta)

I don’t think one could truly substitute a race of Le Mans 24h magnitude. But one could certainly try.

Last year I wrote about trying to make a decision as to which European Endurance race I should marshal (click here: Which European endurance race do I pick?) I’m proud to say that the 24h of Nurburgring has materialized and 24h of Spa is within reach just over a month away. But Le Mans 24h, the race that Patrick Dempsey in a recent Jalopnik interview called the best endurance race in the world, has gotten away.

But I won’t despair. I’ve picked a few alternative races with the words: “Le Mans” in their titles a little closer to home. Among them are the Lone Star Le Mans at COTA in Texas and Petit Le Mans in Georgia at Road Atlanta. I also signed up for the Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen which is obviously at Watkins Glen in Upstate New York.

wec cota grid porsche 2
WEC at COTA 2014

I have worked all of the races before and unlike the original classic in France where we work in shifts with plenty of downtime, I expect to work the entirety of each of the races for all of these events, cumulatively totaling more than the 24 hours of flat out racing. This is pretty exciting. There will be 6 hours of World Endurance Championship (WEC) at COTA supported by about 3 hours of IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship (TUSC), and 10 hours for the season finale IMSA TUSC at Road Atlanta. As well as 6 hours of IMSA TUSC at Watkins Glen International. 6+2:45+10+6=24h 45mins.

sahlen's six hour at the glen 1
old Daytona Prototype from Grand-Am series at Watkins Glen

What do I expect to see at each of the races?

WEC on US soil is always a great sight. I hope the Nissan Nismo GT-R LMP1 car makes an appearance at COTA after it’s debut at Le Mans France. I also hope that Ford brings the latest Ford GT race car to Texas after it’s debut in France. I’m sure the fields of cars will be far smaller in the US as they will be in France, but whatever shows up will be a welcome sight.

petit le mans grid 2014
The grid at Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans

What will I miss at Le Mans?

The Aston Martin historics race featuring GT1, GT2, GT3 and GT4 race cars of various vintage that have raced before at Le Mans and apparently some of the Nurburgring 24h specials.

McLaren is also celebrating it’s 25th anniversary and there was talk of McLaren race car parade featuring some rare gems from their illustrious racing history. I wish I could have seen that.

But for the price of doing one event I get to do three, and that makes me quite happy. I have now organized the conclusion to my racing season this year, and I’m proud of what events I have added to my resume as a marshal. The planning for 2016 season is well underway and I’m hoping that both Dubai 24h and Bathurst 12h materialize.