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24 Hours of Le Mans

     The 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s the most famous race world-wide, bringing pride and prestige to drivers from many series. The teams and auto makers come from every corner of the globe to the south of France each June. The locals say "Des 24 Heures Du Mans" and like any other great race the landmarks are as well known as the race itself. What race fan hasn’t heard of the Mulsanne straight, Arnage, the corner at Tertre Rouge and the Dunlop bridge.
     The idea of endurance racing is so simple. How difficult could it be? Get in your car, and drive the greatest distance possible in exactly 24 hours. Speed helps, but reliability is critical to finishing. The race was begun informally by today’s standards.
     In 1906, a race was held on a loop of local roads through the region of La Sarthe, just south of the city of Mans. In 1906, the winner drove about 780 miles, total. The course layout changed in 1923 to substantually what we see today. That year the "1st" LeMans winner was a Bentley Automobile. They traveled about 2000 miles. In June of 1988, Our winning Jaguar team car drove over 5 thousand 3 hundred miles, a record that still stands. {Slight course changes and new rules insure that the record will probably never change.}
     In the movie, Le Mans, she said "... but, what is so important about driving faster than anyone else? Michael Delany (Steve McQueen) says "A lot of people go through life doing things badly. Racing is important to men who do it well. It's life. Anything that happens before....or after, is just waiting."
     In every 24 Hours of Le Mans there is a great amount of waiting. The teams wait on the arrival of the 4 PM start.... they wait for the long darkness of night, maybe we wait on the rain and always the attrition to come. Drivers await their rotation in the car. We wait for the sunrise that always follows ...and wait for the return of 4 PM on Sunday.
     It's only 24 hours. It's such a simple idea. How difficult could it be?  

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