Vintage Audi R8, and the start of the Le Mans tradition

Monterey, CA — In 1999 Audi celebrated its Centennial Anniversary at the vintage race at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, CA. The was a chance to see the Audi brand in all of its glory including a glimpse at the then in development Audi R8 LMP (and when has the car not been in development.)
At this time the car had not yet achieved its first win at the storied 24 hours of Le Mans — but between seeing this car and a number of the vintage Audi cars that were there, it was the start of our father’s day trip this year.
It was also the first time that Joe (at left) acted as a journalist, making pictures and writing stories for the local Audi club in their newsletter and online.
There real story at the historic event was the old old Audi race cars that were brought in to help tell the Audi story. These were cars that dated back to the mid to late 1930s. There were three cars, a 1937 Type C Streamliner, a 1938 Type D Grand Prix car, and a 1939 Type C/D Mountain Climbing car.
To my mind the sexiest of the three was the Streamliner, which Audi recreated since none of the originals survived World War II. This is the car in which the famous Bernd Rosemeyer was killed during a test drive in 1938 at a speed in excess of 250 mph. The sleek silver bullet certainly looks as if it is able to go that fast while merely sitting on the floor of the display tent (at right).
The 1938 Type D Gran Prix car was also interesting since it was one of the first to have its engine in the rear of the car. This car also displayed classic racing lines and the model that Audi brought to the show at Laguna Seca was an immaculate display of polished metal. Audi also had a version of this car that they rolled out onto the track. It never went fast but it was a treat see the old car wind through the Laguna Seca track. It was also a treat to the Class C/D car running with the R8.
We wonder if the tradition of Le Mans, as it has grown in our minds will be as large in real life. Only time will tell. Stay tuned.

The attraction of the 24 Hours of Le Mans

North Bend, WA — There are a number of things that attract one to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

First the race itself is most interesting both from the standpoint of the technology that is involved in the cars that are raced there, and also from the strategy that the various teams use during the course of the race.
Having covered a wide range of racing events in a “previous life” the 24 Hours of Le Mans is something that I had been aware of, but since I was more focused on boat racing, it stayed in the back of my mind. The movie with Steve McQueen (seen at left from the movie) by the same name that came out in 1971 certainly brought a great deal of atttention to the race.

Although there is a great story to the making of the movie (check out Speed Channel as every so often — you can catch it there around Le Mans time), but I think that the quote of the movie is: “Racing is life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting”, which the McQueen character says in response to the question why risk your life racing cars. For many racers this is a truism that explains their need not just to go fast but to control a machine at speed.

I think of the likes boat racing greats Bill Muncey, Billy Seebold, and Chip Hanauer when I hear that quote in the movie.

While attributed by many to Steve McQueen — and it certainly sounds like something that McQueen would say, others have attributed thie saying to French driving legend, Maurice Trintignant, who won Le Mans in 1954 and also had a driving career in Formula One that lasted 14 years. A complete history of Trintignant can be found here.

For me, however, it was not until Audi got involved in the event that I really started to pay regular attention to Le Mans. This is because the aforementioned son had become a devotee of the Audi brand and so we watched goodly portions of the event on the Speed Channel live.

I recall watching the end of the first LeMans where Audi won — I believe it was a one, two, three sweep — early one Sunday morning with my son.

Those are the moments that bind us together — along with other racing moments — and I am sure that so will our time together covering the 75th 24 hours of Le Mans.

LeMans or bust!

North Bend, WA — The die is cast as they say. My son Joe and I are heading to one of the most famous car races in the history of automobile racing, LeMans. This is not just any LeMans — but the 75th running of the race.

I am, of course, just a dad who enjoys spending time with his son and since LeMans ends on Father’s day each year this is the ultimate Father’s day for me — and for Joe too. You should also know that Audi has dominated this event over the last seven or eight years and should also do so this year.

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