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Le Mans 2007[Album]

I have recently been having a lot of trouble getting up when my alarm clock goes off, I just can’t seem to cope anymore with getting up when I’m supposed to, generally ending up in getting ready very rushed, feeling like a used and abandoned diving board , and getting to places much later than I should do. I’ve figured out that my brain refuses to do anything it doesn’t like to do anymore, that’s fair enough I guess. I'm nearly halfway to 50 and have much fewer brain cells than I did before I started abusing my liver. I realised my brain worked like this when I leapt out of bed like a 5 year old on Christmas day. But it wasn’t Christmas day, it was 03:30am last Wednesday. I once again had the feeling that made me realise why I will attend the Le Mans 24hour race every year for the rest of my life.. So, a quick shower, and yummy Bacon Sandwich made by my good sister, and off outside to pack the mini.

The Honda Jizz and Mini, ready to go!

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Due to the absolute zero luggage space in my car I opted for a Roof rack, which everything slotted onto very nicely indeed!

05:00am on the dot and we were ready to depart, so after several more visits to the loo for a pee because I was far too excited, it was time to go!

Myself and my lady headed for Clackett Lane Services with my sister and her boyfried to meet up with Sean (Electro Ted) and friend Martin, all running fine so far in the mini thank god!

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We found our Friends Steve and Abbie on the way to the port in their Mazza Spyder and the convoy was complete, and after nicely scraping the bottom of my car on speedhumps all the way through the Eurotunnel check in we were on the train and on our way!

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We fancied a change of scenery on the way down and battled a frog-eating onion bearing town which was a nice cruising summer break from Le Motorway

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Karting Nord Campsite:

Arrival at Karting Nord Campsite. From my experience by far the best campsite out of the many on offer, it has a viewing section after the Porsche Curves which puts you about 15ft away from the race cars as they floor it down the last stretch before the grandstand. We tried to get a pitch right here but have now found out to get a pitch there you really need to arrive on the Monday. The Karting Nord Campsite backs straight onto the racing team’s hospitality buildings (This year it consisted of Peugeot, Aston Martin, Spyker, and Audi) walking past here (about 500yards) gets you through a subway (see pic below) and straight into the tecno parc. This is an area which is full of bars, restaurants, team shops and many other bits and bobs, all of whom are generally looked after by lovely young French ladies!

Being slightly stumped by the lack of camping space by the trackside, even on Wednesday, we quickly found a lovely spot and set up camp, taking up as much space as possible! The pitches work on a first come first served basis, this means you can have a really nice sized pitch to your own liking so long as you arrive in good time before the race.

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This year was the earliest I have ever arrived, and the place was already buzzing with life, it’s a very exciting atmosphere experiencing the build up to the race and has to be done, especially if you are a Le Mans virgin. By Wednesday early evening we were watching all classes of cars from the comfort of our campsite, doing practice and qualifying sessions while we were cramming alcohol down ourselves.

Here are some pictures that you can get from the Karting Nord Campsite, the cars are exiting the last chicane at easily 100mph and pushing for their life to squeeze every last inch of time out of physics before very heavy breaking into the final very tight chicane before the start/finish straight.

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In this shot you can see just how close the campsite is to the grandstand:

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On Thursday I decided to treat Melanie, as she doesn’t really like cars but enjoys humouring me, so I introduced her to the delights of Le Mans Town, I know this isn’t car related but if you fancy a really nice chilled out day with the other half it’s a fantastic place to visit and is only a 10 minute drive from the campsites, this was the start of my nurturing with her to make her a Le Mans addict!

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I spied an MR2 covered in MR2 Only Decals

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Today was also the time for a visit to the local French Supermarket. The closest one is called ‘Super U’. Silly name, but packed with cheap booze and food to get you through the weekend, located just by Arnage where you can get boxes of booze for as little as 3 Euros

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Then the first bout of rain started. Such a shame to the weekend but it didn’t dampen spirits at all and got on cooking some din dins!

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After eating some nosh, the clouds cleared and we were well on our way with the beer goggles by this time, and decided to head out to the grandstand and tecno parc to drink beer and watch some qualifying, first from the campsite and then into the grand stand. Here are my two favourite pics I took all weekend, and few videos of the second qualifying session taken from the grandstand above the pits-> 10:00pm – Midnight.

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As I’m sure Rob and Ted will agree, it’s impossible to describe the feelings you get when you first see and hear a Le Mans racer go past and just how mind-numbingly fast and hard they brake into corners. The videos above don't do that justice. The beauty of the Le Mans series is all the different classes, LMP1, LMP2, GT1 and GT2. The LMP catergory are for non road going ‘prototype’ race cars, all 2 seaters weighing around 1000kgs and far too much horsepower. The two classes are dependant on weight and engine size. LMP1 are the daddies (Audi TDi, Peugeot HDifap, Pescarolo etc) and then LMP2 are 100kgs heavier with slightly less power (Radical, Zytek etc.) The GT catergory is where you come into the performance road cars, GT1 contains delights such as the Aston Martin DBR9 (1125kgs and 600Bhp-6 were entered this year), The Corvette Z06, with it’s race tuned 7.2litre engine, is probably the most insane noise you will probably hear from a car. They seem to charge round the track almost effortlessly with their low end grunt compared to the super high revving V12s found in the Astons. Also Saleen made an appearance this year too. GT2 the same kettle of fish as the LMP, slightly heavier and contained things like Porsche GT3 RSR’s, Ferrari F430’s, Spyker and Panoz and Lamboghini

After sitting and being wowed for a good while, we found a great beer tent opposite the Dunlop bridge and got the beers in. Beers on the trackside are around 4 Euros on average so around the same you would pay here although they are not quite pints. However by this point we were off our trollies and things were a bit messy

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Not trying to be too head explodingly egotistical here but I couldn’t believe the attention my mini got on the way down and at the campsite! I genuinely was shocked. The evening before we left I had a good long conversation with one of the team members from Zytek Racing who was scanning around the cars in the campsite and he loved it! (Ha! I should have asked for a job, dammit!)

Anyhoo leaving the bonnet off for a while I managed to make friends with a mini nut who had brought his completely sick EVO VI with 450Hp and weighing in at 1000Kgs! Below are some pics. There multitude of awesome cars in the campsites and in Arnage Village (Just next to the track) is truly overwhelming as Rob has already said. I saw just about every make of car down there, whether it be Cossies, Jap Cars, Ferrari’s old and new, minis, kit cars, stupid crazy cars, anything goes!! I unfortunately however only got photos of the EVO which is very bad on my behalf but I just didn’t have my camera on me at the right time.. I did however see a guy who had traliored down a race-spec F40 with well over 600Hp just to thrash about on mad Friday (Mad Friday explained below!)

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Before we knew it it was Friday and the weather had gone all Linfod Christie on us and beat the hell out of our £50 Costco Gazebo. Only one modification could be done to save her and this was the result. Shame we’re not midgets really but we all found it hilarious

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After hours of campsite chaos we decided to head for the Pits as the Pitwalk was open, where you can really poke your nose in and see under the skin of the racing cars and what the teams are doing

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Obviously some Biast spectators..

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After this we decided to go and sit in the grandstand as there was supposed to be a practice session, however sudden torrential rain obviously made them change their minds and would not be worth the risk. The weather was completely schizophrenic over the first few days and you would have monsoons one second and boiling sun the next, luckily we had just got inder the grandstand in time!

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Then came Mad Friday...

This is going to be difficult to describe the size of what goes on here, but I was up for a laugh so myself and Martin headed to Arnage village in my mini. We got about 50 metres out of the campsite before I was stopped by a bunch of mad Swedish men all cheering and shouting to me to wheelspin, which I gladly did amid the satisfaction of stupidity of the people around! The 3minute drive to Arnage then started taking a while, rammed with people everywhere getting you to burnout and just geenrally having a wicked laugh, the atomsphere so friendly it's unreal! I remember doing one burn up right down the middle of Arnage with bars on either side, the Police were out in force but they were controlling any rowdiness and had no problem with me shredding my tyres to bits to the joys of the crowd. One of the most surreal driving experiences of my life! We got to one roundabout that must have easily had 500 people standing round it, you couldn't see the roundabout, nor the sides of the road, just people everywhere. And me being a mug who had his window open, got done hard by loads of Super Soakers! It was quite refreshing though as the sun was rather hot at this point!

Saturday Morning came and it was time for an early walk up to the grandstand. Race kick off is at 3pm but we got up there at around 11am as there’s lots going on before the start including a legends race with some awesome historic Le Mans racers including GT40s, D type Jaguars and Aston DB5s to name but a few.
It’s also advisable to get there early as then you can secure a really good spot on the concrete steps in front of the grandstand and get a great view, take your camping chairs along and it’s even comfier than the grandstand and you’ll be £50 better off!

The race start is an experience that makes it worth driving down there just to witness it. The race start is an experience that makes it worth driving down there just to witness it. I have put a video link below but due to poor quality you really can't hear how insane the noise is of so many different types of race cars all flooring it at the same time which is a shame but you get the idea. The race is started by a lap round to line up and then a parade lap by a Pace Car, and then a rolling start into 24 hours of racing. 24 Hours… It’s hard to fathom how on earth these cars can run flat out for 24 hours… an entire day… constantly being driven to the limit. I dread to think what pathetic amount of time my mini would last doing something like that. Probably about enough time for the pit crew to go for a pee after the start!

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LeMans 2007 Race Start

Saturday night saw a live performance of oLd sKooL “The Levellers”, who put on a fantastic performance just across from the Dunlop bridge. This night was very memorable, although not a fan of their music they put on an awesome performance, we were all wasted, and then when they finished it was off to the beer tent where I enjoyed leviating not too long ago.. while listening to the sounds of the race cars still driving flat out, 9 hours into the race.

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You can go down to spectate as far as the corner before the Mulsanne straight. I was very confused this year as they have completely rebuilt this section making the corner much shallower and longer, creating greater speed. I felt this was a shame as the previous years I have been this used to be the best night time spot, where you could stand about 10ft away from the cars braking hard into the tight corner, their brakes glowing like Halos from hell, and pushing it as hard as they can into the carner to get as much speed as possible for the 200+Mph Mulsanne straight.

By this time my camera memory card was full unfortunately, so it was just some solid watching, but not before visiting the fun fair for a ride on the big wheel. From here you can see them from bird’s eye view flying into the last chicane, and down the start/finish straight. An awesome spectacle at night with all the flames from the exhaust and sparks from underneath where they’re trying to cut the corner as much as possible!

I lasted until 6am when I could handle no more, I once again out drank myself and had to retire for a couple of hours to recharge. Ted was still on one and ended up falling asleep by the trackside in the campsite waiting to take some pictures as the sun rose!

The surreal atmosphere of 6am after serious boozing is somethign you will never forget.

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The weather stayed perfect throughout the race until the last 30mins where it absolutely heaved it down for about 3 hours. This didn’t stop them though and the race was finished, as I think Rob wrote, Audi taking first and Peugeot with their new HDi racer in 2nd. And at LAST Aston beat Corvette. 6 Aston Martin’s were entered and all 6 finished, a benchmark at proving how reliable these cars were, even Audi had a car go out. Well Done Aston!

I’m sorry how long this report has been but I really wanted to relive my experience to you in picture and words, and why you all need to go there and realise what you’ve been missing. Le Mans 24hours, despite the weather has again proven to me why I just cannot possibly miss a year while I am on this planet.

I will soon be posting up information on details for Le Mans 2008 with everything you need to know, I am going to be organising a very big Teamshock Trip for 2008 and will be organising well in advance.

So for the time being, Watch this space, and for thousands of videos of the 2007 race, go to YouTube now.


My girlfriend who has never been interested in cars or racing is now absolutely hooked, and was bugging me on the way home about going to see some race series at Silverstone, she even loved the drive there and back in the rattle shed! Wohoo!

Also here are the problems I had with my mini on the massive excursion:

Roof Rack needed re-tightening
Got a stone chip on the windscreen.

Absolutley smashing!

With Thanks to Electro Ted for the decent pics as well

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Mr Toakley, Over and Out

Posted by DaveB on 1pm Tue (19/06/07)

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