Home » NASCAR At Le Mans: How To Watch And Enjoy The 24 Hours Of Le Mans

NASCAR At Le Mans: How To Watch And Enjoy The 24 Hours Of Le Mans

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You’ve just seen a video of a relatively massive NASCAR Chevy Camaro racing around a French race track with a bunch of wispy prototypes and fancy Aston Martins at something called “Le Mans.” You’re intrigued, but you wouldn’t know an LMP2 from a Pontiac Fiero and you’re pretty sure Mathieu Jaminet was the bad guy in “Ocean’s 12.” Don’t worry friend, here’s the complete newbs guide to enjoying the NASCAR storyline as well as enjoying the rest of the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Also, you’re picking the best year possible to become a fan. There are new teams, new cars, new drivers, new rules, and a lot of excitement. Congrats, you’ve perfectly timed your jump onto the old bandwagon. Last year’s race was kinda meh. This year’s race looks to be insane.

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What Is The 24 Hours Of Le Mans?

Le Mans Prototypes

Good question. It’s an endurance race with multiple classes that’s run each year in a town west of Paris named, unsurprisingly, Le Mans. It’s one of the oldest motorsports events and it was created, initially, to show that those fancy new automobiles were also robust enough to drive for 24 hours straight. The first race was in 1923, so this is the 100th anniversary race. That first race was won by a Chenard-Walcker, which isn’t a brand you hear a lot about today.

So They Race For 24 Hours?

Yup. Every team enters their car and that same car has to drive for 24 hours. The winner is the car that can drive the farthest in 24 hours, utilizing three or four drivers.

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Is This A One-Off Or Is This Part Of A Series?

Both! The 24 Hours of Le Mans is technically a part of the World Endurance Championship (WEC), alongside the Sebring 1000 and Bahrain 6 Hours and some other races. However, the appeal of the race is so great and the name so important that a bunch of other people, including the Camaro, race there. You don’t need to care at all about the WEC to enjoy the race.

Did Someone Say The Track Is Eight Miles Long?!?

Hell yeah, buddy. The track was originally made up entirely of public roads running through three different French towns, including one giganto straight. These days, the track’s a mix of full-time racing circuit and public roads, but the long straight (called Mulsanne) is still there, albeit broken up by some chicanes because cars had a nasty habit of going so fast they flipped in the air (top speeds reached around 250 mph at one point). Still, the fastest cars last year managed to go 236 mph last year.

What Kind Of Cars Are Racing There?

Ferrari 499

Another good question! Le Mans has two main categories of cars: Prototypes and GT cars. The prototypes are purpose-built race cars that don’t look very much like any. The fastest of these are Hypercars, from brands like Ferrari (above), Porsche, Toyota, Cadillac, Glickenhaus, Vanwall, and Peugeot. Technically, there are two different styles of Hypercars with one (LMH) being 100% designed and built by a team and one (LMDh) based on an existing racing platform. It doesn’t matter! They’re all super fast and driven by pro drivers this year and, in theory, are competitive with one another.

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The second set of prototypes are LMP2 cars, which are more affordable (relatively speaking) and are all basically identical. They’re not as fast as Hypercars but are faster than the GT cars. Some of these drivers are professional and some of them are amateur drivers paying for their seat.

The GTs are more traditional cars and are all based on real cars. The single GT category this year is made up of Porsche 911s, Ferrari 488 GTE Evos, Chevy Corvette C8.Rs, and Aston Martin Vantage AMRs called GTEAm. Technically this is a ProAm category so there’s a mix of pro and amateur drivers, but some teams (AF Corsa, Corvette Racing) are more pro than others. This is usually the most fun class to watch because the cars are a little slower and therefore mix it up more.

So, Uh, Is This NASCAR Cup Car Going To Win?

The Chevy Camaro ZL1 Cup Car is part of what’s called Garage 56, wherein a team is invited by Le Mans to bring something weird to the race. This year it’s a new (next gen) NASCAR stock car run by Hendricks Motorsports with Jenson Button, Jimmie Johnson, and Mike Rockenfeller behind the wheel.

It’s weird. It’s super big (look at the photo above). No one really knows what will happen but, based on qualifying times, we know it’s faster than all the other GT cars and slower than the LMP2 cars. Something strange would have to happen for a GT car to beat a prototype (it has happened exactly one time in modern endurance racing when it rained the whole race at Road Atlanta a few years ago).

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So It’s Going To Beat All The GT Cars?

Nascar Garage 56 Le Mans Camaro2

Maybe! The WEC isn’t classifying the Camaro with the other GT cars so it’s in a class by itself and, based on the reports I’m getting from contacts at Le Mans, the WEC just keeps letting the car go faster by allowing them to take some wing out of the car (to reduce drag at the straights) and who knows what else. Obviously, if the car crashes it’s not going to beat the other GT cars, but the big question is: Will the heavier, bigger Camaro use more tires and thus be forced to pit more?

My guess is it’ll be quite competitive and might outpace the rest of the GT field because, frankly, this isn’t your average Cup car, and it’s clear they’ve taken a lot of weight out of the platform, so I don’t think it’s actually that much heavier.

How Is a Camaro Beating a New Ferrari? A Corvette?

Nascar Garage 56 Le Mans Camaro

Because this is an exhibition car, to some degree, the Camaro doesn’t have to follow the same rules as the Corvette racing in GTEAm. While the Camaro is a little bigger and, maybe, a little heavier, it also has a 750 horsepower V8 built by a racing shop in North Carolina that knows what it’s doing. The other GT cars have around 500 horsepower. On a place that has a lot of long straights, that power advantage is a big deal. Also, I think everyone loves this program and is probably letting it get away with a lot.

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Who Is Going To Win The Race?

I don’t know. It’ll be a Hypercar and, coming into the race, everyone assumed it would probably be Toyota again. It’s won a bunch and has the most modern experience. However, Ferrari shocked everyone by taking both front grid spots this year (i.e. they were the fastest two cars in qualifying). Here are some open questions:

  • Will the Ferraris actually finish the race? It’s new.
  • Will Toyota just slowly and efficiently grind everyone down?
  • Is the Peugeot going to finish the race? It’s new as well.
  • Can any of the LMDh/GTP cars win? I.e. can the Cadillac or Vanwall compete?
  • Will Jim Glickenhaus wear a cool cowboy hat again? (Probably, yes)

In LMP2 it’s anyone’s race and, to some degree, it’s most likely that a quasi-pro team like Corvette Racing or AF Corse will take overall victory in GTEam, but it’s not a lock.

How Do I Watch The 24 Hours Of Le Mans?

Lm24 Centenary Poster

First, both Patrick and Huibert are going to be there, so we’ll hopefully have some interesting posts here to look forward to next week, and maybe even this weekend. For the actual race do the following:

Everyone

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  • Be awake at 10:00 AM ET/7:00 AM PT for the start of the race, tomorrow, Saturday June 10th.
  • Listen to Radio Le Mans, which is the best English-language broadcast of the race and the easiest way to understand what’s happening. The hosts and reporters do a great job of contextualizing what’s happening in real time. Even if you watch the race somewhere else, turn down the volume and tune into RLM.
  • Use this Live Timing page from the WEC to track where everyone is and how they’re doing. It’s 62 cars so it’s easy to lose track.

People In The United States

  • You can watch the race on MotorTrend TV if you have cable/subscribe.
  • You can sign up for MotorTrend+ and watch their stream. It’s just $4.99 for one month and you can watch the Pikes Peak documentary I co-directed.

People In Other Parts Of The World

  • If you live in Austria or France you can watch on ServusTV or L’Equipe TV from a free stream.
  • If you live in other parts of Europe you can watch on Eurosport or other local sports channels.

Should I Stay Up For All 24 hours?

Yes. Though I tend to fall asleep listening to RLM.

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Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
1 year ago

Well, I watched the entire race on the MT link. Fairly decent coverage with good camera views and ok display of race standings. What really sucked was all the snarky comments by the British announcers concerning American cars participating. Mocking the NASCAR entry that completed the entire race was bad enough but completly ignoring the Cadillac entries throughout the entire race was inexcuseable! They spent more time talking about Peugot and other bit players than even saying the word “Cadillac”. When the race was finished they used very selective camera shots to avoid even showing a picture of the Cadillac entries which finished 3rd and 4th. They did it without fanfare and provided a solid performance from beginning to end.

Disgusting show by our Brit cousins.

Last edited 1 year ago by Opa Carriker
Chi_spotting
Chi_spotting
1 year ago

The Camaro performed flawlessly besides a transmission rebuilt and new brakes.

I was really worried it would crash out since the race became a demolition derby with the GTE cars and some Hypercars, especially after the rain.

Great race and a joy to stream from the Camaro’s cockpit.

SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
1 year ago
Reply to  Chi_spotting

Le Mans isn’t complete without an AF Corse pay driver taking out a LMP1.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago

GO 963 GOOOOOOOOO

I’ve been sick, so maybe the combo of Sudafed and caffeine will get my through.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
1 year ago

Also, you’re picking the best year possible to become a fan. There are new teams, new cars, new drivers, new rules, and a lot of excitement.

Considering I didn’t even know what WEC was until maybe February of this year when I learned I had family moving to Sebring, and my only real exposure to Le Mans was watching Ford vs. Ferrari, I fall squarely into this fresh fan category. Add to that the fact that I’ve always been a huge fan of the Cadillac make, and this all feels simply like being at the right place at the right time. Like something’s happening that I didn’t even realize I’ve been waiting for.

Right now I’m just about ready to go and test out my fresh new Motortrend subscription. Hoping I can cast to the big screen in the living room via Chromecast without issue so I can watch the start tomorrow morning.

Also hoping I may wrangle new fan or two tomorrow evening. Across town sits my first house. I ended up renting it out instead of selling when I upgraded a number of years ago. The people that currently rent it from me have become some of my best friends. They have a son who is a bonified car-nut. In fact, that whole neighborhood is populated by quite a number of car guys.

Next to the house is the garage which my tenants do not rent. Instead it currently contains my ’88 VW Fox along with my ’94 Fleetwood and ’71 Sedan deVille. We’re going to be setting up a TV on the hood of that deVille to watch the race from about six until midnight. There will also be a grill going and a well-stocked beer fridge. I expect a fair number of the neighborhood population to be drawn to it all like moths to a flame. They’re mostly NASCAR guys, so I’m guessing the Camaro will be hit, provided it’s still out on the track at that point.

Time to make sure that app and my casting setup work alright. Looking highly forward to it all and highly forward to The Autopian’s coverage!

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
1 year ago

The spirit of Le Monstre. I’m rooting for you, Baby.

Matt Huber
Matt Huber
1 year ago

It’s not “a Nascar”, it’s a “stock car”.

I expect better over here, that’s J-league crap.

JerryLH3
JerryLH3
1 year ago

If you have cable and are going to watch on Motor Trend, if it’s the Eurosport feed, immediately just pay the $4.99 for a month of Motor Trend + so that you can watch the world feed. I’ve been enjoying the world feed coverage all week long to watch practice, qualifying and hyperpole. Fantastic coverage by professionals. The Eurosport feed a couple of years ago simulcast on Motor Trend may have been the worst broadcast of an endurance race I ever endured (haha, pun) and I made sure I never had to watch it again.

Iain Delaney
Iain Delaney
1 year ago
Reply to  JerryLH3

This also works in Canada, kind of. You can subscribe to Motor Trend + and watch the stream on your browser or the app. Looks great on my Apple TV. It’s also available on cable on Velocity channel, if you’re subscribed to that.

Mpphoto
Mpphoto
1 year ago
Reply to  JerryLH3

I’m streaming through Motor Trend’s website using my cable subscription and I am not impressed by the announcing. Not sure if it’s the Eurosport feed. Anthony Davidson is good, but the others aren’t. Too much yukking it up. Kept talking about how amazing the race has been when there have been extremely lengthy safety car periods. No explanation of stuff. They assume everyone is either a sports car insider or has been watching for 20 years. Did a lengthy fluff interview instead of explaining why the disabled #7 Toyota was dangerous and how the recovery team would handle the electrical issue. I know it can be annoying for long-time fans when a broadcast is dumbed down for newbies, but this has to happen for high-profile races where regulars aren’t watching. I’m an IndyCar and F1 guy, so my knowledge of endurance racing is more shallow. I would’ve appreciated better commentary.

Lotsofchops
Lotsofchops
1 year ago
Reply to  Mpphoto

If you don’t mind only watching live, I’ve been listening to Radio Le Mans with the MotorTrend stream muted. They get the same video feed, so they won’t be talking about something you can’t see afaik. http://player.radioshow.limited/audioplayer.html

Last edited 1 year ago by Lotsofchops
Goof
Goof
1 year ago

Best Garage 56 since the Deltawing.

Shame the Deltawing was somewhat snubbed at the time. At least this time around people are excited to have something wildly different.

RIP to all the spectators trying to sleep trackside this year. The Garage 56 Camaro and the Cadillacs will make it nearly impossible.

Vintage Veloce
Vintage Veloce
1 year ago

Why does this article neglect to mention the start date and time? Ok, the date is in a picture above, June 11, at 4PM at Le Mans, France.
A bunch of googling and… The race Start is on Saturday June 10 at:
7am Los Angeles time
10am New York Time.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
1 year ago

Ferrari won the 24hrs of the ring a few weeks ago, not that all the competition was there but… Also they set the record for most laps/distance. Love 24hrs racing, sad its on MT, hate setting up accts just to watch things no longer on reg TV, 24hrs of the ring was live streamed on YT.

James Andrews
James Andrews
1 year ago

This is Le Mans’ most foolish program. Why does the Camaro, the largest car, not simply eat the other cars?

Waremon0
Waremon0
1 year ago
Reply to  James Andrews

COTD

AssMatt
AssMatt
1 year ago
Reply to  Waremon0

DT will never allow it; if he thinks Quantum Leap has a niche audience, there’s no way THIS silliness will fly!

10001010
10001010
1 year ago

I’d like to watch it but I have misgivings about MTOD ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Goof
Goof
1 year ago
Reply to  10001010

There’s also the FIA WEC 24h of Le Mans app, but you have to buy the entire season and not just the race, which is 4.6 times the price of MTOD.

I bought MTOD and canceled the sub immediately so it won’t renew.

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