Fixin’ To Go

May 6, 2012

Fixin’ To Go

May 6, 2012

To Eric Ingraham of the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche team and to Don Male, his counterpart at Corvette Racing, the checkered flag at the American Le Mans Series Monterey marks a beginning-the beginning of a race to the next race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Preparing the two-car teams for the trip to Le Mans involves NASA-level details in readying the cars, spares, logistics and team members for the June 3 official test day and the June 16-17 race at the Circuit de la Sarthe, 130 miles southwest of Paris, France.

This will be the eighth Le Mans race appearance for the Sonoma-based Flying Lizards Motorsports team, but according to Ingraham, “We are still learning every year at Le Mans. It is like running three or four ALMS races combined.”

“The challenge is not the big things, it is all the little things,” said Ingraham. “If we are missing a bolt, you cannot run down to the local hardware store and get it. Is there a hardware store? Where is it? How do we get there? Do they have it? All the simple things at Le Mans are not straightforward and thus make it challenging.”

The Lizards take their regular Sebring or Petit Le Mans race crews to Le Mans, but the team adds one very important member: a liaison representative to help with the language, rules and traditions of Le Mans. “At Le Mans, every practice session is treated like the race,” said Ingraham. “All of the rules, like the number of people over the wall, are in force.”

Even with the best-laid plans, travel is not without adventures. “One year we discovered the night before the race that our hotel had a motorcycle stunt show and fireworks. We sure didn’t get much rest before the race,” said Ingraham.

While the Flying Lizards fly their Porsches aboard commercial airliners, Don Male, the transportation ramrod at Pratt & Miller for the Corvette Racing team, takes a two–pronged approach.

Corvette Racing has made the trip to Le Mans each year since 2000, and in 2012 will defend their GT-class championship. They booked space on a freighter to Liverpool, England, last month and shipped a race transporter loaded with essential supplies, consumables, fueling equipment and chemicals not permitted aboard aircraft. “We have checklists for everything and then we check the lists twice,” said Male.

After the race here in Monterey, the Corvette transporters will head to the team shops in New Hudson, Michigan, where the cars and 46 crates of equipment, spare parts, tools and spare bodywork are prepped for flight to Portsmouth, England. Once there, they will meet up with the transporter and be ferried to Caen, France, and trucked on to Le Mans.

After a 30-plus hour race day at Le Mans, the Flying Lizard and Corvette teams face the challenges of getting all of their equipment, race cars and staff packed up and back to the U.S. in time for set up and practice at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut, on July 4-7.  The challenge for the Flying Lizards is especially tight-they will have only four days in their Sonoma shop to turn around the cars before loading them up and heading back across country for Lime Rock.  When Le Mans ends, the race to the next race begins and the cycle continues.

Flying Lizard Motorsports Prep and Travel for 24 Hours of Le Mans

May 12 – ALMS race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

May 14-22 – Prep race cars and load containers

May 22-24 – Cars and containers transported to Virgin Atlantic

May 24-25 – Commercial flight to London

May 26-28 – Customs in London

May 29 – Containers trucked down to Le Mans

May 29-30 – Team travels to Le Mans

May 30-31 – Team unloads containers at Le Mans

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