Le Mans: A pre-show like no other

June 9, 2014

Le Mans: A pre-show like no other

June 9, 2014


In the movie Father of the Bride, Steve Martin’s character notes the significant differences between “getting married” and “a wedding.”  To his character, “getting married” is simple. The bride buys a dress. The groom wears a tie. They say “I do.”

A “wedding” on the other hand is a soaring production with caterers, a grand tent, hundreds of guests, music, endless details necessary for a “ wedding of this magnitude” and, to his dismay, the hiring of a wedding coordinator.

It is not unlike the difference between a typical “Technical inspection” and “Scrutineering” at Le Mans.

At other races, engineers and crew roll their race cars through the paddock for an appearance at the technical garage or canopy. The officials measure and inspect the defined package and the car returns to its garage or paddock space.

As befitting the world’s premier sports car endurance race, Le Mans does things on a much grander scale. Rather than a remote corner of the paddock or a garage, scrutineering takes place in the city center.

The entered cars appear at the transporter doors at their appointed times. As they roll onto their hydraulic gates, knowledgeable fans crane to see the latest Audi, Toyota and Porsche prototypes, or the new Corvette. They are anxious to be the first to see the latest designs, livery and technical features.

Bicycle fence barricades define the route for the crew as they push the car to its appointed stations for inspection and finally to the photo setting. There the entire team, including drivers, is positioned with the cars for the official photo, shot two or even three days before the cars will  take to the race circuit for the first practice on Wednesday evening.

Tradition and anticipation share the air as, with all great events, the sense of place conveys a sense of the history and the excitement of the challenges that await.

Once at the circuit, more traditional inspections follow, but Scrutineering at Le Mans is a wedding feast for teams and fans alike.

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