Saturday, June 13, 2009
THE DAY BEFORE THE RACE
Friday, June 12, 10:21am, Le Mans, France
Yesterday was the the day for qualifying. And we did. Joe, Patrick & Don have passed their first hurdle and are now, as they say, ready to race. Today is ostensibly a rest day for the drivers. The last two nights they have not seen bed before 2 am and must be rested in body and mind for tomorrow’s 3 o'clock start. And we are in good hands. Our Team Director, Michael Due, a 30 year veteran of endurance racing has bought with him one of the best GT2 teams in Europe, AF Corse of Modena, Italy. Any stereotypes of disorganized, dysfunctional screaming Italians is, with this team, utterly misplaced. They are professionals of the highest caliber, and awesome to watch. They are, like the car they have prepared, an exquisite machine. There is no drama in the garage of the 81, car. Period.
As I write in our red and white Ferrari tent, the team is meeting , discussing last nights driving data and the beginnings of a plan for tomorrow. And then there is the media... Patrick, a genuinely affable fellow, attracts an unbelievable amount of attention and in so doing requires a full time PR man. Fortunately he has one of the best in the business according to those here who are familiar with his work. Adam Saal has been doing this for over 20 years. TV appearances back to back. Cameras, interviews, more interviews and at the end of the day, the parade through downtown Le Mans in vintage sports cars of past glory. What would for most drivers be a routine affair, is with Patrick’s celebrity, transformed into a strategically choreographed plan built around his very possibly threatened safety.
As we wait for the car to take our drivers to the parade, the TV cameras stream into the tent. It’s like a river, never ending, always in motion and yet always the same. Incessant, and yet he remains calm. Now for bed, as tomorrow is race day and I have no idea what to expect other than that I will, before it's over, be very very tired.