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Photographer's Note

This photo is part of my theme: The 24, dedicated to the 24 hours of Le Mans. In this series I want to show my love for this event by means of photos and notes. This is part IV: The Night.

The night is what makes the 24h special. Every Le Mans night has at least one magic moment. A little anekdote...

The Corner
A few years ago I found a nice spot on the north side of the circuit (see the link at the bottom for the exact location). This is the last corner before they hit the long fast straight. Here you can get close to the cars and you see very little people around because you have to go thru the bushes to get there.

The cars approach you, but you cannot clearly see them because the 2000+ watts of headlight power blinds you! This is an incredible experience: you hear them coming, than you're totally blinded for a few moments, your ears burst because of the loud downshifting and the next moment you just see two little red taillights with the engines screaming into the darkness. 4th...... 5th............ 6th...gear and then the next car comes.

Racing For Holland
My team is Racing For Holland of Jan Lammers. Their machine is a Dome Judd with checkered flag striping. Driving for the team that year was Tom Coronel. So it was very late at night/ very early in the morning and I was timing the teams performance with my stopwatch. Almost no people around and I was also very tired and about to leave for a nap. Radio Le Mans in my ear: Coronel was ready for his stint! The nap could wait...

Tom Coronel
Watching that corner, you could see the cars and pilots doing clean safe lines onto the straight. Le Mans is about a combination of reliablity and speed. Speed doesn't mean anything if you don't bring home the bacon. Coronel came by, orange accents on his helmet. I punched my balded fist in the air, GOOOOOOO TOM! (yeh like he has time to watch an idiot on the side of the circuit just before hitting the straight). He came by two more laps with clean lines.

Then the fourth time... approach and shift back... BOP-POPPPP.. BOP-POPPPP... braking hard and 2nd gear. Touching the outside curb, back on the throttle, going-in; hitting the inside curb, correction left; more throttle; right, the back of the car went out; oversteer, correction, hitting the outside curb HARD! Rear left tire in the gravel; almost going off but finally onto the straight! Gravel went up in the air and Tom and his Judd went into the darkness while the gravel slowly returned to the ground.

Being There
The adrenaline rush made me jump up, it pumped up my heart-rate and I went:"WHOOOOAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!" I looked at the people still around and they had the same look in their eyes: 'did you see that?'.

You didn't have to say anything, that look was enough: you were there, they were there, Tom was there; all at *that* moment with synchronised heart beats and vibes.

That is what Le Mans is about... that is what life is about... being there with the right people at the right time with the right emotions.

FlashEarth: 47.961991 0.221291

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Additional Photos by Gilbert Sopakuwa (startacked) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 422 W: 146 N: 344] (1331)
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