Rennsport Reunion 5; selected images suitable for sharing

After an extensive time away from my blog, it’s finally time to get back to the task at hand. And that dear readers means digitaldtour is back, and will once again be sharing Porsche centric, photographic content from near and afar.

To kick things off, I’m going to start with one of my favorite images captured from this past September’s Porsche Rennsport Reunion 5. For those unable to attend, the car below is a 1949 Porsche Gmund SL Coupe, which holds historical significance as one of Porsches earliest class winners at the Le Mans 24 hour race, dating back to 1951.

DSC_0045 _crop

This car was lovingly ressurected just prior to Rennsport Reunion 5 by Southern California’s own Porsche guru Rod Emory, who’s metal fabrication skills made it possible for Porsche to showcase this car alongside two of their other Legendary Le Mans 24 overall winners seen below; the red & white scalloped Porsche Salzburg 917 from 1970, and this years outright Le Mans 24 hour winner, the 2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid.

DSC_0038

So this concludes my first post in a very long time. I hope you will return to see what lies ahead…

All photos by the author

Advertisements

My most difficult post to complete to date…The fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Part 2; my photographic record and impressions of the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans

After an overly long delay, here goes; “better late than never.”..The fulfillment of a lifelong dream, Part 2.

So having left Porsche’s soon to be completed “Spirit of Le Mans exhibit, I figured it was time to scout out a location for watching the start of the race, and one where I could have a good vantage point from which to begin my photographic explorations. Fortunately, I remembered seeing an open spectator area right behind one of the food and beer concessions, complete with tables and chairs, and based upon the information from my track map, I decided this very area facing the Dunlop curve and Dunlop chicane would be ideal, and give me good afternoon lighting. (Little did I know the side benefit that this location would provide, but more on that later).

For those that follow my Instagram feed, you may have seen a post I made leading up to our departure for France. The Porsche magazine Christophorus, had arrived in the mail, and issue # 366 just happened to be dedicated to Le Mans.

IMG_2206

Inside, I discovered an article written about one of the newest racing drivers to join the Porsche factory team, Brendon Hartley, and his unique talents as a top simulator / virtual test driver. Brendon would be co-driving Porsches new LMP-1, 919 hybrid (car #20) with team mates Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard. Within the article was a sidebar that included a track map with key sections highlighted, and linked to a description penned by Brendon Hartley, focused on the making of an ideal  lap. Seven different track sections were described, and each accompanied by his personal approach to driving the 919 at optimum speed. It was an amazing article, and his insight into racing at Le Mans made for a great read, not to mention providing me with a list of locations to explore and observe during the race.

IMG_2715

Now back to my trackside adventures…

Since it was now 2 PM, I had just one hour to select my trackside viewing spot, and prepare for the 3 PM start of the race. Given the height of the trackside safety catch fencing, I needed a location with some elevation in order to minimize the fencing’s visual impact. Luckily, there were still some chairs and space available on the elevated concrete patio behind one of the concession stands, so I grabbed an empty chair close to the edge of the patio, and set up my camera gear. This location gave me a solid panoramic view (to my left) of the Dunlop curves…

DSC_0096

and to my right, the Dunlop chicane and bridge.

DSC_0099

With the clock ticking and less than 1/2 hour to race time, one of the pre race activities included an aerial show. After a brief PA announcement, the event’s focus shifted skyward, just in time to catch a trio of skydivers beginning their descent.Their ultimate landing / target turned out to be the start / finish line.

DSC_0126

DSC_0129

With all eye’s turned skyward…

DSC_0131

DSC_0134

With the last of the skydiving trio successfully back on the tarmac, the final countdown to the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours race began. After another brief announcement over the PA, there arose a collective cheer that could be heard coming from the grandstands situated along pit row, and suddenly race cars appeared on the track. Leading the pack was the brilliant red Audi RS6 Avant (as seen below), representing one of the multiple Safety and Race Control Cars provided by Audi, which would pace the pack for their warm up laps. These red Audis RS6s would reappear multiple times over the next 24 hours, anytime race conditions warranted the need for a safety car on track (in the event of an accident on the circuit, or weather issues). After picking up the race leader, the Audi RS6 Avant would control the pace of the field, until race control determined all current concerns had been resolved, and it was safe for the competition to resume.

DSC_0093

Following a short distance behind the Audi, was the crowds first glimpse of the competitors we had all come to see, beginning their initial warm up laps.

The first of the new Porsche GT3 RSR’s below; leading the pack was the Porsche Team Manthey (i.e. Factory team car) 911 RSR #91, competing in the GTE / Pro class…

DSC_0107

and for 2014 from the Proton Competition / Dempsey Racing team, their new for 2014 Porsche 911 RSR #77, competing in the GTE  / AM class.

DSC_0108

Below, one of the first LMP1 cars to appear; Toyota’s TS040 Hybrid, part of the two car team as campaigned by Toyota Racing.

DSC_0111 - Version 2

Another of the Porsche 911 GT3RSR’s, a joint effort between the Belgian Prospeed Competition group and the American firm Weathertech.

DSC_0110 - Version 2

Following behind Weathertech’s Porsche 911GT3 RSR, was one of the first LMP2 class race cars to appear. This particular car (#42) was entered by Caterham Racing, but managed by Greaves Motorsport. Ironically, the drivers line up for this car consisted of two american drivers  (Chris Dyson and Matt McMurry), with the third (Tom Kimber-Smith) representing Great Britain.

DSC_0114

Representing the United States, was this duo of Corvette C7Rs, fielded by the Pratt & Miller team.

DSC_0141

Following close behind was Nissan’s ZE0D RC (a solo entrant), entered by Nissan Motorsports Global.

DSC_0124 - Version 2

Another team representing Great Britain was Aston Martin Racing, competing with a pair of V8 Vantage coupes.

DSC_0215

And finally the LMP1 class team cars from Porsche rolled into view; first up was the #14, 919 Hybrid…

DSC_0112 - Version 2 followed close behind by its teammate, the #20 919 Hybrid.

DSC_0113 - Version 2

For the Tifosi assembled, the 2014 Le Mans 24 contained a total of fourteen Ferrari 458 Italia models, competing in both the GTE PRO and GTE AM classes. Below, is one of the 458 Italia’s, competing in the GTE / AM class, for the AF Corse team.

DSC_0182 And finally, one of the three Audi R18E-tron LMP1 race cars, entered by Audi Sport Team Joest.

DSC_0176

As the cars filtered past, suddenly there was an eerie silence as the last car in the race car conga line disappeared under the Dunlop bridge.

DSC_0094

Then from the direction of the start/finish line, a roar went up from the grandstands, just as the clock struck 3:00pm, signaling the start of the race. Continuing this crush of sound were the first cars to come into view; an  R18 Audi e-tron followed closely by a Toyota TS040 hybrid and Porsche 919 hybrid…

DSC_0179 - Version 2

DSC_0196

DSC_0237 - Version 2

Following closely behind these lead LMP1 cars was an assortment of GTE PRO, GTE AM and LMP2 class cars.

DSC_0160

DSC_0253 - Version 2

DSC_0246

My first hour and a half of the race was spent exploring the Dunlop curve and Chicane area of the track. And by 4:30pm, the Dunlop curve location proved to be a good choice, especially when the gray clouds that had been gathering over the track, decided to rain on this automotive parade. As the skies open up, I was able to take cover beneath the projecting roofline of a cantina located on the infield side at the Dunlop curve. Here I could  stay dry and continue to shoot the race from under cover for the next half hour as the storm passed. Fortunately, this was the only rain that would fall on the event.

DSC_0291

DSC_0257

So with the skies now clearing, I decided to make my way south towards the start / finish straight, with a stop along the way to watch the cars returning to the track at the pit out / exit. This also afforded me a unique perspective to view the cars close up and at speed, as they accelerated on their way towards the Dunlop curve.

DSC_0327 - Version 2

DSC_0356

DSC_0367 - Version 2

DSC_0343 - Version 2

DSC_0377 - Version 2

DSC_0349

DSC_0378 - Version 2

With the sun now beginning to cast longer shadows, I decided to do some more track exploring and wanted to check out the view at the Dunlop bridge. For the spectators with reserved seating in these grandstands, this area provided an ideal vantage for watching the cars race through the Dunlop curve and Dunlop chicane, and set up for passing beneath the iconic Dunlop Bridge, and then continue towards the “Esses” section on the opposite side. This location also made for some interesting photographic captures …

DSC_0384

DSC_0386

DSC_0387

As the sun continued its arc across the sky, and the light levels began to drop, I figured it was a good time to refuel and grab some food. So heading back into the village, I found a small cantina offering up a variety of sandwiches. The jambon y fromage baguette (ham and cheese) had been a good choice at lunch, so another two were consumed for dinner, washed down with a large Coca Cola to caffeine load for the long night ahead. (I had decided that since this was my first trip to Le Mans, I did not want to miss a minute of the race, and was determined to stay awake for the entire 24 hours).

So after my quick dinner, it was time to continue my exploration of the track, which was beginning to fall under a cloak of darkness. Since I was still in the proximity of the Dunlop chicane, I decided to check out the area between the Dunlop bridge and the Tertre Rouge bend. On the way, I stopped to watch the cars flying through the Esses, and capture some of the action ( these images were taken at around 10:30 pm).

DSC_0403

DSC_0391

DSC_0402

By midnight, the darkness closed in and the perspectives shifted again…

DSC_0412

DSC_0409

Exiting the Tertre Rouge bend,  the cars transition onto the longest straight located on the track; the world-famous Mulsanne straight. So I hiked out to this area of the track in the dark, and discovered an illuminated pedestrian corridor running beneath the race track, which allowed access to the viewing area located to the outside of the track. This proved to be a great location for observing the stunning performance capabilities possessed by the LMP1 class vehicles (in particular, the Audi R-18s, Porsche 919 hybrids, and the Toyota TS040s). It was equally amazing to watch the GTE PRO and AM class cars follow the same trajectories, but at a slightly reduced top speed, and with a uniquely distinct exhaust notes.  It was surreal to watch how fast these cars could track through the turn, only to disappear into the darkness down the Mulsanne straight. As the cars disappeared from view, you could still hear them accelerating and hitting their shift points, as they raced  down the Mulsanne.

With the hours passing, and in an effort to stay warm, I decided to do some more exploring of the track, so I went in search of a classic visual icon; the neon illuminated ferris wheel, located by the Maison Blanche section of the racetrack.

DSC_0424

With it now close to 3 AM ( the halfway point of the race), I felt it appropriate to check out Porsche’s infield Hospitality center.

DSC_0426

Access into the facility turned out to be by invitation only, which contained a cantina, boutique and product showroom, and a floor to ceiling video display wall, located on the back wall of the vehicle showroom, and broadcasting live coverage of the race.

As I stood on the outside looking in, I was surprised at how many people were still inside given the hour (shopping at the boutique and watching the video display). The showroom also housed an example of  Porsche’s new for 2014, 919 hybrid race car, as well as a copy of the latest 911RSR iteration, identical to the two team cars being raced in the GTE PRO class.

IMG_2400

IMG_2417

With the temperatures still cooling, it was time for me to once again refuel with something warm, and fortunately I found a cantina in the Village still open, serving up coffee and hot chocolate. Time to take a break, put me feet up and take my backpack full of camera gear off for a while, and warm up with two hot chocolates, and watch the race coverage streaming on one of the large video displays located within the village.

DSC_0436

DSC_0438

A total of 6 jumbotron video displays were situated around the track, and were a great tool to have for staying current on the action taking place on and around the track. In addition to the imagery, race standings were posted over the duration of the 24 hours.

Warmed up, refueled and still awake at 4:30 AM, I decided to return to the Esses and Tertre Rouge area of the track, to watch the sun rise over the track, and watch the early morning light illuminate the race cars  circulating around the track. Once again, the elevated berm in this area served as an ideal platform for viewing the racing action in these two zones.

A series of shots captured at the Esses, with the aid of the early morning light.

DSC_0445

DSC_0450

DSC_0451

DSC_0453

DSC_0439

With the sun on the rise, I made way down to the Tertre Rouge bend, and staked out a spot at the top of the berm, as a good vantage point from which to photograph the remainder of the race, and slotted in amongst the crowd that had begun to assemble.

Below are a random assortment of shots I captured over the course of the morning, and wrapping up at the conclusion of the race at 3 PM.

DSC_0620

DSC_0608

DSC_0622

DSC_0615

An instance where the safety car (above) was dispatched to pace the field…

DSC_0627

DSC_0660 - Version 2

DSC_0642 - Version 2

DSC_0675

DSC_0685

DSC_0693 - Version 2

DSC_0731 - Version 2

DSC_0733

DSC_0742 - Version 2

DSC_0812

(Below), the crowd that grew around me Sunday morning, on the berm at the Tertre Rouge bend…

DSC_0053_2

DSC_0037_2 - Version 2

At 2 PM, suddenly the race took a negative turn for both of Porsche’s 919 hybrids (#14 and #20), which for the previous 23 hours had collectively given both Audi and Toyota a run for their money. But now, both cars were in the garage, with the #20 car retired with motor issues, and the #14 car sidelined by gearbox and drive train issues. For the remaining hour, the two Audi’s and the sole remaining Toyota continued lapping the track, chasing the clock to 3 PM. However, unknown by their competitors, Porsche had been working on the #14 race car, in an effort to return it to the track. And with only 10 minutes remaining,the 919 returned to the track, unfortunately circulating at a less than competitive pace.

The two Audi’s R-18 e -trons and the sole remaining Toyota TS040 soldiered on, and at 3:00 PM, Audi took the checkered flag, and once again finished in 1st and 2nd place, with the Toyota TS040 placing third.

DSC_0197_2

DSC_0200_2

DSC_0128_2

DSC_0213_2

And to everyone’s surprise, the #14 Porsche 919 hybrid had returned to the track, taking its final lap and crossing the finish line.

DSC_0192_2

At the completion of the 2014 race, Porsche announced their intentions to return in 2015. And it appears that they were true to their word.

As of this posting, the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans concluded today;  Porsches three car 919 hybrid team (#17, #18, #19)  not only qualified on the pole, but also captured second and third place on the starting grid. As for the race, at the end of the 24 hours, Porsche scored a win, taking first and second place overall, with car #19 f and car # 17 respectively. Porsches third 919 hybrid (car # 18), finished in 5th place, behind the two Audi R-18s, which captured third and fourth place.

Porsche fans world wide will be celebrating this years Le Mans 24 one -two victory, as well as the manufacturers overall Le Mans 24 victory tally being increased by one to a total of 17.

And with Porsches upcoming Rennsport Reunion V , with a “Legends of Le Mans” theme, September in Monterey promises to be a continuation of the celebration of this milestone victory.

(All photos by the author)

The fulfillment of a lifelong dream; attending the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, and my pre and post race journey…

For anyone familiar with the Porsche brand, the name Le Mans has always been closely linked to their impressive racing history. After developing a passion for Porsches as I entered my teenage years, I began studying and researching these significant Porsche race cars and those victories achieved at this mysterious French race track. At that moment, the hook was set and attending the 24 Hours of Le Mans  race became a lifelong aspiration.

I did come close to fulfilling this very dream of attending Le Mans twice; once in 2001 and the second time in 2002, while living and working in France. However, each year due to schedule conflicts, I was unable to attend. So imagine my surprise when Porsche announced their return to Le Mans for 2014, after a 16 year hiatus with the following statement – “Mission 2014. Our Return”. And return they would, with a pair of brand new race cars; the Porsche 919 hybrid. Not to mention Porsche bringing a pair of new 911 RSR’s, competing in the GTE / Pro class. So after a discussion with my wife about planning our vacation for 2014, she quickly agreed on a trip to France, which we would schedule around my attendance at this years Le Mans 24. My wife’s sole travel request consisted of being able to travel through France’s Loire Valley, and occasionally stay at a Chateau. Ironically, Le Mans is roughly located towards the center of the Loire. So working with this years race date of June 14-15, 2014, my wife went to work on searching out and booking us at several Chateaus and hotels scattered throughout the Loire Valley. We quickly learned however, that trying to book a hotel in or near Le Mans for 2014 was downright impossible. As a back-up plan, we found several chateaus in the village of Amboise, located about 1 -1/2 hours south of Le Mans, each with available rooms. Since I would be attending the race by myself (my wife is not a race fan), she would be staying behind at Chateau #2 (which worked out perfectly), since it was located within walking distance to the town, and good for sightseeing, shopping and dining.

So with the rest of our travel plans now finalized, it was time for me to begin researching how to attend ones first 24 Hours of Le Mans race. After a google search, I found the official 24 Hours of Le Mans / ACO website.  As a spectator, I learned I would need a basic admission ticket and a parking pass to gain admission into the track. Since my plan was to walk around the track and photograph the race from multiple locations, general admission would be perfect. There was also the option to book a grandstand seat at a variety of locations situated around the track, at an additional cost; the more desirable locations carrying the highest prices. Because of my desire to be mobile, I passed on the grandstand seating. Parking options also varied, and recommendations as presented were based upon ones direction of travel. After a quick review of my trusty Michelin road map, I selected one of the several available in-field parking areas (green / Vert), figuring that having easy access to my car in the event of bad weather or fatigue would be a good idea. With my decisions made, it became a simple process to order my tickets online, and for a minor fee, have them delivered via UPS to my home in the States. About three weeks after placing my order, my packet was delivered, and I now held my general admission ticket and parking pass for the green ( Vert) lot, section M-1…

2014 24 Hours of Le Mans ticket and parking pass_June 2014

So on June 6, my wife and I boarded our Lufthansa flight to Munich Germany, with a short connecting flight that would deliver us to our final destination, the Charles De Gaulle airport in France.

Below, sunset over the polar route, on our way to Munich, Germany.

Lufthansa flight_sunset shot ,polar route_June 6, 2014

We arrived in Munich on schedule, and after a brief lay over, were on our way to the Charles De Gaulle airport, located about 45 minutes to the east of Paris. After collecting our luggage, we picked up our rental car from the company Sixt. ( should anyone be planning a trip to France, I would highly recommend this rental car company). Even though we came prepared with our Michelin maps for navigating France, our car came equipped with navigation, which proved to be invaluable during our trip. After programming in our first destination, and adjusting the language section to english, we were off to the Marne La Valle area, where we would be staying at a friend’s home.

For our first couple of days we traveled into Paris, revisiting some of our favorite districts and landmarks. We had lunch at one of the many sidewalk bistros in the 5th district; the photo below was shot through the bistro’s open window.

Rue Saint Severin street sign_Paris_ June 9, 2014

After lunch, we walked back across the Seine, and made our way over to the second most recognizable landmark within Paris: Notre Dame.

Notre Dame_Front view_Paris_June 9, 2014

Notre Dame_Side view_Paris_June 9, 2014

Notre Dame_Rear view_Paris_June 9, 2014Within 10 minutes of taking the photos above (the less seen side and back views of Notre Dame), the gray clouds intensified, and rain began falling. This quickly sent everyone running for cover or for those prepared, reaching for their umbrellas. Nothing new for Paris in early June…

By the time Thursday rolled around, it was time for us to load up the car and head out towards Paris, then detour south towards the village of Amboise. Imagine our surprise at encountering the vehicles seen below, also heading south. Any thoughts as to their destination?

VW Vanagon outside Paris with Porsche 2014 graphics_Side view_June 12, 2014

VW Vanagon outside Paris with Porsche 2014 graphics_Rear view_June 12, 2014

After giving them a thumbs-up as we passed, we continued south towards our final destination. Our next stop however would require a slight detour, to another of France’s architecturally significant Cathedrals; Chartres. Since my wife had never visited Chartres, we decided to stop for a quick tour (this would mark my third visit).

Chartres cathedral, France_front view_June 12, 2014

Chartres cathedral, France_partially restored interior_altar view_June 12, 2014

Chartres cathedral, France_Restored leaded glass window_June 12, 2014

Our brief stop was well worth the time spent; Chartres immediately became one of my wife’s new favorite Cathedrals in France. And as the photos illustrate, the interior of the cathedral was undergoing a full restoration, with a high percentage of the walls, ceilings and stained glass windows having recently been restored, with the remaining areas still awaiting their turn. (Definitely a brighter appearing interior, and beautiful, vibrant leaded glass windows, noticeably improved over my last visit 12 years ago).

Once back on the road we continued south, and several hours later finally arrived at our destination in Amboise, despite one major road closure that sent us on a one hour detour. Amboise would become our new home base through the weekend, and for the next two days, residence at the 750 year old Chateau de Pray (below).

Chateau de Pray, Amboise France_Rear view_ June 12, 2014

On Friday morning, we ventured out to visit the nearby 16th century Renaissance palace, Chateau de Chenonceau (as seen below).

Chateau de Chenonceau_ tree lined entry_Amboise France_June 13, 2014

Chateau de Chenonceau_ view from the garden_Amboise France_June 13, 2014

Chateau de Chenonceau is reported to be the most visited Chateau in all of France, and given its sheer size, spectacular location, architectural and interior details as well as its history, it was easy to understand the attraction.

When the sun rose the following morning, it was now Saturday June 14, and time for me to make my long-awaited trek to Le Mans. After getting my wife checked into our next Chateau for the weekend, it was time to head off to the race that had been a lifelong dream. After programming the Le Mans race track into the cars navigation, I was literally off to the race. After driving for roughly 1-1/2 hours through the Loire Valley countryside, I was finally near my destination as seen below…

Highway to Le Mans_Le Mans race track roundabout_June 14, 2014

After navigating several more roundabouts, I spotted the roadway signage indicating the entrances to the different race track parking areas. Fortunately, my green (Vert) parking area was one of the first signs I encountered, and after following the signs, I found myself in one very long line…

Highway to Le Mans_Le Mans race track parking, Vert_June 14, 2014

One hour later, I was now parked in section M-1, and began collecting my camera gear in anticipation of the fulfillment of a lifelong dream; experiencing and creating a photographic record of my around the clock adventure at the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans.

So with all of my gear stowed in my backpack, it was time for “Step One”; Finding the entrance into the race track. Fortunately, the entry structure was visible from the parking lot, and just a short hike from my car. As I approached, It quickly became obvious as to its function; the entry side was to the left, and the exit was to the right.

Entry portal into the Le Mans race track_from the Vert parking lot_June 14, 2014

The entry procedure turned out to be very streamlined and efficient; multiple staff members were stationed at each portal with a hand-held scanner, giving them the ability to keep the flow of fans moving quickly. Throughout the 24 hours, whether entering, exiting or re-entering, your admission pass was scanned, to insure validity, and eliminated the need to rubber stamp people’s hands. I personally tested this process out several times over the 24 hours, and can attest to its efficiency.

So now that I was inside the track, and after climbing several sets of steep stairs, I was face to face with a landmark I had first seen on the “Wide World of Sports” television show back in the late 1960’s; the iconic Dunlop bridge that spans the Le Mans race track, so this became my very first exploration…

Dunlop Bridge from grandstand side_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

It also became apparent that the European race fans take their motor racing very seriously, as witnessed by the crowds already present, and the ever-increasing number of fans that continued to fill the track, as well as the grandstands adjacent to the bridge.

Dunlop Bridge grandstands _Le Mans24_June 14, 2014
Dunlop grandstand_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Having completed my hike around the outside areas of the track near the Dunlop bridge, it was time to return to the infield area and begin exploring the infield area known as the “Village”.

La Chapelle location_infield directiory sign_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Walking past the silver paneled Audi boutique, I could see through the gathering crowd, what appeared to be one of Audi’s new R-18 e-tron race cars on display. Time to stop and get a close up look at their latest creation…

Audi Boutique at La Chapelle_2014 Audi R-18 e-tron on display_3/4 side view_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Audi Boutique at La Chapelle_2014 Audi R-18 e-tron on display_front view_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

After leaving the Audi boutique, it was time to explore more of the venues present within the Village. Walking along the pathway, I came across the Top Gear simulator, which every few minutes would swallow up a new batch of guests in their motion base simulator. The audio volume within the simulator had been cranked up so high, that standing outside, you could still hear the internal audio track.

Top Gear motion base simulator_infield village_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Next up were several more automotive manufacturer boutiques; first up was Aston Martin Racing…

Aston Martin Racing boutique_village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014and right next door was Lotus.

Lotus boutique_village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Continuing further into the village, I began hearing what sounded like live music, and rounding a corner, was almost run over by this roving brass band as seen below…

Brass band_village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

After escaping from the band, I made my way over to the Michelin display, which described the development of race tire technology (as used on Porsche’s new 919 Hybrid), and the transfer of these technologies and applications to their street tires.And to demonstrate their street car applications, they just happened to have on display one very silver, 2014 Porsches GT3 shod with Michelin tires.

Michelin tire display_ Porsche 919 hybrid_village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Michelin tire display_ silver 2014 Porsche GT3_village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Located a short distance from the Michelin display was the Spark boutique, dedicated to the fans who like their cars on a smaller scale.

Spark scale model boutique_village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Another of the very crowded boutiques, but with a predominately male shopper. As the photo below illustrates, Spark produces some of the nicest scale, display models of any company. The large-scale, Audi R-18 e-tron on display was amazing, as was the asking price; 3000 euro, which in dollars worked out to roughly $4080.00 !!

Spark sclae model boutique_ audi R-18 model for sale, 3000euros _village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Located right next to the Spark boutique, was GM’s display and boutique, which displayed a single, 2014 charcoal gray Chevrolet Corvette C7.

Corvette display & boutique_charcoal gray 2014 C7 corvette_village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Another of the impressive sights found within the Village, and close to the Paddock; the massive, polished metal Audi monolith, positioned in the middle of the plaza.

Audi Monolith_village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

The reflective surfaces also made for a great photo opportunity, as witnessed below…

Audi Monolith_spectator photo op, reflectiions_village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Located directly opposite of this monolith, was the automotive boutique that I had hoped to find. Positioned out front were two examples of Porsches latest race cars; a GT3 Cup Car, and an example of their brand new LMP1 class, 919 Hybrid.

Porsche boutique_fan stop_GT3 Cup Car_3/4 side view__village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Porsche boutique_fan stop_LMP1, 919 Hybrid_3/4 side view__village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Porsche boutique_fan stop_LMP1, 919 Hybrid_3/4 front view__village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Porsche boutique_fan stop_LMP1, 919 Hybrid_front wheel & tire detail__village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Porsche boutique_fan stop_LMP1, 919 Hybrid_3/4 rear view__village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Serving as the backdrop for these two race cars, was a semi tractor-trailer designed as a rolling Porsche boutique, complete with pop-outs to deliver an expandable showroom.

Porsche boutique_fan stop_3/4 side view__village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

As much as I wanted to enter the boutique to check out the contents, the line to enter continued to grow in size and the number of people entering was being regulated, so I figured I would return later.

Porsche boutique_fan stop_roof top banners__village infield_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Ironically, located immediately behind the Porsche Fan Spot boutique was the Paddock area and the entrance to the garages, pit area and pit lane grandstands. And as the following photos illustrate, Porsche took full advantage of this particular area to advertise their 2014 return to Le Mans…

Porsche supergraphics_nos fans_pit row grandstands_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014
Porsche supergraphics_pit row grandstands_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Porsche supergraphics_nos fans#2_pit row grandstands_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Porsche supergraphics_La meilleure energie motice qui soit_pit row grandstands_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Porsche supergraphics_the most powerful..._pit row grandstands_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Below, the multi-storied Race Control building, whose occupants would be responsible for managing the race for the full 24 hours, and located at the entrance to pit lane.

Race control building_pit row _Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Circling the garage / paddock area, I was fortunate to spot the latest race car transporters for the Porsche factory team; commissioned with delivering their new LMP1 919 hybrids to race tracks throughout Europe.

Porsche race car haulers_ 919 hybrid_paddock/garage area_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Spotted parked four rigs over from the end, was this tractor/trailer combo for Porsche Motorsports. I suspect that the large boxes on the rear lift gate contained body parts for either the latest 911 RSR’s or the new 919 hybrid.

Porsche motorsports parts trailer_paddock/garage area_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Another Porsche venue (Spirit of Le Mans) discovered on my walk back up through the infield village…

Porsche spirit of Le Mans display_infield village area_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Being the ever inquisitive Porsche fan, I walked up to the tent flap to see what was inside.

Porsche spirit of Le Mans display_908/02 #48_infield village area_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Looking inside, I found a crew still in the process of working to complete the display. I was able to grab a few quick shots as they made their way toward where I was standing.

My first shot (above), was of what appeared to be the Porsche 908/02 that Steve McQueen and Peter Revson drove to a second place finish at Sebring back in 1970.

My second shot (below), captured what looked to be Porsches last overall Le Mans 24 race winner from back in 1998; the awesome 1998 GT1LM…

Porsche spirit of Le Mans display_1998 GT1LM rear view_infield village area_Le Mans24_June 14, 2014

Would having this car on site bring luck to the multiple Porsche teams competing at this years race, and would Porsche repeat their overall race victory this year with their new 919 hybrid?

Please stay tuned for part two of my blog, which will cover the entire 24 hours of the race, as well as my post race travels through the Loire Valley and return to Paris.

(Here’s a sneak peek of two race shots)…

Porsche 911RSR #91_LeMans24_2014

Porsche 919 hybrid#20_LeMans24_2014

(All photos by the author)