LE MANS, France — The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a unique event.
It is a week long, (more than that if you count the test Sunday held this year two weeks prior to the big show), with the build up starting with Scrutineering and Administrative checks on the Sunday and Monday before the race.
This is a special happening that kicks off a week of intense competition. Everything is examined in minute detail from the car’s, chassis, engine, wings and suspension to the driver’s safety equipment, their licenses, team licenses and, of course, medical information. That is not what makes scrutineering at Le Mans so special. (Well it can be special in that not so fun kind of way if you fall a foul of the ACO scrutineers who have the sense of humor of Gengis Khan).
All these checks happen in the course of every event in one way or another, so what makes this a happening? It is the location and the attitudes.
Most often scrutineering is done behind closed doors. Not for Le Mans. Nope, the French have made this a public event held in the town square known as Place de la Republique. Come one! Come all!
The square is annually crammed with spectators forming a gauntlet of humanity for the cars and drivers to navigate as they work through the process. It is a chance for the fans to see the cars and stars up close, even seeing under the skin of some of these space age wonder machines.
The drivers sign lots of autographs pose for those famous huge Le Mans team photos and even take time to sit down with the media, sometimes renewing old acquaintances and sometimes introducing new folks into the welcoming world of sports car racing.