Sunday, June 12, 2011

Surf Marathon

Couch surfin' that is! This weekend I surrendered totally to the panoply of motorsports on TV. The 24 Hours of Le Mans was epic as always in it's inimitable style, but there was a new twist I haven't seen from le Circuit de la Sarthe, record cold temperatures.

As Sunday morning dawned over Le Mans, the mercury dipped to 40°F, a record going back at least 15 years (I couldn't find the all-time record low for the day in Le Mans) The cold proved to be quite a problem when the cars were following slowly behind the Safety Car and tire temperatures fell out of the optimum range for decent traction.

There were more periods behind the safety car than I remember from Le Mans past, and the chilled rubber lead to many off track excursions once the Safety Care left the circuit. There were a fair number of offs coming out of the pits as well.

Tire warmer blankets like those used by Formula One Teams are not allowed in Sports Car Endurance Racing, but the Le Mans Teams use Infrared Ovens to heat the tires. However, pit stops in Endurance Racing are not the lightning fast sub-12 second stops as seen in F1, IndyCar or NASCAR.

Le Mans pit stops are more stately affairs where nothing else happens when the fuel is flowing into the cars. Once refueling is completed, then the tires can be changed, wings adjusted, drivers changed, even brakes can be replaced if necessary. All this caution does come at a price...while all this is going on, the tires...on the cars, or fresh out of the ovens, are cooling off, and when the cars finally leave pit lane, the tires can be out of the desired temperature range for best traction.

Should a driver not heed the subtle signs of a tire not up to temp, he can spin off the track in the blink of an eye. There was a lot of that Sunday morning.

Still, Le Mans was one for The Ages this year, with the last man standing AUDI battling three Peugeots for the victory. The two other AUDIs suffered horrific crashes that fortunately didn't hurt anyone.

I watched a lot of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but I couldn't stay awake with four hours to go, so I set my alarm for 5:45AM and got up for the final 15 minutes. It didn't stick...I fell back asleep in two minutes flat.

On this side of the Big Pond, torrential rain was on tap for the start of the Canadian Grand Prix. The race began behind the Safety Car for the first five laps before the cars were released to race at full song. The track began to dry and Jensen Button was the first car to pit of intermediate rain tires. Button's lap times began to fall quickly, and in three laps time, Jensen was lapping 5 seconds quicker that the cars still on full wets.

Several cars pitted for Inters before the skies opened and Biblical Flood-Style rain caused race control to redeploy the Safety Car. On Lap 20 of 70 the race was red now we wait...

11:30AM PDT
My DVR is watching the MotoGP from Silverstone...I wonder if it's raining there too?

It's still pouring down in Montreal...forecasters say it will begin to lighten up around 15 minutes from now, but watching the video of some Stewards' Cars driving around the track I'm guessing an hour after it stops raining before the track can be dried enough to restart the race.

If and when they get the Canadian Grand Prix restarted, I'm hoping it will be over by the first pitch of this evening's Giants game!

Noon PDT
I'm off to the Farmer's Market!


  1. I couldn't watch the DVR'd MotoGP from Silverstone in the British was raining there too!

    Besides, I think the Canadian GP spent all my Motorsports Mojo for the weekend!

    Hopefully the Giants' game will be relaxing...pastoral even. I'm not sure I've got enough left in me for Torture!

  2. Put down the pickles mon ami!

    Time to git up off of that recline and get to moving it yourself. You know that's why you have all the gizmos and gadgets so one can be multiplaces at the same time.

    What a wondrous day of sun light (ow! it hurts my eyes) and puffy light clouds.

    Lucky me.