A surprising revelation of endurance racing is the fact most drivers are far from being spring chickens. Here's a few examples.
Contrary to the teenage sprinters in Formula 1, the field at a race like Le Mans is mostly made up of middle-age guys, with a few granddads thrown in for good measure.
Take Yojiro Terada. Born in 1947, he has raced cars since the 60s and has competed at Le Mans an astonishing 29 times. While victory has eluded him so far, he has won his class on four occasions. He also appears to like perfectly circular fried eggs, as evidenced on his blog.
While frying eggs is a relaxing pastime, driving racing cars at Le Mans is not: if you stand at the braking zone of a corner, you can see that cars decelerate with the ferocity of spaceships reentering the atmosphere. Now imagine taking that pummeling with grandpa bones, corner after corner, lap after lap.
Only a few years younger than Terada is Hans-Joachim Stuck, the son of 30s Grand Prix driver Hans Stuck whose Auto Union will be up for auction in August. Hans-Joachim is an highly accomplished racing driver himself: he has won two times at Le Mans and three times at Sebring, a race he is returning to this weekend.
Stuck will race at the 12 Hours of Sebring in VICI Racing’s #18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, teamed up with Nicky Pastorelli and his son Johannes Stuck. “Racing at Sebring again after winning for the first time in 1975 means a lot to me, especially when it comes to the fact that I can compete in the 2009 race with my son Johannes and further to that it will be my first race with Porsche since my last race for the factory in Laguna Seca 11 years ago in 1997,” the 58-year-old said.
The Sebring race on Saturday will also mark the debut of Audi’s new diesel R15, which is replacing the R10. The new car has had all its testing in cold, rainy Europe and Ralf Jüttner, Technical Director of Audi Sport Team Joest, is somewhat jittery:
We are not as well prepared as we would like to be—but this is actually always the case with a new car. Unfortunately, it hurt us a lot this year that the tests in Europe were affected constantly by bad weather and we have not run in hot conditions like we can expect at Sebring. Furthermore, for the first time we did not test at Sebring before the race—which means we have no experience whatsoever with the Audi R15 TDI on the track.
This is shaping up to be a wonderful Florida weekend.