What It Really Takes To Win The 24 Hours Of Le Mans

"I think I must've counted every single shift that I did for the last two or three hours of the race."

They call the 24 Hours of Le Mans an endurance race, but what does that mean? This report doesn't exactly cover the most headline-grabbing race in Le Mans history. It's about how one team won their class back in 1982 in a Porsche 924 Carrera GTR. They were running in IMSA GTO, not even the top GT class. It is, historically speaking, barely even a footnote.

I only found this clip because I was looking for video of the second place car, an awesome third-gen Camaro.

I ended up with a perfect description of how a endurance racer must drive as they grow tired, and their car grows tired.

Driver Jim Busby's quotes as the car's gearbox slowly fails, ultimately losing fifth gear, are incredible.

I can remember thinking to myself, 'How many times do all those little teeth on all those little gears in the transmission have to get stopped when you engage the synchromesh?' And coming down into Mulsanne and thinking, 'OK I've got two downshifts here, shall I make 'em both? Or shall I skip a gear and save that synchromesh?' I mean, you start thinking as if you were part of the machine.

And operating the machine, you start imagining that your hand is an extension of the transmission, and every time you move the stick, you have a terrific amount of sympathy for the machine itself.

I think I must've counted every single shift that I did for the last two or three hours of the race.

The struggle to keep the car together, the loneliness of a failing radio.

Above is actually the second part of the recap, the first section is below. It covers the start for the BF Goodrich team of Busby, Doc Mundy, and Marcel Mingot.

But it's those final hours that I find so intriguing, when driver and car become one and limp towards the finish line.

To me, this is endurance racing.