Clint Field's 24 Hours of Le Mans Win Starting to Sink in
BRASELTON, Georgia - Only a few days removed from scoring a class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this past weekend, and being awake for 48 straight hours in the process, Clint Field is back home in Ohio and the reality of his accomplishment is starting to set in.
Days shy of his 21st birthday, Field became one of the youngest winners in 72 editions of the most famous sports car endurance race in the world as he led an All-American effort to victory in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class. The Dublin, Ohio, resident co-drove his family-owned Intersport Racing Lola B2K/10-Judd Prototype with William Binnie of Portsmouth, N.H., and Rick Sutherland of Los Gatos, Calif.
Field's win came in his first start at Le Mans. His next race will be a little closer to home as he drives in American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio June 25-27, the next race for the American Le Mans Series. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is his home track, located only 50 miles from his team's shop.
"It's great that our next race is at home," he said on Tuesday as he was the center of attention at a media gathering at the Lexington, Ohio, track. "For us, it's really a big convenience, especially coming right from Le Mans. Our cars and equipment will get back from Le Mans and we're ready because we're right here.
"But it means a lot to be able to race at home, especially after winning at Le Mans," he said. "I'm thankful that we're going to have the chance."
Field said that his victory in France now seems more meaningful since he is at home, receiving attention from the media, friends and fans. "You really don't see all the hype and attention when you are racing," he said. "You're caught in the moment when you are there. But it's really sinking in that we won at Le Mans now that we're home."
Except for some minor problems, including a broken half-shaft during the night portion of the race, the Intersport car ran like clockwork. In contrast to several other teams in the LMP2 class, Intersport used an endurance racing-proven engine setup and the car kept going when many of its competitors were retired from the race.
"There are so many things that can go wrong in a 24-hour race, especially at Le Mans," Field said. "That circuit is so big, if you break down and you're a long way from the pits, you're pretty much done. We had a lot of luck and our team was grateful to be invited to race there.
"The best part was being on the (victory) podium," he said. "To see all of those people out there, just thousands and thousands of them, all cheering, was unbelievable. I'll never forget that.
"Le Mans is such a big race that everyone knows it," he said. "People can hear that you won at Le Mans and everyone knows what you're talking about. It's one of the biggest races in the world and is great to win."
The Intersport team will field two cars in the Mid-Ohio race, with Clint's father, Jon Field, co-driving with Duncan Dayton in a Lola B160-Judd that will run in the LMP1 class for larger, more-powerful Prototypes. Clint said that despite what most people think, he has not raced very many times at Mid-Ohio and neither has his father.
"Everybody thinks that because we're so close, that we're always out here testing, and that we've just raced hundreds of times here," he said. "I did a school race here once, the ALMS races in '01 and '02, and a couple of others, and maybe two test days, and that's it. My dad hasn't raced that much here. But it's still home for us and you always want to do well at home."
American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio will be Round Two of the 2004 season for the ALMS and will include a two-hour, 45-minute timed event on Sunday, June 27. Practice and qualifying will be held on Saturday, June 26, along with an autograph session featuring all ALMS drivers and an ALMS Fan Forum.
The race will be televised live by CBS Sports in North America and MotorsTV in Europe and will be broadcast live by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web online at www.americanlemans.com. Ticket information for the Mid-Ohio event is available online at www.americanlemans.com or by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO.