FIRST RACE AT LE MANS WON'T LEAVE LIZARDS AWESTRUCK Sonoma, Calif. - Going to Le Mans for the first time as a competitor, Seth Neiman says, is like.uh, well, hmmm, geez. I guess I can't really say. You can't blame Neiman or any of his Flying...
FIRST RACE AT LE MANS WON'T LEAVE LIZARDS AWESTRUCK
Sonoma, Calif. - Going to Le Mans for the first time as a competitor, Seth Neiman says, is like.uh, well, hmmm, geez. I guess I can't really say.
You can't blame Neiman or any of his Flying Lizard Motorsports teammates or crew members. It's a first-time experience for all of them. Neiman, who will drive with Johannes Van Overbeek and Lonnie Pechnik in the 73rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, candidly admits he doesn't really know what to expect. He did, though, gain some insight when he went to Le Mans last year as an interested observer.
"A few of us went for a couple of days to get oriented," says Neiman, one of six Flying Lizard ownership principals. "We did not know (at the time) we'd be going, but we all hoped some day that we'd be asked."
Flying Lizard is just one of 14 teams from the American Le Mans Series heading to France for the world's most famous sports car race on June 18-19. The Lizards' No. 80 Porsche will vie with 14 other LM GT2 teams, including the ALMS' Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, Panoz Motor Sports and a partnership between BAM! and Alex Job Racing, among others.
Neiman says two things from his initial visit to Le Mans stood out. "The first time you pull onto the course, everybody's jaws just dropped.what it's like to be racing 190 mph down a narrow, two-lane road.for miles."
Then there was the crowd. "The first practice day, it was in the evening, and there must have been 75,000 people," Neiman recalled. "There were people everywhere, and this was just Wednesday."
To gain some additional knowledge, Flying Lizard personnel have sought reconnaissance from many sources. "Other teams (that have raced there), team owners, drivers we know, crew chiefs, we've gotten some wonderful input," Neiman said. "People have been very forthcoming. It's like 'Here's what you need to know when you go to Le Mans.'"
Flying Lizard has been working on Le Mans preparations since the early part of the year. "Just being invited puts you in elite company," Neiman said. "It changes your mind in what can be accomplished in sports car racing.
"What we aren't going to be ready for," he added, "is what a big week it's going to be. People have told us that a two-hour test is nothing. The track is so long that you will really have to hurry to get all three drivers in the car in a two-hour session."
Neiman knows his team "has no deep experience to draw on. The mood on our team is upbeat, everyone is very excited, for all the obvious reasons. We have done everything that we can. One of the things that I am very proud of is that all of our people have come together, gone out and learned what can be done. Our plan is to go there, present ourselves and see if we can still be running at the checkered flag."
Then return to Flying Lizard's Northern California home base with a treasure trove of memories from the team's initial Le Mans appearance.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be broadcast on SPEED Channel starting at 10 a.m. EDT June 18. The next race for the American Le Mans Series is the New England Grand Prix, set for 3 p.m. July 4 at Lime Rock Park. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED (3 to 6 p.m. EDT) and on MotorsTV in Europe, reaching 40 million viewers in 21 countries as well as at www.americanlemans.com.