KnightHawk's "got the fever" at Le Mans

KnightHawk's "got the fever" at Le Mans

June 12, 2002 Le Mans, France -- The pace in the KnightHawk paddock has reached a fevered pitch as the team and drivers take to the track this evening for the first time since the Preliminary Practice session in May. Today's on-track activity...

June 12, 2002 Le Mans, France -- The pace in the KnightHawk paddock has reached a fevered pitch as the team and drivers take to the track this evening for the first time since the Preliminary Practice session in May. Today's on-track activity will mark the 1st qualifying practice session for this weekend's 70th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Prototype drawing of the KnightHawk Racing MG Lola 675 LMP; graphics depict the team's theme of a soaring nighthawk by designer Dean Thompson.
Photo by Fineline Signs and Graphics.

The KnightHawk organization began preparation for this giant race over a year ago and all their work is taking shape these last few days before the green flag drops. Team owners and managers alike will likely tell all who will listen that there are about a million and one things that need to be done in order to prepare for a race of this magnitude. They'll also tell you that 50 or more of the things that need to be done -- will not be completed -- or simply forgotten.

Long after the drivers and team owners have left the circuit for the day, and long after the team's PR man has scurried away for dinner with an all-important member of the media, the team manager and his crew of dedicated mechanics will still be working on the car. There is never enough time, they will be the first to tell you, to do everything that can be done to the car. Reaching a point where there's nothing left to do on a racecar is an impossibility. It will never happen. Ever. Long into the night mechanics will be sprawled under the car, or with fingers deep inside a gearbox, or changing a engine merely because it is five hundredths of a second off the pace. The KnightHawk crew is one of these dedicated crews. They'll work until dawn's early light -- if you'll let them.

KnightHawk's driving team for this year's endurance classic in their lightening fast rocket -- the #30 KnightHawk MG Lola 675 LMP - will consist of the team's two principals and drivers -- Mel Hawkins and Steve Knight -- they will be joined by the well-regarded Duncan Dayton. Each of these drivers enjoy two careers; very successful business careers, and professional racing careers. Each have created and maintain a daily mental and physical exercise regimen that will keep them in "race shape" for the entire racing season, but when a 24-hour race comes along -- this is something all together different. Each driver will modify his daily regimen to better prepare for a grueling 24-hour endurance event.

Steve Knight, starting months before the race, will play, and replay, over and over again, a video tape of last year's race on monitors strategically placed in his workout room. Mel Hawkins will increase his daily training with his personal trainer to two hour sessions 5 to 6 days per week. Duncan Dayton will increase his time on the couch drinking beer and eating potato chips in order to spike his carb level and increase his fat reserves. . . but seriously, Duncan is super-fit due to an intense combination of cardio and weight training that is far and above his normal daily regimen.

For those of you reading this release that aren't fortunate enough to be at the race this year, it's important for you know that this is most definitely the "Superbowl" of sportscar racing. This race will pit the world's best drivers against each other, piloting the most technologically advanced racecars ever produced. Manufacturer supported teams will spend many millions on this one race alone. $150,000 engines -- too many to count. $50,000 gearboxes -- very common. Tire warmers -- yes, that's right -- tire warmers. Audi has a three-story multi-thousand square foot hospitality castle that has a cocktail lounge and dance floor on the uppermost level. Two hundred and fifty thousand fans from all over the globe will enjoy the event. Over 1400 journalists will attend and provide coverage. The television broadcasts will reach over 400 million people in more than 160 countries.

Steve Knight.
Photo by Carlo Rovatti.

To use an old saying, "it just doesn't get any better than this." When the green flag drops at 4pm on Saturday the heavens will roar and the ground will shake -- trust us on that one -- and it will last until the checkered flag drops on Sunday at 4pm. There is simply nothing like the sound and vibration of one of these cars racing past you at over 200mph. The fact that they will do this for 24 straight hours is a feat of engineering that is hard for anyone, even the experts, to comprehend. What it will do -- guaranteed -- is send shivers up your spine. Make no mistake about it -- this is a motorsport war at the highest level in the most advanced modern-day chariots on the planet.

The KnightHawk team is prepared.
The KnightHawk team is ready.
The KnightHawk team has "got the fever".
Fans -- Start your senses!

Mel Hawkins
I've been dreaming about racing here for as long as I can remember. I've spent countless hours daydreaming about the experience. The May Practice Session was merely foreplay to this week's activities. Starting today, I'll be making one of my dreams come true. How many men get the chance to do that. I'm a lucky man.

Steve Knight
No standard PR quotes this time . No -- "the engine has been blah, blah, blah, the crew has been working yada, yada, yada." This race is too cool for that. That's not what you want to hear. Here's the deal - I can't wait to get in the car and get my hands on the wheel and put my foot on the pedal and head down this circuit. Do I like the wind racing past my helmet at 200+ mph? Darn right. Do I like instantaneous rocket-like acceleration when I gently tap on the pedal? You betcha. Do I enjoy the thrill and challenge of negotiating a corner at 120mph? Heck, yeah.

Duncan Dayton
I sure hope my "couch-laying, beer-drinking, potato chip eating strategy pays off. Granted, it's a new alternative system, but much more enjoyable that most normal workout strategies. But seriously, just like Steve and Mel, this is my first time racing at Le Mans. For a guy like me, who all his life has wanted to do nothing more than race cars, this is the pinnacle. The level of competition here is beyond extraordinary.


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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Duncan Dayton , Steve Knight