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Want to attend Le Mans 24 Hours in 2018? Here's a guide for rookies

2017-06-26 07:32

HUGE CROWD: With 250 000 spectators Image: Jan present at the Le Mans weekend, its best to get to the venue as early as possible. Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post

Janine Van der Post

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post attended her maiden 24 Hours of Le Mans race in June 2017 and shares some crucial things she learned.

Le Mans, France - If you're a petrolhead, Le Mans is probably one of those things every car nut will dream of attending at least once in their lifetime.

There are a few things you should know if you're saving up to attend the world-famous race in 2018 or beyond.

The first thing you have to get get to grips with is that Le Mans 24 Hours is not just a full day of racing. It's so much more than that. For some, it's a way of life.

I always knew it was big, and even when watching the race live on TV I was still not prepared for the sheer scale of the event. The track is 13.6km long. That means getting various views and angles around the track will translate into a great trek between corners such Indianapolis, Ford Chicane, Porsche Curves or the Mulsanne straight.

1 Do your homework! There's a very user-friendly website created by the organisers of the event. You need to browse it. It still won't fully prepare you for the enormity of the event but it's a good start. The fact that there's information about 14 big screens around the track, and six different large parking areas should already set off alarm bells.

2 Shoes made for walking should be a priority for anyone attending a race.It is imperative, and will save you from painfull blisters. I had foolishly taken my walking shoes out of my bag when packing at the very last minute because it wouldn't really match any of my clothes and to save on bag space. This was an ignorant move, and one I will forever regret.

3 Earplugs are vital too. No matter how big a fan you are of rumbling engines, the noise is constant and excruciatingly loud. Noise travels and because the 50-odd cars are never running at the exact same pace, and other cars are slower than others, the whizzing of cars blurring past on the track is continuous for 24 hours. No matter how much you love the sound, you won't be able to physically stand the drone in your ears for long. Your hearing will be impaired by the end of the first day.

4 It's not just a race. It's a massive motorshow. There are various motorshow stands displaying new models from various car manufacturers and merchandise stores galore. There's also a mini carnival section with kiddie games and a huge Ferris wheel.

5 Not for the claustrophobic. Considering there were reportedly about 250 000 spectators at the event this year, it's best to know where you're going and identify various meeting points with your friends and family in case you get separated. It's very easy to become disorientated with so many people around. It means long queues for anything and everything, and overcrowded spots at all venues.  

6 Not for the lighthearted, nor the unfit. Even if you have a grandstand ticket, there is way too much amazing motoring to experience. You'll have to walk, and you'll have to walk far. Refer back to point No.2. Thank goodness I started using the stairs, albeit just a few flights, recently, else I would have dropped dead from sheer exhaustion. It's best to walk at your own pace and not hustle in the heat.

7 Prepare for a heatwave. The 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours took place at the start of a heatwave it seemed. Weather reports rated temperatures between 23-28 degrees but instead it was between 34 and 38 degrees during my stay. Pack very cool and comfy clothing. Yes, it gets a tiny bit chilly at night, but it's still ridiculously hot until late in the evening. We had returned to the hotel at 9pm one evening and it was still 34-degrees outside. The sun only sets at about 10pm there. With that said, the event had non-stop rain the entire weekend of 2015, so pack a warm jacket just in case.

8 Have money to spend. Yes things are terribly expensive (at least for South Africans) and getting there could cost an arm and a leg but it's worth saving-up. You can't go all the way and not purchase a souvenir. Even if it's just a beer cup, a guide, t-shirt or cap. It's worth it. You might even be able to get your items signed by a veteran driver...

9 Stay cool. Drink loads of water and stay hydrated. There isn't really much shade and even the fancy hospitality suites can become stuffy and crowded. Also make sure you have protective headgear and lather up with sunscreen, even if you have to look like a zombie.

10 Fashion is irrelevant. Despite Paris' reputation as a the world's fashion capital, you need to dress appropriately. Dressing chic is actually a fashion faux pas and the people of Le Mans don't seem to care what they're wearing as long as they are comfortable. Also, refer back to point No.2.

VIEW: 24 Hours of Le Mans in 14 cool pics

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