McQUEEN’s labor of lovE
The amazing thing about Le Mans is that
there is no storyline, whatsoever, and yet
it captures the 24 Hours of Le Mans
absolutely beautifully – the challenge, the
atmosphere, the historical meaning, the
huge speeds and the epic cars. It also
captures Le Mans in a certain period, too,
and so you have amazing cars like the
Porsche 917 playing the starring roles.
It feels like I’ve always had a vague
recollection of the images of 917s in my
head. That car’s so iconic of that era if you
were growing up in the 1970s. Whether it
was pictures, models, or slot cars, they were
always Porsche 917s...and apparently
always in Gulf livery, weren’t they?
But it probably wasn’t until my early 20s
when I saw the movie for the first time,
after finding it in a video store. I thought,
“This is an obscure movie that I’ve never
seen before,” so I rented it and was totally
absorbed by the action – it’s amazing how
realistic Steve McQueen made Le Mans.
You feel that there was never any story
planned beforehand; it was more a decision
to go and shoot the 24 Hours of Le Mans
and capture the essence of the race, and
then someone thought about adding some
thin dialogue later. But I love that the
camera car, a Porsche 908, was in
contention for a podium finish if they
hadn’t had to make so many extra pitstops
to change the film reels. Isn’t that insane?
I guess there was no pressure to do well,
so they did well!
You have to admire McQueen – and
John Frankenheimer on Grand Prix – for
going to so much effort to get the fantastic
camera angles that we tend to take for
granted these days because they’re so
much easier to achieve. Those movies are
more than 40 years old now and yet they
still draw you in, still give you the intense
“for race fans, those films have
become as iconic as the cars and
tracks featured within them”
(BELOW) Le Mans,
Porsche and an actor
about racing. Sounds
a familiar combo?
Sharing with Patrick
Long and Joe Foster,
Patrick Dempsey took
Piero Racing Porsche
911 GT3 RSR to
fourth in the LMGTE Am
class at this year’s
24 Hours of Le Mans.
Le Mans & me…
Huge speed, epic cars
feeling of speed, and still make you realize
that these drivers are living on the edge.
But at the same time they also capture
the era in which they were made. You
could say that, for race fans, those films
have become as iconic as the cars and
tracks that are featured within them.