Photo courtesy of Unsplash. Photo by Andrea Guadagno.
How many times in your life — particularly in the year 2020 – might a teenager come up to you and offer to sell you a portable radio for ten euros? And how many times in your life would you actually think and say ‘Yes. Thanks, pal! That’s exactly what I need.’
Well, get your red 10 Euro note ready because you’re in Le Mans now, and time-tested FM radio – and the rocketing chatter of its legendary commentators – is one of the best, and most practical, ways to absorb all 13.626 kilometres of the extraordinary 24 Hours race at once.
A hand raises at the back of the room. Um, excuse me, I hear you say: there’s a little thing called the internet? Good point. Well, in typical years, the Le Mans race can attract hundreds of thousands of spectators. With Le Mans population literally doubled overnight, and with everyone lifting their phones in search of the good stuff, 4G all but vanishes into thin air. Also, if you’re hardcore and following the whole day in solidarity with the drivers, to keep your phone running through the whole shebang you’re going to need a battery pack the size of a suitcase. Which means – obviously – go chase that teenager right now, pay up, and tune in directly to 91.2FM.
Before you tuck those earbuds in, a lickety-split quick primer on what makes the Le Mans race so great, just to get that heart rate up a little. Le Mans is the world’s oldest and greatest endurance motor-race, which means rather than being a fixed point race – i.e. who gets from A to B in the quickest time – it’s who can lap the track the most in a set amount of time. And the set amount here is 24 hours – 1440 minutes or 86400 seconds – around the Circuit de Sarthe, a speedboat-shaped course mixing up roped-off public roads and dedicated race track. It’s all about judgement, technical precision and human/vehicular resilience – of course you want to go as far and as fast as possible, but you’ve got to make sure the car and the team of drivers will stand the test of time. Mechanical failure? You’re disqualified. It’s the race that bred new leagues of 5000km-ready cars; it’s the race that inspired the eponymous film starring Steve McQueen (TAG Heuer on his wrist obviously), it’s the race that — well… good! Now you’re listening.
« The original motorsport radio, 24/7, no music, just sport »RADIO LE MANS, 91.2FM http://www.radiolemans.co/
Launched in the 80s, Radio Le Mans’ tagline says it like it is – ‘The original motorsport radio, 24/7, no music, just sport’. And who needs music when you’ve got commentators like John ‘Hindy’ Hindhaugh, Shea Adam and ‘Cabana Boy’ Jonny Palmer, broadcasting direct from the circuit for the full 24 hours (plus warm ups, build-ups and wind-downs), without a single interruption. The turbo-powered team will take you from the iconic French tricolour and flyover at the start, through heart-race and heartbreak, all the way to the finish line champagne – the first-known use of the now-famous ‘shake and spray’ technique. And all in a day’s – well, 28 hours in their case – work.
Every year, Radio Le Mans, RLM to its pals, is a trusty companion to the race, something of an old friend you’re irrationally happy to greet each summer. As people drive closer to the site of the race, and start to pick up the frequency, it’s a sign that one of the best weekends of the year has begun. Every race lover has their own RLM story. Their favourite handheld radio they picked up over the years (perhaps the 1998 vintage?). The hum of the radio becoming the shared soundtrack of the campsite. Why is it so special? Because the coverage always goes the extra mile. Precise, knowledgeable, energetic, passionate, and unstoppably varied, with reports from pit lane crews wielding red-foam microphones, and interludes from a raft of impressive guest hosts.
For the drivers and Radio Le Mans broadcasters alike, the order of the day is endurance. Prestigious, heroic and bossing it without stop, they have a lot in common: world-class talent, superhuman circadian rhythms, and the ability to style it out under enormous pressure. Something we at TAG Heuer have always been able to get behind. So, wherever you are in the world, don’t forget to tune in.
This year’s Le Mans will take place on 19-20th September 2020. Tune into Radio Le Mans wherever you are in the world at http://player.radiolemans.co . In future years, if you’ll be trackside for the Race, get the static, static, crackle, radio tuning just right at 91.2FM.