A 24 hour race. The 24 Hours of Le Mans or the U.S. equivalent, the 24 hours of Daytona, are both incredible endurance races where just finishing is a cause for celebration. An intense race like the Daytona 500 takes roughly 3-1/2 hours to complete, however this is a “Walk in the Park” when compared to running a car flat out for 24 hours. Consider that operating a street car under these same conditions would be the equivalent of a lifetime of wear and tear, every mechanical system in the car would be completely used up.
Like the wear and tear on the racecar, the people involved are also pushed to the limits. The rules allow for a minimum of 3 drivers per car, some teams will have 4 to 5 drivers per car to complete the 24 hour race. The drivers all take turns at the wheel rotating in one hour driving stints and even double stinting on rare occasion for the driver’s that are in incredible physical condition. When they are not in the car, they are trying to sleep as much as possible. In the case of teams with three drivers doing 1 hour stints, this only leaves each driver with a little less than 2 hours until the next driving stint, that isn’t much sleep. The mechanics usually get even less sleep than the drivers. Typically, the mechanics stay up for about 40 hours, from early Saturday morning until the race festivities have concluded on Sunday night and the transporters have been fully loaded. If the car is doing really well, the mechanic may be able to catch a 10 to 20 minute nap here and there but if a problem arises they must be awake and with a sharp mind at a moment’s notice, literally.
The racecar basically starts out with all new components for a 24 hour race, the engine, gearbox, suspension, brakes and wheel bearings; nearly every mechanical part on the car is new and/or has been inspected for flaws. During a 24 hour race, the racecar will be completely refueled every hour with approximately 100 liters or 26.4 gallons of fuel. The racecar will usually require a new set of tires every hour, that’s roughly 24 sets of tires, sometimes more usually due to driver error. The racecar will sometimes require one set of front and rear brake pads and occasionally the brake rotors. Changing out the brakes on a racecar that has just come off the track is not an easy procedure in the pit lane; all the brake components are basically red hot. Sometimes the windshield will need replacement; this also is not as easy as it sounds. The engine and chassis cannot be replaced but most all other components can be if needed. The engine will need oil added during the race as there is no stopping for an oil change. However, as the engine wears internally, its oil consumption will progressively get worse and thus it will need more and more engine oil added as the race transpires. After the completion of the 24 hour race, the engine, gearbox, suspension, drive shafts, wheel bearings and turbochargers (if equipped) are basically worn out.
The overall budget for competing in the Daytona 24 hour with a GT class car will usually be in the $150k neighborhood, this does not include the price of the car, tools and spare parts. The 24 hours of Le Mans with the same car will run in the $850k range or more. The reason for the difference is the European air travel for the crew, the car and everything else that is brought along, plus the ground transportation of everything once in Europe. Add to this the team member’s accommodations, food and hospitality for sponsors, tires, fuel, etc., etc., plus the entry fees. Keep in mind that an entry in the 24 hours of Le Mans in by invitation only. These budgets are actually very basic and do not allow for anything extra that could be considered extravagances.
Porsche keeps in close communication with every team racing their cars. They provide incredible support and access to anything that might be needed. For Porsche, every race represents a learning experience. Porsche racing management and engineers are always in close contact with the teams, both from the standpoint of helping, but also observing. This is one of the reasons Porsche racecars and road cars are so amazingly great, the knowledge gained from motorsport goes into every car they manufacture.
Enjoy Your Porsche.