Towards Mulsanne

Le Mans is an immense racecourse and walking around to distant locations on the track to photograph is virtually impossible.  So when I was invited to ride to Mulsanne with several French and English photographers I jumped at the opportunity. Named after the nearby village of Mulsanne this turn is at the end of the Ligne Droite des Hunaudières, a 3.7 mile straight where the cars can reach 220 MPH before they heavily brake for this famous right hand corner. The sun was setting as we drove at speed on this unpaved road through the Sarthe forest. We had some distance to go when suddenly one of the French photographers started yelling “Freins, Freins!”  He was shouting “Brakes” because we could smell the brakes from the racing cars in the air before we ever arrived.  When we finally parked the car and walked to the track I was incredulous. The screams from the glowing red/orange brakes hauling the cars down from over two hundred MPH filled the night and the air was thick with the smell of their efforts and the torture of tires. The sun had gone down and I had no tripod and my lenses seemed to all be the wrong focal length. I tried a few pictures anyway but I couldn’t begin to photograph the awe-inspiring spectacle I was experiencing so I just watched in wonder.  Later when sorting through my slides I found this photograph and I remember my anticipation, excitement and what I witnessed that night in June.

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