Pre-race activities start Saturday, June 22 at 8:30 a.m. ET/5:30 a.m. PT, with the green flag waving at 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT.
Le Mans celebrates its 90th anniversary – first contested in 1923 – with 22.5 hours on SPEED and two-and-a-half hours online. In addition to its fully produced coverage, SPEED.com is offering two Corvette Racing onboard cameras, as well as a live view from General Motors pit lane. This exclusive two-screen experience can be seen at http://speedtv.com/corvette.
“Le Mans remains my favorite race in the entire world," said Bob Varsha, who first called Le Mans in 1988. “Not just because I’ve been going there and covering the race for a long time – but it’s such a unique event. Like very few others on the planet, perhaps even including the Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco, Le Mans is an event that stands on its own."
Varsha and Brian Till are anchoring the lap-by-lap coverage, while former and current drivers Dorsey Schroeder, Scott Pruett, Darren Law and Calvin Fish provide color commentary throughout the race. On pit road and in the paddock are Jamie Howe, Greg Creamer, Justin Bell and Andrew Marriott.
“This is Le Mans; the one race every sports car driver – perhaps every driver, period – wants to win," Varsha said. “That alone makes it a big event and something that, as a broadcaster, I’m proud and excited to be a part of."
Varsha is not alone.
“It’s a dream come true," Tweeted actor Patrick Dempsey, upon learning of his spot in the 56-car grid this past February, the second time (2009) he’s competed at the legendary 8.469-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.
Dempsey, who is best known for his roles in Grey’s Anatomy and the blockbuster movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon, joins his Dempsey-Del Piero Racing teammates Joe Foster and Patrick Long as the only ‘All-American’ driver lineup among this year’s entries.
“It’s so many things to so many different people," Varsha said. “To the hardcore, it’s one of the classic motor racing events. To the ‘techy,’ it’s the highest form of sports car racing with some of the sharpest technology in all of motor sports. For the casual fan, it’s a carnival, with so many things to see and do. You can walk around to different parts of the track and see the race from an entirely different perspective… right up along the fence with cars seemingly just an arms-length away."
Aside from the spectacle and pageantry it’s movies like Steve McQueen’s 1971 cult classic Le Mans, and the organizers insistence on maintaining the race’s original and historic ‘road racing’ integrity, that make it one of the sports world’s most romanticized events.
“The Le Mans circuit starts and finishes within the confines of an existing facility known as the Bugatti Circuit, which is a traditional race track within fencing and boundaries," Varsha said. “But for the 24 Hours weekend, they open the doors at either end of that track and these beautiful machines rocket off into the countryside in one of the last, truly great endurance road races in the world.
“It goes from a two-and-a-half mile to an eight-and-a-half mile track; showcasing those corner names that are so reminiscent to fans of the sport – Mulsanne, White House, Tertre Rouge, Arnage, Indianapolis and on and on. You can stay in the pit area and watch the teams at work, mingle with the crowds in the grandstands; and actually see places that you may have only seen in books, magazines and movies.
“Or, you can wander off into the countryside; where folks sit at the pool, looking out their kitchen window, stand by the fence in their back yard or camp out in the woods," Varsha continued. “There are so many different perspectives. You can sit all by yourself, at the corner of a country lake and watch the cars go by; sit on an embankment with a crowd of people or you can buy a ticket for the grandstands and sit in those famous terraces and watch the cars sweep by towards the Dunlop Bridge. There’s a carnival, there’s a Ferris wheel, there’s vendors – there’s something going on for everybody at Le Mans."
Along with multi-platform streaming, Marshall Pruett and John Dagys have complete SPEED.com coverage from Le Mans as well, including race blogs, video updates, photos, social media content and a watch module. A feed is also going to be streamed to SPEED’s Facebook page, iPads and IPhones (U.S. & Canada only).
2013 Le Mans 24 Hours
(All Times Eastern; Schedule Subject To Change)
Saturday, June 22
Le Mans 24 Hours (The Start) 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (SPEED; Live)
Le Mans 24 Hours 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (SPEED.com; Live)
Sprint Cup Series Qual. (Sonoma) 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (SPEED; Live)
Le Mans 24 Hours 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (SPEED; Live)
Le Mans 24 Hours 7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (SPEED.com; Live)
SPEED Center 7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (SPEED; Live)
Le Mans 24 Hours 7:30 p.m. – Midnight (SPEED; Live)
Sunday, Jan. 23
Le Mans 24 Hours (The Finish) Midnight – 9:30 a.m. (SPEED; Live)