Last night, a movie producer friend and I drove up to Santa Barbara to watch the screening of Audi's "Truth in 24" documentary film, which made its debut at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. I first heard about this film from a story that our own Andy Blackmore wrote on Speedhunters. His brief story somehow made me want to check out the film's website, which is nothing short of spectacular.
The film is a documentary of Audi's efforts at the 2008 Le Mans 24H race, which is said by many to one the most famous and most important races in all of motorsports. In case you didn't know, they view the "Top 3" most important races to be the Indy 500, Formula 1's Monaco Grand Prix, and the 24 hours of Le Mans.
This film was outstanding. Incredible. It was the best accounting of Le Mans on film that I've ever watched. Ever. One of the key aspects that I liked about the film is how it showed the importance of teamwork and the incredibly difficult and crucial role that the team engineers play in orchestrating a win at Le Mans, which was the underdog this year. This year, they had a very hard fight against the brand new Peugot turbo diesel cars, which were newer and much, much faster than the Audi's race proven, but older race cars.
In this photo above, the guy on the left, standing in front of the car was the Audi engineer for the winning Le Mans team this year. Truth in 24 showed that it was his foresight and planning, his deliberate strategy, and his steadfast decision making that made the difference this year… it was his incredible research into the minute-by-minute weather forecast at Le Mans that allowed him to plan which lap their top contender for the win should pit… forcing the team to do a tire change, despite arguments from the driver, Tom Kristensen, who was at that point the number two car in the field.
This single decision was the key to Audi's win at Le Mans this year. Amazing.
Here's the outside of one of the theaters during the film festival. There were all sorts of people in attendance, waiting in line to see movies in the film festival. Good thing our press passes boosted us right up to the front of the line, and we didn't have to wait! Awesome.
Here's our own John Brooks' amazing night shot of Audi's race winning #2 car, being driven by the famous "Mr. LeMans," Tom Kristensen from Denmark in the stark darkness. The film showed just how little visibility he had while he was driving the car at night in the rain. He was doing 100 and 200mph in some sections, then had to slow to 50mph for some sections where he couldn't even see the apexes of the turns! He was driving purely on memory and guts. So incredible! Can you imagine doing 200mph and not even being able to see where your effing braking points are?! Insane!
Yet Mr LeMans pulled it off, with perfect laps every time… his tremendous performance in the rain allowed Audi to gain on the Peugot team, who was leading the race with the fastest cars out there.
Here's a cool time lapse shot by our own Speedhunter team member, John Brooks. John was actually at Le Mans, capturing all the drama and excitement as a contracted shooter for Audi.
This is a great photo, because it shows the importance of the pit stops. Audi was at the track several days before the other teams, just timing and rehearsing their pit stops. They knew that Peugot's car pulled much faster lap times (3 minutes faster than Audi!), so their strategy was to make up for it with faster pit stops. They also pulled a daring move by doing less driver changes… Audi drivers were pulling triple and quadruple driving shifts!!! Audi knew that pit stops with driver changes took much longer than normal pit stops, so their strategy was to change drivers less frequently. Amazing. The insight, pre-planning, and endurance that these drivers and teams had were just incredible.
Congratulations to the entire Audi team at the LeMans 24H! Great team photo by Sir John B. The car on the left had a group of Audi's oldest, most experienced drivers… the middle car (winning car) had Audi's "dream team" behind the wheel, and the team on the right is the young Audi team. These guys were new, fresh drivers that sought to prove themselves against the older guys. Interestingly enough, they won 4th place. Quite an accomplishment.
Here's the winning driving team in white… Allan McNish (with his second win at LeMans. Hopefully this time they spell his name correctly on the trophy plaque which permanently sits in the cobblestoned city center of LeMans), Dindo Capello, and Mr LeMans, Tom Kristensen. Tom drove the last lap of the race for the team, marking the 8th Le Mans win for Audi (and for himself! He won LeMans 8 freaking times!). Incredible.
Seriously, Truth in 24 is such a great movie. Go to their website to view the trailers, and see if it will come to your city. If it does, I highly urge you to check it out. I can't wait til it's available on video. The imagery was amazing, and you absolutely MUST watch the incredible play by play commentary by Allan McNish, as he shows you what it's like to actually drive LeMans.