Tag Archives: Le Mans

DRAGONBALL 24HR: Lights Out

Tomorrow, I embark on the race of the lifetime. I’ll be attempting to virtually drive non-stop1  around the Le Mans race circuit for 24 hours entirely solo, raising money for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. I’d be delighted if you could join me.

Earlier this year, I jumped head-first into the hobby of simulation racing [sim racing] by buying my first wheel-and-pedals set; a Logitech G29 Driving Force Racing Wheel. I’ve long been a fan of racing video games and motorsport ever since I was child, but this was my first foray into the heady world of sim racing. I’d love to race in real life, but sadly lack enough of the talent (and money) to go motor racing for real – so this is the closest I can do.

Behold, the rig:

Last weekend (10-11 June 2022) was the 90th edition of the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans: an endurance motor race around the city of Le Mans in the heart of France. I’ve twice attended the race in the past (in 2010 and 2011) as a spectator, and there is such an incredible feeling and ‘buzz’ around the whole event; it is proper electric. I’ve got huge respect for the drivers, who are able to stay on the limit for so long; each sharing two-hour stints with two other drivers in a car over duration of the 24-hour race.

Before rules were introduced which mandated that each car had to be piloted by a three-driver team (for obvious safety reasons), two-driver teams were common – I can only imagine how demanding that must have been to keep alert through day and night for so long. However, only one driver in history ever completed the full 24 Hours of Le Mans entirely solo: Edward (“Eddie”) Ramsden Hall, who undertook the feat during the the race in 1950:

“When asked what provision should be made for the, er, more fundamental of human functions during a 24 hour solo drive, Eddie Hall’s advice was short and succinct: ‘Wear green overalls.’”

Frankel (2017), ‘The One-Man Squad that Took On Le Mans

When I started sim racing earlier this year, I was really intrigued to try to see if I could do the same – race for 24 hours straight, and live to tell the tale. But I didn’t just want to tell the tale – I was keen to put it to good use to raise some awareness about a good cause at the same time. 

I considered a number of charitable causes that I could do this challenge in aid of: however, I wanted to choose one where I thought my contribution/donation would be able to have a direct and noticeable effect – a meaningful impact, rather than being just a drop in the ocean. The answer was somewhere close to home: the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA).

In the current time (post-pandemic, cost of living crisis, cuts to public services), it feels important to be able to ensure that critical medical services are available to anyone when needed; where urgent medical attention could, quite literally, be a matter of life and death.   

It’s the only facility (and charity) of its type in this local area and so it is one-of-a-kind – every time I hear or see the chopper going overhead, it’s kind of reassuring that there is an air ambulance facility still flying and helping save people’s lives: you never know when it might be you (or someone you love) that needs it.

As a side note: when I was originally designing the car livery for this challenge before I had even settled on HIOWAA as the primary recipient, I chose the car number ‘56’ simply due to its similarity to my initials (“SG”) and a naïve pipe-dream that it would one day grace a race helmet of mine. However, little did I know that the number 56 is the call-sign of the HIOWAA air ambulance (“Helimed56”) – clearly this was, as they say, a sign.

It’s not going to be easy – it might not be a physical challenge in the ‘traditional’ sense (I guess I’ll get a bit of cardio from steering the wheel and putting pedal to metal, but that’s about it), but it will be a challenge to keep up the energy and focus for a full 24 hours; especially as I’ll be live-streaming and potentially engaging with any viewers who drop by.

This is also all going to be pretty “new” to me: so far, the longest I’ve spent racing at a time has been a few hours – this will be quite a different beast. I’ve also never live-streamed before – in the run-up to this challenge, I’ve had to learn how to operate and set up livestreaming software, and practice being on camera whilst talking-and-driving. I think I’m up to the challenge; though I might need a constant supply of coffee to avoid sleeping at the wheel.

The hardest part will be when the Sun goes down – I’ll need to devise strategies to keep the momentum going and avoid drowsiness coming on. I estimate that I’ll complete around 360 laps over the course of the challenge, so I’m going to be seeing the same landmarks (grandstands, trees, road signs, advertising hoarding) over and over so will have to avoid the impulse to switch off completely – hopefully I can get into a rhythm of good lap times to keep me alert.

At the time of publication, we’ve already raised over £700, which is mind-blowing – I’d like to say a huge huge huge “thank you” to everyone who has contributed so far, it is absolutely amazing. The JustGiving campaign has already exceeded my wildest expectations – there has been strong support from family and friends and even some more far-flung supporters, and the green light hasn’t even gone out yet!

Thank you SO SO SO much – your support really makes a difference to the charity and the services provided by the air ambulance team, and I hope that I have even helped to raise more awareness of HIOWAA and their good work – even amongst motorsport fans further afield who may have stumbled across some of my posts or videos on social media. 

Right, we’ll there’s just around 24 hours to go now ’til it’s lights out and away we go – so I’m gonna go get prepared. See you at the end of the race 🏁

[Zinar7]

1 Well, minus the occasional bathroom break. I’m not a monster (!)

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Dragonball 24HR: FAQs

Over the 2nd-3rd July 2022, me and my co-driver David will be attempting to virtually drive non-stop around the Le Mans race circuit for 24 hours in the Project CARS 2 racing simulator to raise money for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance [HIOWAA].

Since this is a frankly barmy idea (and one that we will livestream via YouTube) that will subject both of us to a fair amount of public humiliation regarding our bad driving, it that would be massively appreciated if you can help us make it through this ordeal by sparing a few bob for the fine folksHIOWAA.

You can find more details, including links to donate towards our £1000 target, here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dragonball24-for-hiowaa

  • Why are you raising money for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance?

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) is an air ambulance service serving the counties of Hampshire and Isle of Wight in Southern England, responding to major trauma injuries and other incidents in need of a fast response/transfer to hospital.

HIOWAA’s Air Ambulance and Critical Care Team Vehicles are operational 7 days a week and attend an average of four incidents per day; many of them life-saving. The Air Ambulance can be anywhere in Hampshire within 15 minutes, and operates from 7am until 2am, 365 days a year. 

To support this work, HIOWAA rely entirely on donations from the community: it costs approximately £15,000 a day to keep their life-saving service operational, and they receive no direct government support.

  • Where does the money go?

All of the money raised from fundraising events (like this!) get funnelled back into keeping the HIOWAA vehicle fleet in the air and on the road, supporting their medical personnel in treating critical incidents across the South Coast. Every £50 donated could help HIOWAA purchase two high-quality thermal blankets, five packs of tourniquets, or replace a complete set of defibrillator pads.

HIOWAA’s Critical Care Teams are made up of Specialist Critical Care Paramedics, HEMS Doctors and Pilots; all equipped with state-of-the-art technology and advanced medication. The Air Ambulance is a twin-engined Airbus H135 helicopter (“Helimed56”): they can be at the scene of an incident within minutes, ready to deliver the same level of care that you would expect from a hospital emergency department.

You can find out more about where your donation goes by clicking: here.

  • Why aren’t you using <INSERT RACE SIMULATOR HERE> ?

It might be a few years old now (2015), but Project CARS 2 still looks fantastic and we wanted to give viewers something pretty to look at; especially the weather and day/night cycle effects.

As racing sims go, it might not be quite the pinnacle of physics realism when compared to something like Assetto Corsa Competizione, but it’s more than enough for a silly challenge like this. Plus, it natively supports multi-class, 24-hour races at Le Mans, so that’s ideal.

  • What race conditions are you using?

We’ll be playing an offline (single-player) race vs 90% AI difficulty. Between us, we have only been sim racing for a few months, so this AI difficulty setting is reasonably well-matched to our current skills.

We’ll be driving for 24 hours of both real and “in-game” time: we can only swap drivers for bathroom, food and rest breaks when the car goes into the pits – much like the real racers at Le Mans – and won’t be permitted to pause the game unless there’s a severe issue.

Weather is on RANDOM and with a realistic day/night cycle for July in the centre of France. We might get rain, we might get clear skies – we’ll leave it up to the RNG Gods.

All damage will be visual-only, i.e. not performance-limiting: we don’t want bad luck (or bad driving, which is much more likely) causing our race to end and ruining the challenge. Likewise, all flags and penalties will be suppressed, so we don’t run the risk of disqualification if one of us accidentally exceeds track limits too many times. The Toyota TS050 Hybrid is fitted with a native Traction Control (TC) and Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), but otherwise we’ll be using no driving aids.

There’s a grid of 31 other cars on the track, across three classes of car: LMP1-H [the class we’ll be in], LMP2 and GTE. Our starting grid position will be RANDOM, and the race gets underway via a rolling start.

  • When does it start / finish?

It’ll be lights out and away we go at around 0700 UTC on Saturday 02 July 2022 (that’s 08:00 UK time). Unless there’s any technical issues, the finish time will be at 0700 UTC the following day, Sunday 03 July 2022.

  • How will you go to the toilet?

We’ll have to wait until the next time the car comes in for a scheduled pit stop for fuel or tyres, and let the other driver jump into the rig.

  • What happens if the game crashes mid-race?

We’ll just restart in a new race, and drive until we’ve done a full 24 hours of in-game time. Hopefully we get through the whole race without any technical issues this time, but if any pop up then we’ll get back into the game as quickly as possible and continue until we’ve completed the full stretch in the car.

  • What happens if the steering wheel breaks?

If there’s a critical failure of the sim rig, then we’ll switch over to a gamepad to finish the rest of the race; even if that means having to switch to another video game. We ain’t quittin’.

  • What does “Dragonball 24HR” mean?

When me and my friends travelled to France by car & ferry to spectate at the 2010 and 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans, we stickered up our cars like racing cars; pretending that we were entrants in a fictional endurance race called the “Dragonball 24HR” (riffing on the Cannonball Run and the Gumball 3000, but more geeky). We even designed a logo for it, which you can find below on the left:

When choosing to do this challenge, it made sense to resurrect the monicker and pretend that we’re a part of a legendary and lucrative 24-hour race myself, for great justice. You can see the updated logo above, on the right.

So, the short answer is: “it doesn’t mean anything”; but the long answer is: “it means everything.”

  • What race track are you driving on?

This is the Circuit de la Sarthe, the 8.5-mile route around the Southern end of the town of Le Mans in central France. It’s a mix of purpose-built racetrack and public roads (which are closed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans event) and has been supporting motor races for around one hundred years.

  • What car are you driving?

Unfortunately, due to technical issues, it’s not possible to drive the Lola-Aston Martin DR1-2 Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) car which was mocked and stickered up in aid of this challenge (see screenshot below) – instead, we’ll be in a Toyota TS050 Hybrid from the 2016 World Endurance Championship.

The Toyota has a 2.4L twin-turbo petrol engine with an 8 MJ hybrid-electric system, which can be deployed for short bursts via a button on the steering wheel. And it is fast.

  • How far do you expect to get?

Based on my estimates, we’re likely to complete around 12 laps between each pit stop; meaning that we can cover (12 x 8.47 = 101 miles) and fuel back up every 45 minutes.

So, with a fair wind, we should be able to complete around 375 laps in 24 hours; or 3175 miles – that’s about the same distance as London to Boston as the crow flies. However, we’ll be tired and sleepy, and probably crash a lot, so you can’t rule anything out.

  • Do you have any sub-challenges?

We are aiming to:

  • Complete over 360 laps over the course of the race
  • Crash fewer than 24 times (i.e. less than one major inchident per hour)
  • Set a fastest lap better than 03:30.000
  • Not fall asleep at the wheel
  • Finish “not last” in the LMP1 class by the end of the race
  • Raise as much money as we can for HIOWAA

  • What are those logos on the car?

[Fictional]

  • Penistone Oils: A joke from the British version of Top Gear. When you cover up the last eight letters, it sort of spells a rude word… I’ll let you work that one out for yourselves.
  • JLB Credit: This is the fictional loan and credit company that Mark works for in the Channel 4 show, Peep Show. I watch a heck of a lot of Peep Show, so it made sense to include the brand here.
  • Larsen’s Biscuits: Another one from Top Gear – this time, if you cover up the “L” and “N’s” then the remaining letters spell “Arse Biscuits”, which is obviously funny.
  • Racing Sports Network: This is the sports channel that broadcasts motor racing in the Disney-Pixar movie, Cars. It made sense to nick a bunch of the fictional brands from the franchise, hence why you’ll also see Hostile Takeover Bank, Clutch Aid and the Piston Cup logo smattered around the bodywork.
  • Octan: A bit of a retro one here; it’s the fictional gas and oil company from LEGO City playsets from the mid-90s onwards. For some reason, it’s always stuck with me even though it’s not the most recognisable LEGO marque these days.
  • Xero Gas: Another fictional gas and oil company, this one is from the Grand Theft Auto series of video games; particularly GTA V.
  • Mr. Fusion: The Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor is the power source used by the Mark II DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future. BttF is one of the greatest films ever made, hence it’s appearance here.

[Real]

  • Nurofen: I strongly suspect that, after 24 hours of gaming, my head will be pretty sore and in need of some pain relief.
  • Rich Energy: Well, I couldn’t not include this one, could I? The whole saga is far too long to go into here, but suffice to say that it’s become a bit of a meme in the F1 world. I’m yet to actually track down a can of it but, if I can, then I will attempt to taste-test it during the livestream.
  • Haribo: I like sweets.
  • Michelin: The original Aston Martin DBR1-2 livery was already plastered with Michelin logos given that those were the tyres that it ran, and I was too lazy to photoshop them out. So, yeah.

  • Are you really sponsored by any of those brands?

Haha, no, of course not.

  • What steering wheel are you using?

It’s a Logitech G29 Driving Force wheel (with pedals). It’s towards the budget end of force-feedback steering wheels, but seems to suit me just fine.

FYI: I also have the Logitech G Driving Force Shifter but, since the Toyota TS050 Hybrid has a flappy-paddle system that we can control from the steering wheel, we don’t need to use it for this challenge.

  • What are those gloves that you’re wearing?

They are F33L IT SR2 sim racing gloves. You can buy them for yourself here: https://www.f33l.gg/shop/sr2-sim-racing-gloves-new (they didn’t pay me to say that, either).

Thank you for the donations and support so far – we still have a little way to meet the next target of £1000: if you are able to help us make it through this challenge by sparing a few bob for this fantastic cause, then that would be most excellent 😊❤


You can find more details, including links to donate towards the fundraising target, here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dragonball24-for-hiowaa

[Zinar7]

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6 Hours of Silverstone 2013: Part II

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A few weeks ago was the FIA/WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone, and after a week’s break while I’ve been away in Germany, I’m finally getting round to posting the second half of my best photos of the day. Hooray!

[Zinar7]

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6 Hours of Silverstone 2013: Part I

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Last Sunday was the FIA/WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone; opening race for the World Endurance Championship 2013, and the first major European outing for the Le Mans contenders. My camera and I headed up to Northamptonshire, and we had an awesome time; some of which is captured in the 45 or so (of a total of 1250) pictures that I’ve uploaded here. Anyway, without further ado, here are (the first half of) my photos from Sunday. Enjoy!

[Zinar7]

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Autosport 6 Hours of Silverstone 11/09/2011

A few shots from yesterday’s ILMC/LMS race at Silverstone:

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