For racing enthusiasts, next week (and specifically October 16-19) marks a special time, as the 2013 Petit le Mans, sponsored by Mazda, will be put on at Road Atlanta. This event marks the conclusion of the American Le Mans Series, and is always good for a few thrilling moments to say the least, despite the event’s relatively “small” status compared to major racing industries like F1 and Nascar.
For those unfamiliar with the American Le Mans Series, it’s essentially a set of endurance sports car races with a surprisingly broad fan base. If you turn on ESPN, where Nascar and occasionally other racing events are shown on a regular basis, on a summer saturday afternoon, you won’t find any Le Mans Series races being broadcast. If you browse through BetFair online, where sports betting odds are given not just for popular international sports, but specifically for various racing leagues and industries, you won’t find odds for the upcoming Petit Le Mans. But if you talk to a fan or browse the series online, you’ll find no shortage of passionate accounts and memories in relation to this thrilling event.
So in the spirit of celebrating these accounts and memories, and in anticipation of the upcoming Petit Le Mans, here’s our countdown of the top-5 moments in the history of the event!
5. The Other Backflip
At #2 on our countdown you’ll see a very famous incident. But as noted at roadatlanta.com, this “other” backflip which fewer people seem to remember, was still an extreme moment. Bill Auberlen, driving a BMW at the 2000 event, escaped unscathed from a total backflip coming off a hill.
4. Peugeot’s Last Ride
This wasn’t necessarily a single thrilling moment, but a victory at the race in 2011 for Peugeot, in the company’s last run in the event, was certainly poetic.
3. Corvette Tops Ferrari
A thrilling duel in 2002 was arguably some of the best actual racing we’ve seen at Road Atlanta, with Corvette edging Ferrari for a dramatic, and to many surprising, win.
2. The Backflip
This incident, in 1998, was horrifying but undeniably thrilling and memorable. If you don’t recall, watch the YouTube video to see a Porsche 911’s stunning backflip in mid-race. And yes, the driver (Yannick Dalmas) survived.
1. 2007’s Close Finish
This was perhaps the most closely contested race in the history of the event, with an Audi (driven by the pair of Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish) and a Porsche (Romain Dumas, Patrick Long, and Timo Bernhard) neck and neck for what seemed like the entire contest. The Audi won out in the end – by less than a second.