Motul Petit Le Mans: A night to shine

Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Motul Petit Le Mans: A night to shine

As the final race in the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Motul Petit Le Mans returns to its customary slot in the season order. But just like in the past two seasons, there’s a twist: the race takes place more than a month later than its typical first Saturday in October date. The 24th edition of Motul Petit Le Mans takes place this year from Nov. 10-13, which is likely to add an extra nuance to this 10-hour endurance racing classic.

Most significantly, the November date means that the sun will set some 90 minutes earlier than previously, meaning that the ratio of racing in the light and dark will now be closer to 50/50. It also means slightly cooler temperatures. Historically the average high for early October is 77 degrees, but by mid-November it’s closer to 69 degrees.

For fans, it means a very comfortable afternoon of enjoying the many great spots around Georgia’s scenic and challenging Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta to watch the race, and good reason to settle in under a cozy blanket for the always spectacular conclusion followed by a dazzling fireworks display. But what does it mean for the drivers and teams?

“With cooler temps and more night running, you will have to ensure you have the best possible car for the evening when it really counts,” says Dane Cameron, driver of the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian Acura ARX-05 DPi. “You always see some changes between who has the best car in the heat of the day versus the night.

“Petit Le Mans is always a really tough race to close the championship on; an endurance race at one of the highest-risk tracks of the year. I think the approach is always to go big. It’s a race you want to win, and you want to control your own destiny.”

(TOP) During the 10 exciting hours of Motul Petit Le Mans, the action in the pits can be just as frenetic as out on the track. (ABOVE) The pre-race Fan Walk is an incredible opportunity to get up close with the cars and stars.

What the move to November doesn’t change are the rest of the traditions and attractions that make Motul Petit Le Mans a great fan experience. The event is still spread over four days of on-track activity, including the ever-popular Thursday night practice, where fans are guaranteed to see every car and driver in the field turn at least a few laps. There’s also a multitude of spots to park an RV or pitch a tent to become an indelible part of the festival atmosphere that’s a signature of the event. Plus, there are car corrals, a kids zone, amazing manufacturer displays, and an open paddock to engage with in the lulls between on-track sessions – not that there’s too many of those.

The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series’ FOX Factory 120, showcasing an array of the best production sports cars on the planet, takes place on Friday afternoon to wrap up its 2021 season. If that’s not enough racing, the IMSA Prototype Challenge, Porsche Carrera Cup North America and the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich fill the dance card, ensuring that there’s virtually always great on-track action to enjoy.

Tickets start at just $50, with several options to choose from, and kids 12 and under are free. To purchase yours and get more information, check out roadatlanta.com.

Event calendar:

Wednesday, Nov. 10
A great day to get up close with teams and drivers as they load in. Track action kicks off with practice for the Michelin Pilot Challenge, along with practice and qualifying sessions for the Porsche Carrera Cup and the Mazda MX-5 Cup.

Thursday, Nov. 11
The first chance to see the cars of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on track for their practice sessions, while Michelin Pilot Challenge (BELOW) holds its qualifying later in the afternoon. Mazda MX-5 Cup and Porsche Carrera Cup stage the first of their two races. Stick around for the always spectacular WeatherTech Championship night practice. Friday, Nov. 12
Race day for IMSA Prototype Challenge, MX-5 Cup and Porsche Carrera Cup, culminating with the Michelin Pilot Challenge FOX Factory 120 at 1:10pm. The day concludes with qualifying for Motul
Petit Le Mans, beginning at 3:45pm.

Saturday, Nov. 13
The 24th Motul Petit Le Mans take the green flag for 10 hours of racing at 12:10pm. Fans can enjoy the sights and atmosphere of the open-grid Fan Walk presented by Hagerty from 10:50am to 11:50am.

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