3 Foolproof Ways to Get Yourself a Race Seat at Le Mans

Racing drivers are a rare breed, or so we’re lead to believe. Racing legends like Fangio, Moss and Senna aren’t treated like us mere mortals, they’re bestowed with godlike skills, sent to earth a few times a century to amaze us with their brilliance. It’s completely unfair.

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But fear not! There are ways in which you too could be strapping into a multi-million pound carbon fibre contraption, risking your life to drive as fast as possible around a racing circuit. Take your pick of one of these three easy methods, grab yourself a crash helmet and make sure to buy us a beer in the Speed Chills Members’ Club at Le Mans (we won’t settle for the muck they sell at the circuit).

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Method 1 - Be Really Good on the Playstation

Depending on how youthful you are (or feel) you might’ve grown up playing classic racing games such as Outrun, Micro Machines or Sega Rally Championship (in which we still hold the high score on the Portsmouth-Caen ferry if you think you’re good enough). Why not put those well-honed skills to task in something useful; beating thousands of other gamers to win the Nissan GT Academy Championship.

Grab yourself a Playstation, a steering wheel and a copy of Gran Turismo 5, play it religiously for a while (we’re talking spotty teenager levels of obsession here) and then sign up to Nissan’s programme of online tournaments. After a complicated selection process they choose twelve people from around the world to take part in the finals, competing in a gruelling series of real and virtual challenges to determine one eventual winner.

Here’s the best bit; that person gets to take part in the Dubai International 24 Hours, with a professional racing career that’s yours for the taking. Next year the first ever winner, Lucas Ordonez, will be driving for Greaves Motorsport in the ELMS and will take part in his third 24 Hours of Le Mans. In this year’s race he partnered the father-son team of Martin & Alex Brundle, finishing a respectable 8th in class, and was chosen to drive the Deltawing in the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta. Not bad considering he started on the sofa.

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Method 2 - Have Loads of Money

A fairly obvious one this; there’s a whole GT class reserved for gentlemen drivers at the 24 hours and F1 is rife with average drivers backed by massive sponsorship deals (coughNarainKarthikeyancough). But there’s an even quicker and cheaper way that you might not be aware of; all you need is a racing license and a bit of spare cash.

Oreca Technology, of Le Mans winning chassis fame, are offering any aspiring race drivers the opportunity to buy their way into the European Le Mans Series next year for the measly sum of £150,000. You’ll be taken to each of the five rounds of the ELMS (Silverstone, Imola, Red Bull Ring, Hungaroring and Paul Ricard) where you’ll participate in the LMPC class; racing at just-sub-LMP2 speeds.

To top that, if you win the category then you get an invite to participate in the LM24 in 2014. Don’t worry if you don’t win though, you still get to take part in the traditional test day, and you can at least enjoy the race from the Speed Chills bar.

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Method 3 - Have Massive Racing Talent

Oh alright, maybe this is the most ‘legitimate’ way to foster your racing career but to our minds it’s also the most difficult, especially if you’re not 8 and don’t have access to the funds necessary to forge your way through karting. This is how most of the greats start off in the sport, wheel to tiny wheel with other budding race superstars while their pushy parents shout at them to go faster.

Then there’s the year-on-year drudgery of making your way through the various formulas, making difficult decisions about your career path and enduring endless worry about whether you’ll be fast enough to earn a life-changing seat at a mediocre racing team. Personally, we can’t be bothered.

Which will you choose then? Are you willing to spend months of your life superglued to a television, combating tunnel vision and RSI, or are you more tempted by simply digging 150 grand out of the back of the sofa and buying your way to fame? Or will you do it the proper way and work hard for year upon year to earn a slim chance of racing on the world’s stage?

But it does show that we all have a chance at being able to barrel round Le Mans in a top-spec prototype, however slim it might be. And hey, no worry if you don’t make it, just come and have a beer with us and watch it on the big screen, no effort required.

Jamie Snelling is a freelance motorsports journalist and 6-time Speed Chills veteran.