Massachusetts Yankee at Le Mans

Episode 268

June 16, 2019

Turning 50 is incentive to go to 24 Hours of  Le Mans

I met Lou Masciarelli at the 2017 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona when the fans were allowed onto the tri-oval grass just before the start of the race. I am unsure exactly how we met in that crowd of thousands of race fans. I am glad I did.

A view of the tri-oval grass area at the start of the 2017 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Prior to the race, IMSA allows fans to walk the grid aa well as Jason Griffeth’s beautifully manicured turf. This is where I met Lou. (Daytona International Speedway photo)

Turns out that Lou, a customer support engineer at Exagrids Systems, is an International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and endurance race fan through and through. When we met he mentioned that he had attended multiple IMSA races and loved how that organization treated their race fans.

He commented that the endurance racers are fan friendly and typically willing to give interested fans a few moments of their busy race weekend time to converse.

In past episodes I have used Lou’s photos including this one of the fireworks and Ferris wheel at the Daytona race at midnight during the 2018 race. Lou commented that he slept 90 minutes at the Daytona 24 Hour race and slacked off at Le Mans with 3 hours of rest. (Lou Masciarelli photo)

Lou travels from his Bellingham, Massachusetts home to several races every year. Masciarelli told me “I’ve been to five Daytona 24 Hour races and five Sebring 12 Hour races and always wanted to do Le Mans. I have friends that live in the UK that go every year so I tagged along.”

“Plus I will do Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans, and Watkins Glen all in the same year. Kinda cool milestone. I turned 50 last week so it seemed serendipitous.”

Entry point for the Circuit Le Mans de La Sarthe, the site of the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 1923. Le Mans is often called one leg of motorsports triple crown; Indy 500, Monaco Grand Prix, and 24 Hours of Le Mans. (Lou Masciarelli photo)

Lou and his two friends living in the UK, David Edwards and David Ralli, spent their time at Le Mans exploring the 8.467 mile race track, which employs sections of the public roads which are shut down for the duration of the event. They camped at the Porsche Curve where the Corvette # 64 crashed heavily enough to be withdrawn from the race finishing 59 out of 61 starters.

Mission H24 occupied Garage 56 which is reserved for experimental cars. H24 was a joint venture between GreenGT and the Automobile Club de L’Ouest (ACO) to promote zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell technology. (Lou Masciarelli photo)

Entering the Circuit de Karting Alain Prost near Le Mans. Of course Masciarelli had to try it out. (Lou Masciarelli photo)

Before the race the cars were on grid preparing for a rolling start at Le Mans. Several years ago drivers would park their cars diagonally on one side of the track and when the starter’s gun would go off , sprint across the track, jump into the car, and start it all the while buckling their seat belts. The #8 Toyota TS-050-Hybrid won the race beating their Toyota Gazoo racing team mates by 16.97 seconds. The third place car was six laps in arrear. (Lou Masciarelli photo)

Looking out on the start/finish area of Le Mans circuit. Lou commented “This track is like no place else. Image if you took all the crowd, vendors, food, and pageantry from Indy and stuck them at Daytona for all 24 hours.Also has the feel of Montreal since part of the track is public roads”. (Lou Masciarelli photo)

Lou at the finish line after the race. The winners spray champagne upon each other and the crowd below the podium. The champagne shower is a tradition started by Dan Gurney in 1967 when he and AJ Foyt won. The winning Toyota covered 385 laps in 24 hours or about 3,260 miles (5215 kilometers). The Pro class winner was the AF Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE EVO thus ensuring that the enthusiastic Ferrari fans made the finish area festive. (Lou Masciarelli photo)

Back home in Massachusetts, Lou races autocross events in his area, primarily Moore Army Airfield at Fort Devins located in Ayer, Massachusetts. He has two cars, a BMW M3 and a Mazda Miata. He shares the Miata with his 17 year-old son who is at the wheel in the photo. David is a junior in high school and recently earned his driver’s license. Lou said that his son has competed in three autocrosses this year and in this event he placed 4th in the Novice class in the Miata. (Lou Masciarelli photo)

Northern Maine Soap Box Derby winners announced

As reported in Episode 266 on June 2nd, the Northern Maine Soap Box Derby was held June 16 at Derby Hill located in the Houlton Community Park. Over 40 entries participated according to race officials. The weather was very cooperative.

2019 Stock class winner at the Northern Maine Soap Box Derby in Houlton was Houlton resident Meagan Peters. (Photo courtesy Northern Maine Soap Box Derby)

The 2019 Northern Maine Soap Box Derby Super Stock class was won by another Houlton resident, Matt Conley. (Northern Maine Soap Box Derby photo)

Kody Swanson finishes second; holds onto 6 point lead

Podium finishers at the USAC Silver Crown race at Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Left to right runner-up Kody Swanson, race winner Brady Bacon, and third place Justin Grant. The USAC Silver Crown race was Bacon’s first. It was a wild green white checkered finish. ( Ty Garl photo)

The 100 lap feature came down to the last laps when second place Chris Windom punted leader Steve Buckwalter with one to go causing Buckwalter to spin bringing out the caution flag. Windom was the new leader, however, in the process of hitting Buckwalter, Windom punctured a tire which deflated on first turn of the one lap shoot-out handing the win to Brady Bacon who held off the hard charging Swanson for the win.

Note the bald right rear Hoosier post race at Williams Grove Speedway. Not a lot of laps were left in that tire. (Mark Swanson photo)

After the race Silver Crown points leader Swanson said, “This was certainly a tough day, but for all that we went through to escape with a second-place finish is
something we’ll take. I have been under the weather today, and this
team worked really hard today too.”

“We are still battling the brake issues that plagued us at the
Hoosier Hundred, and did whatever we could to fix them, but unfortunately they still played a factor in the feature tonight. Without being able to be confident entering
each corner, I had to really be conservative in traffic to make sure I took good care of myself and the competitors around me and not put
us in a bad position.”

“Ultimately we survived that and a few other hurdles to be in a position to win in the end, but I just couldn’t make the pass for the lead stick in Turn 1. I had to commit to
Buckwalter’s inside, and was pumping the brakes for all I was
worth, but just slid out enough for him to get back by and eventually
force us back to the fifth position.

“I felt like it was a chance I had to take to try to win the race for this
team, and am disappointed that I didn’t execute well enough in that
instance to finish it for them.”

“We never gave up, and did our best to get back up there, so to
come home with a second-place finish is still a little bittersweet. I am
proud of the effort that everyone put in on this team today, and do
look forward to our next chance to try again.”

Swanson will get that chance to try to win June 28 at Madison International Speedway, Oregon, Wisconsin in the ByTec “Dairyland 100”.

NMKA Season Opener Presented by Pat’s Automotive

The Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) 2019 eight event, 10 race season got underway Saturday at Spud Speedway, Caribou, Maine. Attendance was light with several racers away at end of school family events.

NMKA Season Opener Presented by Pat’s Automotive left to right, Aroostook Trusses Junior Cage Kart winner Gage Theriault, Limestone, winner of Aroostook Savings and Loan Senior Cage Kart Tom Hale, Westmanland and making his karting debut second place Kyle Wells, Caribou. Next race is the Burger Boy Race June 29. (HTF Motorsports photo)

Rusty Wallace Driving Experience postponed

Due to rainy weather, the Rusty Wallace Driving Experience at Spud Speedway was postponed to Thursday September 26, 2019. All pre-purchased tickets will be honored and more room is available for those wishing to drive a super late-model at Spud Speedway.

Note the revised date for the Rusty Wallace Driving Experience. (Brent Rafford photo)

Let’s go racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria (Joshua 1:9)



Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing. He races Champ Karts and owns HTF Motorsports in remote Westmanland, Maine