McMurry Set To Be Youngest Gun Ever At Le Mans
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Matt McMurry didn’t need to take even a small breath when asked if there have been any other people close to his age who have driven in the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Not content to give a yes or no answer, 15-year-old McMurry started naming names.
The names of Gunnar Jeannette, Alexander Wurz and Ricardo Rodriguez – especially that of Rodriguez –flew off McMurry’s tongue rapid fire. As did the dates they first drove at Le Mans. As did the ages they were at the time. As did the type of machinery they drove.
How, um, interesting, he was told.
“I guess I’m going to get a lot of attention so it’s good to know the stats,” McMurry said.
His junior high school history teacher must be very proud.
That was a week ago in the media center at Kansas Speedway where he was getting in one last Tudor United SportsCar Championship race stateside before heading off to scrutineering and qualifying in France.
This week, McMurry, as forecast, did get a lot of attention: A Google search turns up a sizable number of stories on a wide variety of websites for McMurry and the fact that he will break Rodriguez’s record for being the youngest driver to start the famed 24-hour race.
McMurry will drive a Zytek Z11SN Nissan LMP2 prototype fielded by Greaves Motorsport
at Le Mans this weekend. He will team with two proven sports car wheelmen in Chris Dyson and Tom Kimber-Smith.
He’ll be on the 8.47-mile circuit which incorporates long sections of rural French roads with some of the most famous turns and straightways in racing.
Also on the circuit will be much faster Le Mans Prototypes and much slower GT cars. He’ll be racing against true giants in sports car racing and true “Gentleman” drivers who will be there simply because they can afford to be.
He’ll race during the day, probably at night and potentially in the rain.
If McMurry, who will be in the 10th grade this fall, is being pounded by any or all of those situations, he wasn’t showing a spec of stress during the Tudor weekend at Kansas Speedway.
He sat lamp post straight in his media center chair as he talked about his past, present and future in sports car racing: One of his classes at Brophy College Prep in Phoenix must have been in keeping one’s cool.
“I’ve been so busy the last three years with school and everything and I’ve done a ton of work for that,” he said. “So, for me, it has always been about taking it one thing at a time.”
“Being over taken (being passed) by the big boys,” McMurry said calmly after being asked if he has any concerns at all about racing at Le Mans.
He’s not frightened by that, he quickly says. It’s just that it will be one of his big challenges. Besides, he said, he’s encountered it a number of times – on computer screens.
“Like I was coming out of Mulsanne and the lights (of a car behind him) were way back,” McMurry says. “And then, whoa! He’s right there.”
Not all of McMurry’s prepatory work has been done at Brophy or on a computer. He’s raced in Tudor races in the United States at places like Sebring and Daytona, and also in the European Le Mans Series at places like Silverstone and Imola. Done pretty well too – fourth at those historic European tracks.
But, he said he is fully aware that, “This is Le Mans.”
“It’s such a nice track,” McMurry said. “It’s beautiful around there, like Road America. Going down to Indianapolis (Corner), there are trees all around you. That will be cool, seeing all that, as the sun goes up and down. Going down into Indianapolis as the sun’s coming up.”
It all started for McMurry when one of his teachers issued him the assignment to list long- terms goals. McMurry wrote about racing at Le Mans, where his father, Chris, competed in 2003 and 2008.
“I’ve been working on this since the seventh grade,” he said.
And that was as three whole years ago.
Wonder what historic feat he’ll be working on next year – when he’s a junior in high school.
McMurry may be the youngest Yank on the Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend, but he will not be the only one.
Among other Americans driving in the 24 will be:
– Ricky and Jordan Taylor. The brothers drive for Wayne Taylor Racing in the Tudor
series. At Le Mans, Ricky will co-drive the No. 50 Larbre Competition Morgan Judd in LMP2 while brother Jordan will be in the No. 73 Corvette C7.R.
– Tommy Milner shares the No. 74 Corvette C7.R. Milner is a former class winner at Le Mans.
– In GTE-Am, Tracy Krohn will co-drive the No. 57 Ferrari F458 Italia.
– Peter Ashley Mann and Howard Blank are entered in GTE-Am Ferrari F458 Italias.
– Seth Neiman and Spencer Pumpelly of the Flying Lizards Tudor team are two of the three drivers in the GTE-Am No. 66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia.
– Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster and Patrick Long of Tudor’s Dempsey Racing Dempsey Racing will pilot the GTE-Am Proton Competition Porsche 911.
– Cooper MacNeil and Bret Curtis will co-drive the WeatherTech-backed Proton Competition Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in GTE-Am.
– Tudor driver Frankie Montecalvo will drive the 8Star Motorsports’ Ferrari F458 Italia.
While Audi and Peugeot have dominated the LMP1 portion of Le Mans over the last decade, two other marques will be in the spotlight this weekend
– Toyota. The Japanese car company took the top two spots at Silverstone in April and then won at Spa in May. Stephane Sarrazin shares Toyota No. 7 TS 040 with Kazuki Nakajima and Alexander Wurz. The only Japanese manufacturer to win at Le Mans was Mazda in 1991. On Thursday, Nakajima became the first Japanese driver to set the fastest time in qualifying at Le Mans, clocking 3 minutes, 21.789 seconds on Thursday
– Porsche. The German powerhouse returns with its brand new 919 Hybrid. Porsche is the
most successful manufacturer at Le Mans with 16 titles, followed by Audi with 12. One of the effort’s driver will be former Australian Formula 1 ace Mark Webber. But it was car No. 14 of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb) that qualified on the front row, with Dumas Romain posting the fastest lap time (3min 22.146secs) in the final qualifying session.
Andreas Seidl, team principal for Porsche’s LMP1 effrot, said, “To me these grid positions are sensational and a great reward for two tough years. For the outside world it might be difficult to imagine how challenging it really was to build up everything from scratch, and we even managed these tricky qualifying situations here in Le Mans with all the interruptions pretty well. The qualifying result is a reward not only for the team here at the track, but also for the guys back home in Weissach.”
Good news for Americans came by way of Corvette.
Corvette Racing will start second and fourth Saturday in the GTE Pro class thanks to strong qualifying runs for its two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs. Antonio Garcia set a best time of 3:54.777 (129.867 mph) in the No. 73 Corvette C7.R and Oliver Gavin qualified the No. 74 Corvette C7.R fourth in class at 3:55.190 (129.618 mph) – encouraging starts for each of the two Corvette Racing entries.
“The Corvette Racing team had two solid evening sessions on track to qualify P2 and P4 in the GTE Pro class,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “It also was great to get the Corvette Racing drivers additional laps in the new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R at night. The whole team is fully focused on the race.”
Ways to watch Le Mans:
(Saturday, June 14-Sunday, June 15 – all times EDT)
• 8:30 a.m-4 p.m., Saturday (FOX Sports 1)
• 4-5 p.m., Saturday (FOX Sports 2)
• 5-6:30 p.m., Saturday (FOX Sports GO)
• 6:30 p.m., Saturday-1 a.m., Sunday (FOX Sports 2)
• 1-7:30 a.m., Sunday (FOX Sports 1)
• 7:30-9:30 a.m., Sunday (FOX Sports 2)
• Corvette Racing 24-Hour Live Stream (U.S. only)
• 9 a.m. Saturday-9 a.m. Sunday (FOXsports.com)
• Radio Le Mans will be available for the full race on Sirius channel 108 and XM channel 203 as well as the usual outlet http://radiolemans.com
• In car camera Corvette Racing No.’s 73 & 74 – http://msn.foxsports.com/speed/stream/corvette
• FB – Chevy Europe – https://www.facebook.com/ChevroletEurope Not sure how much Corvette will be posting but they are another option. https://www.facebook.com/corvette. And Team Chevy. https://www.facebook.com/TeamChevy
• Twitter – Official hashtag #LM24. https://twitter.com/corvetteracing
• Official Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/24hoursoflemans
• Team Chevy https://twitter.com/TeamChevy
• Instagram – Chevy Europe http://instagram.com/chevroleteurope
24 Hours of Le Mans http://instagram.com/24heuresdumans
Oliver Gavin http://instagram.com/olivergavin
Tommy Milner http://instagram.com/tommymilner
Jordan Taylor http://instagram.com/jordan10taylor
Richard Westbrook http://instagram.com/rikwestbrook
Team Chevy http://instagram.com/teamchevyNo Comment