It’s been 2 weeks since the end of the 24 hour race. In Japan, the steamy monsoon season ends in another 2-3 weeks, to welcome the full-fledged Summer reaching over 30 degrees C every day. Looking at the calendar, I notice that today is Friday, and the time is 2PM. With the time difference to Germany, exactly 2 weeks ago about this time, we were frantically repairing the car to make it into the Top 30 qualifier session.
The Freshmen who were running busily around the track, lounge, supermarket, hotel and paddocks are now back to their daily lives. Seeing them working in an office where the only sounds are the air conditioning, keyboards and mouse clicks with an occasional conversation or two, makes the days of roaring racing cars from dawn to dusk and the loud warning siren of the pit lane seem like a distant memory from a very long time ago.
To some it was their first racing experience, and their first overseas outing, and I was curious about what they saw through their eyes, what they thought. So the last of the Freshman series I’d like to close with their comments after the race, along with an image they captured through their own eyes.
Marina Ishioka (Car Modeling Team):
This year I participated as a member of the Nürburgring 24 hour race support team for the first time, and was sort of shocked by the real racing environment. On one hand there’s the pilot driving face to face with death, the mechanics always intensely working, the tension in the pit box; and then on the other hand, the jolly campers outside the track are partying in a really friendly atmosphere.
As a member of the hospitality division of the support team, all I could do was to do my best to help and provide, and pray that the drivers would return safely.
The day after we arrived, I learned the speed, the fear, and the joy of going around the north loop of the Nürburgring in a passenger ride with Yamauchi san driving. I think that experience brought me a little closer to the world of racing.
Mizuki Kitajima (Landscape Design Team):
I had been to a few tracks for data capture sessions before, but this was my first time in a circuit during a full race. I was first surprised by how busy everything was. In the camp site, there were tents from many days before the start of the race, with people playing music really loudly as they barbequed, sunbathed, etc. They seemed more like festival goers rather than race spectators. On the other hand the drivers and mechanics are in a true life or death battle, really putting their life on the line. The contrast left an impression in my mind.
The time at the race was rich, with as many stories of drama as there are people there, happening simultaneously in various places. It seemed like everyone there was a part of this race somehow.
And when I imagined recreating more of these scenes of drama, something equal to that of this Nürburgring 24 hour race; the ways to enjoy it, the scenes here that make your heart race, etc., and recreating more of this in GT, it brought up a lot of things we’d need to do, making our work from here on even more interesting.
And something else that I felt through our stay at the Nürburgring, is how much Gran Turismo is loved by so many people. Actually seeing so many GT fans made me full of thanks. At the same time, I felt joy and responsibility for my work, and it gave me strength and energy.
Shogo Takemoto (Car Modeling Team):
The night race was really impressive. In the pitch black mountain, there was just the sound of the cars, and I remember reconfirming an obvious fact to myself that “wow, they really drive 24 hours”, and it moved me for some reason.
After the race started, the tension and lack of sleep was rough at times, but after it was done it was not a big deal, and everything became a fun memory.
Takaaki Kumagai (Car Modeling Team):
At the Nürburgring, a lot of people were racing in so many different ways. Those who kept driving, side by side with danger. Those who worked throughout the night, to fix a car that was heavily damaged in an accident. Those who drank all night long to watch the race. The way they took part were all different, but of the great number of people here, I felt that it’s the power of these people that drive the cars and drives the scene.
And Yamauchi san said in the end, “This trip is a gift to all of you, if you take back even one thing you felt here, that in itself makes this all worthwhile.” I’d like to make that gift my strength, and apply it to my work in the future.
So there you have it, 4 representatives of the freshman team. What they saw and felt through the Nürburgring 24 hour race will undoubtedly become an asset for the future of Gran Turismo.
And lastly, a picture from me:
This was taken about an hour before the end of the long 24 hour race. Even with only 6 or 7 laps remaining, there were still teams retiring out of the race due to accidents and other problems.
In our pit, the team members of Schulze Motorsports consisting of German and Japanese staff stared at the monitors, praying for the safe return of Jordan Tresson, who was ranked highest among other French drivers in the race.