Le Mans week always starts out quietly, which is nice considering we come straight for the race from an IndyCar race in Texas.
Once you get to scrutineering, though, it is not so quiet and it only gets busier from there!
If you’ve never been to scrutineering, let me describe it for you.
Instead of going through tech at the racetrack, we go through tech (or scrutineering) in the center of the city of Le Mans!
Fans and people who live there come out and line the streets as our cars roll down the road for the official tech checks for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
As drivers, our job is to present our license, fire suit and the rest of our equipment for inspection.
After that, there are always media waiting to talk with us. It is difficult to walk through the streets, it is that crowded!
I am from Le Mans, raced my first karts here, so it is especially good for me to see so many people waiting just to see us and our cars.
The fans in Le Mans are very enthusiastic and I always have so many people to say hi to. We sign as many autographs as we can.
It is good to be home. My wife and I still have a home here and we welcome the race crew and other drivers over for a team dinner while we are here. It is very nice to sleep in my own bed during such a busy week.
Today we had our driver and team manager meeting and official driver photo for this year’s race.
This is always a good time to say hello to drivers you haven’t seen in a while. I also went for a drive in a new Ford Mustang with my friend and writer Stéphane Barbé from L’Equipe, a French newspaper.
He wanted to know about my memories with the Mustang, and I have some good ones.
I competed with Ford engines in my Champ Car championship days with Newman-Haas, so I had a Mustang company car. It was before my wife Claire and I had kids, so we would go to the beach or do something else for fun every weekend I was home.
In 2004, I won the championship and a Mustang as part of my prize. I gave it to my engineer, because it was his dream car. He still has it. He still sends me pictures of it from time to time.
A friend of mine has organized a car show honoring the Ford GT on the Mulsanne Straight tonight, so of course I will go to that.
After our official photo, we took photos for IMSA and Ford. As you can see, we had an entourage following us wherever we go.
I know many of the media here and it’s good to see them when we come back to Le Mans. I wasn’t able to race here last year after my accident during qualifying for the Indy 500, so they all want to know what it’s like to be back.
I’m happy to be back to normal this year!