This year I've written at length about the Delta Wing project. Last month the team reached their goal of racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mons, and did very well. The car performed as advertised and was putting in competitive lap times until it was forced off the road due to a racing incident.
At Le Mans, a driver is allowed to try and fix a broken car, but is not permitted to receive direct outside aid. So the driver is the only person allowed to touch the car in the process of fixing it, but can be coached by other people from the team. The tools used to fix the car have to be carried in the car, and no outside spare parts can be used. If you're able to drive your disabled car back to the garage, the entire team can then go to work on it. Because of these rules, and due to the extreme time duration of the race, there's an imperative for drivers to do whatever they can to nurse a car back to health.
At the time the Delta Wing was shunted off the rack, it was being driven by Satoshi Mototyama. The video above is an edited account of the 90 minutes Motoyama spent trying to get the broken Delta Wing in good enough condition to limp back to the garage. Through much of the video, he's being coached by his team of engineers and mechanics standing on the other side of a chain-link fence. Bear in mind that while he's doing this, it's hot and humid outside, he's wearing several layers of fireproof underwear below a nomex firesuit, and extremely loud race cars are constantly zooming by. And, he's wearing his racing helmet; it's remarkable how much vision a race helmet blocks out. When I last wore mine in an unfamiliar car, it kept me from being able to see my own seat belt harness, which made it hard to get out when I wanted to!
As you can see from the video, it didn't work. Even after 90 minutes of trying just about everything, nothing worked. And yet, I find Motoyama's efforts deeply inspiring. He tried like hell. He put everything into trying to win. As a person who believes in the power of putting in as much as you can when the chips are down, I find his courage and tenacitiy utterly inspiring.
While I'm sad that the grand Delta Wing Le Mans adventure ended this way, his conduct made it a noble ending. Tenacity really matters, and in another place, it could have worked out for Motoyama. Possessing the grit to see things out, that's a true gift, and it's one you want to see in everyone trying to bring something remarkable to life.