The World of WEC: A Beginner’s Guide to Endurance Racing
Next fall, the FIA World Endurance Championship, or WEC, will be returning to Circuit of The Americas for the 2024 Lone Star Le Mans. This will be the sixth round of the 2024 WEC season and will feature the only race located in North America.
Endurance racing is unique from other motorsport events held at COTA. Unlike typical racing formats where drivers attempt to race a pre-determined distance over the fastest time period, endurance racing is flipped. During WEC races, drivers have a preset amount of time to drive the longest distance possible. These events are designed to test the durability of both the equipment and the people behind the wheel.
The 2024 FIA WEC season will host eight rounds across the world, with race durations ranging from six to 24 hours long. The most famous race in the series is 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the tenets of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, which also includes the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix. Lone Star Le Mans brings the spirit of that race to Austin, where drivers will compete for six hours to finish the most laps during the race.
Racing at hundreds of miles per hour for six hours is a tough test for any single driver to complete alone, so WEC allows teams to divide the race into “stints” between up to three drivers per car to compete. A single “stint” usually lasts until the car has used up a full fuel tank, or 45 minutes to one hour. The strategy of when to switch fatigued drivers is extremely consequential in a race of razor thin margins.
Another unique aspect of the endurance series is the variation of the types of cars allowed to race. Models can range from hypercars (top-tier prototype cars representing the pinnacle of endurance motorsport) to GTE-Am cars (modified luxury cars to fit the standard on a racetrack). Typically, the cars are entered with professional drivers by renowned manufacturers, such as Ferrari, Porsche, and Cadillac, but others are entered independently and are manufactured and driven by amateurs.
Even with all the variation in make and model, the field is always competitive. Drivers and manufacturers must carefully manage the balance between speed and efficiency, and one small miscalculation could be the difference between a celebratory podium finish and race-ending damage. This race will be packed with six hours of drama, and it will be one you will not want to miss.
Buy tickets for the 2024 Lone Star Le Mans on the COTA website.