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Live in the booth - Radio Le Mans

As they prepare for race week, Prescott Motorsport grabbed a few minutes ‘in the booth’ with Radio Le Mans John ‘Hindy’ Hindhaugh, Shea Adam and ‘Brilliant Bob’.

Hindy came to his first Le Mans in 1989 and has not looked back since! He and his superb team will provide somewhere in the region of 28 hours straight through uninterrupted live coverage of the race, and that doesn’t include practice, qualifying and warm up sessions!

We asked what the biggest change was he had seen since he started with RLM?

The internet! When we started in ‘89 it was just on FM with roughly 130,000 listeners. But by putting RLM on the internet in ‘97 I think we got 500,000 listeners that year, and that was dial up internet back in those days! We blagged some server space from some guys that worked in the City, we only had it on for the race. Porsche, who celebrated their 70th anniversary yesterday (9th June), paid for the ISDN line to get the audio back to London and that was how we did it… basically, by word of mouth we got 500,000 listeners! What the internet has given us now, and particularly with the advancement of smartphones, is the opportunity effectively to be a global radio station!

This year, is hoping for somewhere near 10m visits in race week alone, so that will tell you how much it’s come on!

We continue to be the biggest single broadcaster for live content from the track - we do more hours, we do the longest broadcast of anybody else and, the biggest difference we have is, we are not ‘geo blocked’, we are not platform specific and it’s absolutely free, both here at the track on 91.2FM and around the world on RS1 and RS3 - once we start broadcasting we just keep going… And everything from practice sessions right through to full race coverage goes out on Sirius FM in the United States, so it’s an extraordinary thing that it’s morphed into since 1989!

You started doing a bit of racing yourself, does that assist you with your commentary?

Absolutely, I think it’s essential. I’m asked all the time to make snap decisions about other peoples driving talent, or lack thereof, or at least their decision making. I first started racing in 1996, I did a couple of Ford Fiesta races when I was running ToCA Radio and that was tremendously illuminating. Racing with people like Aston Martin in one of their GT4 cars at last years 24 Hours at COTA, it’s extremely informative for what I do. I also did a couple of Ginetta races a few year ago. Just being in that environment, when all your senses have to be so highly charged, so highly focused, because it’s not just what you can see, you almost sense/smell people alongside you, you use all of that. When we see on board pictures I’m looking to see what his hands are doing, what flags are being shown, what you can, or can’t, see from the drivers seat…

It’s a fantastic environment, I never say that I’m a racing driver, I’m somebody who is fortunate enough to drive racing cars and sometimes I get entered into races – although I’m not sure I even actually race, I’m just there trying to keep out of everybody’s way! But it’s very informative, it gives me an even bigger appreciation and respect for the guys that do this full time, and do it very well!

Which racing broadcasts stand out for you?

It will be the last one or the next one probably! Obviously the year we tragically lost Allan Simonsen here, that sticks in the memory, for some of the wrong reasons, but also how the whole community pulled together, and for what a fantastic race it was. And for how respectful Porsche were when they won the GT category… the Toyota grinding to a halt, that’s all recent stuff but if you go back further…

JJ Lehto in the rain here in 1995 when took laps back of everybody – no one ever saw it unless you were trackside as that was in the days when the television cameras stopped broadcasting during the night, but we had people with walk talkies down at Mulsanne and Arnarge and Dunlop Curves and they were reporting in to us… that was an extraordinary drive. The Bentley win in ’03 with Guy Smith bringing the car home, that’s the sort of thing you remember.

But also other things, Lord Drayson getting the car home after trying so many times, McNish’s accident when he went into the barriers again, for the wrong reasons, but those sort of things are always fresh in the memory when you come back to this place.

The moment I arrived on Friday, the first thing I did was drive around the track, and immediately it comes back to life again, all the memories come flooding back, if you close your eyes and squint little bit you can see all that history! We’ve had some great races away from here also… Bathurst, Dubai 24 Hours, any amount of IMSA races throughout the years!

With more than 3,000 hours of live broadcasting in 2017 from circuits around the globe, it’s no wonder Hindy’s brain is unable to store everything away, unlike that of ‘Trussers’ (Paul Truswell)… he’s wired a bit differently, I’m running out of space!

As many of you know, John is ably assisted by a fantastic team of both studio and pit lane reporters, one of those being Shea Adam aka GearBoxGirl! Shea has already invested about 50 hours doing research for this year’s race, ‘It’s not necessary, it’s just something I do!

Shea, have you ever worked out how far you walk during your pit lane reporting?

Yes! During Detroit last weekend, for example, I walked 11 miles, so during the 24 hour race I will walk somewhere in the region of 26 miles! I wear my fitbit and always a good pair of sneakers – they make a huge difference! The pit lane is split into half, with 5 of us covering it during the race with 90 minute slots, Eve (Hewitt) works out a nice rotation for us… it’s a lot of fun!

What attracted you to being a pit lane reporter?

John and Eve – John and my Dad did commentary for a long time together, they came to my house one day and within five minutes they said ‘Have you ever considered doing pit lane reporting’... I was like no but that sounds like fun… if you want a shot at it we will fly you to Le Mans (’12) and sink or swim… and here I am!

What’s been your most entertaining interview?

Man that’s a good one! I can’t pick out one interview specifically, but there are certain people you like talking to more than others. There are drivers who will be brutally honest with you, and then there are ones who will just feed you company lines, normally you can tell who I like to talk to more as I go back to them. Brian Sellers is always great because he will tell you the truth, he’s not someone who whinges, but my first ever interview was Dindo Capello where I asked him if he was retiring and he gave me an answer so that has to go down as one.

What has been your most forgettable moment?

Anytime I slip up on air, anytime I say something that’s wrong. But I don’t forget it, I work to make sure that it never happens again! I haven’t fallen flat on my face yet (knock on wood) but yeah, for example last year at scrutineering I was interviewing Sam Bird and I said something about ‘This is your third Le Mans and he went This is your fourth Le Mans’, but I wasn’t starting over again, I went ‘Four, oh you’ve done four already’ - I work really hard to learn my stuff so anytime I make a mistake like that I want to crawl in a little hole and make sure it doesn’t happen again!

It’s not only those trackside, or at home, who listen to Radio Le Mans coverage during race week - often you’ll hear the unmistakable voice of Hindy (no one says Risi Competizione quite like he does) or another of the team coming from someone’s laptop in the Media Centre, or from some headphones in a pit garage… none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for ‘Brilliant Bob’ and others like him that put RLM on air.

Some of Bobs cables!

Roughly, how long does it take to set up RLM?

Well there’s a question! Normally it’s about two and half days, if we have time, less and it’s a rush job! There you would get the essentials in and then add to it!

How much kit do you bring?

Our kit fits in a van, a very full van! There’s a lot more things I’d like to bring but you have to put a limit on it, and there is also the studio side of it back in London, so you can limit what you need to bring as you can send stuff back to London and they can work on it.

The live broadcast, does that come live from here or via London?

The broadcast is live from here unless we are ‘playing in’ something from London - we can play in jingles from London or we can play them in from here, but the actual on site interviews goes straight out on FM on our stream from here. All our presenters are all here.

What’s the worst possible scenario you are faced with? A power cut?

No, it’s lightening, which would be todays issue. We have to go and put up the FM transmitter on the roof of the ACO tribune and they are forecasting thunderstorms for the next two days… if there is the chance of lightening we will be abandoning that - you really don’t want anything connected to it, that’s a once in a lifetime experience I think!!!

So there you have it, just a little insight into Radio Le Mans. I’ve spent many years listening to Radio Le Mans, the other half of Prescott Motorsport… even longer!

To tune in go to either of the following (you’ll be missing out if you don’t!):

Radio 91.2 FM around the circuit

And when tweeting, don’t forget to use the hashtag #Mobil1RLM


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