Actor Michael Fassbender is the latest celebrity to try his hand at conquering the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 45-year-old actor has appeared in such movies as the X-Men and Inglourious Basterds, and he began his racing career after an extended conversation with actor Patrick Dempsey.
Plans and details were hammered out between Fassbender and Porsche Motorsports as he took his initial steps to become a racing driver at the Porsche Driving Experience. From that starting point he moved up the ranks to the Porsche Sports Cup, and then the Porsche Mobil Supercup. His experience was documented in the YouTube series, Road to Le Mans.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” says Michael Fassbender. “It could be a one-off chance so I simply want to do my best.”
In 2020 he raced in the European Le Mans Series for Proton Competition with his teammates Richard Lietz (Austria) and Felipe Fernández Laser (Germany). Fassbender earned 47 points in four races to finish sixth in the GTE class. The following season, with the same teammates, he finished fifth after earning 61 points in six races.
“Michael may not be the most natural talent, but he’s a hard worker,” said his Proton Competition teammate Richard Lietz.
For the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans Fassbender will pilot the No. 93 Porsche 911 in the GTE-Am class with Australian works driver Matt Campbell and Zacharie Robichon from Canada.
Fassbender is one a few celebrity drivers that took on the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Hollywood legend Paul Newman finished second at the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche 935 with Dick Barbour and Rolf Stommelen. Newman’s interest in motorsports led to his first professional race in 1972 at Thompson International Speedway and he drove for the Bob Sharp Racing team from the 1970s to the early 1990s.
Newman won multiple SCCA championships and co-owned a CART/IndyCar team with Carl Haas. Newman/Haas Racing competed from 1983 to 2011, and won 107 races and eight drivers’ championships.
Patrick Dempsey gained fame on the TV series Grey’s Anatomy and has driven in the Rolex Sports Car Series (GT class), American Le Mans Series (GTC class), and the World Endurance Championship (GTE AM class).
In 2013, while racing for Wright Motorsports, Dempsey finished fourth in the GTE-AM class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Dempsey-Proton Racing was established in 2014 and in 2015 Dempsey finished second in the GTE amateur class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I think it’s hard to put into words how much it means to be on the podium in Le Mans. Phenomenal effort and support from Porsche,” Dempsey said. “It’s an amazing accomplishment — you always dream about moments like this. I’ve worked really hard over the last three years to make this happen, and I’m here. Vive la France!”
The dark side of the moon shone brightly for Pink Floyd drummer Nick Floyd during his five drives at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1979, whilst driving for Dorset Racing, Mason made his racing debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind the wheel of a Lola T296 and finished 18th overall, second in class. That would be the high-water mark for Mason at Le Mans, as his next four races led to three DNFs and a 22nd place finish.