It’s been a long time since an American team had a good shot at overall victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Glickenhaus teased with a podium last year, but otherwise Americas best hope for victory in recent years has come in the GTE classes. Corvette Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing with its Ford GTs have had to slake the patriotic thirst for endurance racing glory.

One has to look back to 2005 to find Champion Racing’s victory with the mighty Audi R8 for an overall win by an American team. It was a few years before that that saw Cadillac Racing attempting to win Le Mans with various versions of the Northstar LMP. And the last time an American team won with an American manufacturer (not to mention a pair of American drivers)? 1967, when Shelby American claimed victory with the Ford GT driven by A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney.

In 2023, not only does Corvette once again have a shot at a class victory; American teams Heart of Racing (through an entry with Northwest AMR) and AO Racing (partnering with Project 1) are having a go at it, and Cadillac Racing through its two American teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Action Express, is once again seeking an overall victory. Then there’s Porsche Penske Motorsports – the car may be German, but few are as synonymous with American success in racing as Roger Penske.

CGR has had its Le Mans moments, but for Action Express Racing it will be all new. And for Felipe Luis ‘Pipo’ Derani, it will be his first go at Le Mans with the team with which he has had so much success, including the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi title and victory in this year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Alexander Sims and Jack Aitken, the same drivers he will partner with at Le Mans.

“I’m used to jumping ship to another team and joining other drivers and and having that feeling of, ‘OK, now we start from scratch and how does this team work? How do we get things going?’” says Derani. “So for sure, it’s going to be more of a plug-and-play in that sense. But again, also having Action Express be there for the very first time, I suppose there’ll be so many other things that I will try and guide them as well on how to approach the weekend, because they haven’t been there. Same for Alex as well, with being there so many times and having done so well at Le Mans.”

Ian James has an LMP2 podium at Le Mans, but he’s hungry for a victory. The team principal at Heart of Racing is part of the driver lineup for the team’s first effort at Le Mans along with the team’s WeatherTech Championship GTD PRO and WEC driver Alex Riberas and Daniel Mancinelli. The same trio made Heart of Racing’s debut in WEC at Spa in April.

“It’s an amazing race,” says James. “If we can get to the finish and have a decent result, then we’ll be very happy with our first Le Mans as a team. Obviously you want to be on the podium, you want the chance to win. But our first mission is to get to the end. It’s a pretty fiercely competitive class, but we’re confident that we can do a good job. Car seems to be good, but there’s a lot of Lady Luck in these long races, so we’ll just try and do our part and stay out of trouble and, and see where we end up.”

Ben Keating has a victory at Le Mans, coming last year in GTE-Am with TF Sport. If he can repeat that feat this year with Nicky Catsburg and Nico Varrone in the No. 33 Corvette C8.R, he suspects it will be a different experience, just as it was when they won WEC races at Sebring and Portimao.

“When I raced with Project One and the Porsche we won a race and you have the German flag and the German national anthem,” he says.

“And then you win in the Aston, you have the British flag and the British national anthem. I always said, ‘Man, how cool would it be to stand on the podium, have an American flag and the American national anthem?’ When it happened at Sebring, I was amazed at how choked up I got. It was a very emotional experience. It was one thing to have that at Sebring, where we’re on American soil, it didn’t seem that strange, you know? Then you go to Portimao, we do it again, on Portuguese soil. And it’s just a whole other level.”

Keating did stand on the podium with his own team running a Ford GT in 2019, but that victory was taken away due to a fuel cell size infraction. He’s ready to experience that feeling again, this time for keeps.

“I’m a car dealer, I sell cars, and that’s how I pay for racing cars,” he says. “But to race, something I sell, to be an American driver racing an American car for an American team, is just a whole different level. It’s been incredible.”