JOHN HINDHAUGH stands at a large audio-mixing console, manipulating sliders like a deejay. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide a panoramic view of Daytona International Speedway, where loud and loudly painted race cars snake around the track on their final pace laps. The Rolex 24 is about to start.Alongside him in the cramped, stuffy IMSA Radio booth are play-by-play announcer Jonny Palmer and color commentator Jeremy Shaw. But Hindhaugh (pronounced HIND-hof) is the rock star of Radio Le Mans\u2014not only the public face of the broadcast, but also the man whose soothing British burr, often deployed in a state of elevated excitability, is the voice of endurance racing for millions of fans around the world.\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nHindhaugh is hyping the race with rhapsodic enthusiasm when his voice suddenly changes timbre. \u201cThere has been ! Left front of the 58 car is destroyed! Absolutely destroyed!\u201d he says, climbing to Hindenburg-disaster levels of horror. \u201cInto the pit lane and straight behind the wall. We haven\u2019t even got to the green flag, and the drama has been ramped up to 11 coming down to the Bus Stop on the first formation lap.\u201d He shakes his head. \u201cOh, my goodness! Who writes these scripts?\u201dNot Hindhaugh, obviously. Technically, he\u2019s just a glorified fan with overdeveloped vocal cords and an oversized soapbox. As the centerpiece of the broadcast, he\u2019s a lightning rod for criticism\u2014over the top, won\u2019t shut up, too opinionated. Yet for those reasons, Hindhaugh is often more entertaining than the action he\u2019s describing. He is one of those rare announcers who have a following of their own, and there are listeners who tune in to hear him even when they might otherwise tune out the race.\u201cHe is the heart and soul of Radio Le Mans,\u201d says John Chambers, Hindhaugh\u2019s former boss. \u201cHis knowledge of the sport is unsurpassed. He gets emotional about it. He got married at Le Mans, for f*ck\u2019s sake. He\u2019s like a comfortable pair of slippers. When you go to Le Mans, you listen to Hindhaugh.\u201d \n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nNOBODY OUTSIDE THE RACING WORLD has any idea what Radio Le Mans is. In fact, to the general public, the concept seems laughable: flag-to-flag coverage of a 24-hour race? On the radio no less? But for diehards, Radio Le Mans is indispensable, and over the last 30 years, it\u2019s grown from curiosity to cult to institution.The very qualities that make endurance racing so fascinating\u2013the driver changes, the pit-stop strategies, the assorted classes\u2014also make it a bear to follow. Even today, when timing and scoring are generally available to the public in real time, and live blogging and Twitter updates are commonplace, it\u2019s virtually impossible for even the best-informed and most proactive fans to keep track of the many variables that determine how a race plays out.\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\n\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nThe opacity of the sport is magnified, ironically, at the racetrack, where spectators can see only a sliver of the circuit and much of the critical action takes place in the pits. Which is why so many racegoers wear earbuds and listen to Radio Le Mans via FM, satellite radio, the internet, or a racetrack scanner. It\u2019s also why many television viewers turn off the sound from the video feed and focus on the words beamed by Hindhaugh and company. Fans aren\u2019t the station\u2019s only obsessive followers. The best way for race teams to keep abreast of the competition and see the larger picture is to tune in to Radio Le Mans. \u201cThey know all the racers, and they do their homework,\u201d says Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. \u201cI listen to them because they tell you what\u2019s going on. Plus, Hindhaugh can make a tire change sound exciting.\u201d Although Radio Le Mans is synonymous with coverage of the world\u2019s most prestigious 24-hour race, it\u2019s only a small portion of the broadcast empire ruled by Hindhaugh and his wife, Eve Hewitt. Since creating Radio Show Limited (RSL) in 2005, they\u2019ve expanded its scope to include most of the major endurance-racing series. This year, they will cover everything from Le Mans and the 24-hour race at the N\u00fcrburgring to the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and all of the IMSA support series, the FIA World Endurance Championship, and the European Le Mans Series. In most cases, RSL offers not only radio coverage but also audio for television and streaming video. Hindbaugh and Hewitt are the co-owners of RSL. They operate three radio feeds from a studio in their home in the East Midlands and a satellite facility in London. At racetracks, they work with a changeable cast of broadcast professionals. Here at Daytona, a handful of guest commentators join Hindhaugh in the booth. There are also four vastly experienced and exceedingly nimble pit-lane reporters. But Hindhaugh is the engine that makes the broadcast go. \n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nHindhaugh, 55, has an unruly shock of dark hair. Still, his most memorable feature is his mellifluous voice, a legacy of having been brought up in Sunderland, in North East England. Hindhaugh insists his accent was tempered by misguided efforts in younger years to earn a living in commercial radio. \n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\n\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nWhen he wants to, he can do a perfect gloss on an anodyne BBC accent. But Americans can\u2019t get enough of Hindhaugh\u2019s singular patois, and many would happily listen to him recite a page from an instruction manual\u2014an assignment Hindhaugh would likely undertake. \u201cJohn can talk forever about nothing,\u201d Shaw says. Early in his career, Hindhaugh tried to rein himself in\u2014his accent, his enthusiasm, his volubility. But the man race fans love\u2014or loov, as it sounds when he says it\u2014is Hindhaugh unchained. \u201cIt all became a damn sight easier for me when I started being myself,\u201d he says. \u201cBecause, ultimately, if you are playing a part, you can\u2019t keep it up. You\u2019re going to trip yourself up eventually, whether that\u2019s being unnecessarily enthusiastic or unnecessarily critical. What I do is pretty easy. I say what I see, and the emotion is real. It\u2019s how I feel at that moment.\u201d Still, there\u2019s undoubtedly skill to what he does. What sets Hindhaugh apart from his broadcast rivals is his ability to temper the emotional with the rational. \u201cYou learn to turn down some things from 11 or you sound like a ranting fool. And I\u2019m putting up my hand here,\u201d he says. \u201cI know I\u2019ve sounded like a ranting fool. But it\u2019s not rocket science. If I find it interesting, the audience will find it interesting. Our job, whether it\u2019s down in the pit lane or up here in the booth, is to ask the questions the fans would ask. Joe Bradley said it best many years ago: We\u2019re just spectators with microphones.\u201dHindhaugh grew up with only one BBC television station in his house. Radio was king. \u201cIt would always be on,\u201d he says. \u201cIt was my soundtrack growing up.\u201d As a kid, he pretended to be a disc jockey, and he started working at a local hospital radio station as a teenager. When he was hired by Radio Le Mans in 1989, it wasn\u2019t to call the race; it was to spin records to fill the downtime between race reports. He quickly proved himself indispensable, first on the marketing side and then as an announcer/producer/jack-of-all-trades. Before long, he emerged as the most distinctive and memorable voice of the broadcast. \n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nBy that time, Hindhaugh had cycled through several jobs\u2014bank clerk, employment-office counselor, security guard, marketing consultant, children\u2019s TV show host, government drudge, nightclub deejay. But he found his m\u00e9tier while working for Radio Le Mans. To begin with, he was a lifelong car guy with a serious jones for racing. More than that, though, he had an instinctual feel for the possibilities of radio, and he used the broadcasts like a painter filling a blank canvas. \u201cThe pictures are better on radio,\u201d he says. \u201cThey are! On TV, the pictures should be doing all the work, and so you should be adding to the pictures, not describing what you can see. On the radio, you can\u2019t say, \u2018Ooh! Look at that! I\u2019ve never seen anything like that in my life before. Have you seen anything like that before, Jeremy?\u2019 If you were listening to that without the pictures, you\u2019d rightly say, \u2018What are they talking about?\u2019 Whereas, if I say, \u2018Fernando Alonso has gone of. He\u2019s rolled the car into a small ball down at Turn 5. I\u2019m standing on my tiptoes to see it,\u2019 people immediately have conjured up that image for themselves, and they don\u2019t have to be sitting at a screen to see it. I love radio for that, and once I understood it, I found it quite easy.\u201d \n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\n\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nDAYLIGHT HAS FADED. Beneath the broadcast booth, Daytona shimmers with the brightly lit Ferris wheel pulsating in the infield. \u201cThis is the time of night when the race starts to come alive,\u201d Hindhaugh says into his microphone. In addition to being the principal voice of the broadcast, Hindhaugh is also its conductor. He generally decides who will speak when, based on reports from the pits, the TV crew providing the video feed, and Shaw, who maintains old-school handwritten lap charts. (Paul Truswell, who works with state-of-the-art statistics programs, isn\u2019t here this weekend.) Hindhaugh mutes his mic and tells pit-lane reporter Andrew Marriott, \u201cStand by, Andrew.\u201d Then, over the air, he says, \u201cAndrew Marriott in the pit lane with Jordan Taylor, and then let\u2019s go to Gunnar Jeannette with Shea Adam. Andrew, what do you have?\u201d Four hours later, Hindhaugh is still conning the show. \u201cWelcome to coverage of the whole race, flag to flag, with zero interruptions on IMSA TV and the IMSA app on all three major operating systems,\u201d he says. \u201cAlso on Sirius 13 and XM 202, and at RadioLeMans.com and IMSA.com. RS2 and IMSA Radio is your first choice for all IMSA content and the only broadcaster to have a full trackside crew for every round of the season. And what a start to the season this has been!\u201d\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nTHE IDEA BEHIND Radio Le Mans seems today like both a no-brainer and totally absurd. It made sense only because, as Chambers, a longtime motorsport-magazine executive puts it, \u201cLe Mans is a British race that happens to be in France.\u201d A British Bentley won the second race, in 1924, and the so-called Bentley Boys became the first heroes of Le Mans. Jaguar and Aston Martin claimed six victories in the Fifties, Jaguar scored wins in 1988 and 1990, and Bentley won in 2003. It\u2019s estimated that 80,000 of the nearly 300,000 fans who attend Le Mans annually come from the U.K. And after midnight there, it seems like three-quarters of the spectators lurching along pedestrian pathways are draped in Union Jacks. \n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\n\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nDespite the massive British presence at Le Mans, the French organizers traditionally didn\u2019t make much of an effort to accommodate fans from across the channel. Once an hour, a brief English-language update was broadcast over the public-address system, but if a gaggle of cars happened to be roaring past the speaker at the appointed time, too bad. So, in 1986, British car maven Michael Scott\u2014who ran the Club Soixante-Douze du Mans, which led an annual pilgrimage to France and hosted epic bacchanals at the circuit\u2014decided to take advantage of the recent relaxation of radio regulations and broadcast the race to the U.K. \u201cI bought an old Koni shock-absorber mobile-service wagon and transformed it into a studio,\u201d he recalls. The first year, celebrated British announcer Bob Constanduros provided commentary alone. Yep, he was the entire crew, giving updates between musical interludes, rather than flag-to-flag coverage. The next year, sports-car racing enthusiast Harry Turner, whom Hindhaugh calls \u201cthe father of Radio Le Mans,\u201d lined up sponsorship from the Silk Cut Jaguar team. Broadcasts were rudimentary, but the panache of the Jags and the success of Tom Walkinshaw Racing dramatically raised the profile of Le Mans in the U.K., and Radio Le Mans graduated from bit-player status. Haymarket Media Group, which had been giving the broadcast advertising space in Autosport, then took the reins and negotiated licensing fees with the Automobile Club de l\u2019Ouest (ACO), which runs Le Mans.Truswell, famed for his detailed statistical analysis (and for remaining at his microphone for 24 consecutive hours), joined the team in 1988. Hindhaugh arrived the following year. By the mid-2000s, tuning in to Radio Le Mans was a rite of passage for any serious fan of endurance racing.\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nThen the wheels almost came off. After the 2005 race, Haymarket and the ACO couldn\u2019t come to terms on a new contract. By then, Hindhaugh was overseeing the broadcast for Haymarket while moonlighting doing radio commentary for the American Le Mans Series. But he understood that his reputation was inextricably tied to Radio Le Mans. So he found a financial backer to underwrite the project. At the last second\u2014\u201cpretty much the eleventh hour and 59th minute,\u201d he says\u2014the funding fell out.\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\n\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\n\u201cIt just so happened that I\u2019d sold my house,\u201d he says. \u201cEverybody thought I\u2019d buy some kind of race car with the money. I said, \u2018No, no, that\u2019s my pension. I\u2019ve got to put that away.\u2019 But when our backer pulled out, I sat down with Eve and said, \u2018If we don\u2019t do this, and Radio Le Mans doesn\u2019t run next year, we\u2019ll never get it restarted.\u2019 To her credit, she said, \u2018Be damned for something you\u2019ve done, not for something you haven\u2019t done.\u2019 So I put every bit of money that I had saved up on the line. I went to Paris just before Christmas in 2005, had a very nice lunch with the ACO, and did a deal that handed over all the proceeds of my house to them. The invoice came in between Christmas and the new year, to be paid by the end of January.\u201d With no sponsors and no commercial partners, he called up David Ingram of Audi UK, with whom he\u2019d had a commercial relationship, and told him the situation. \u201cHe said, basically, \u2018Where do I sign?\u2019 \u201d Hindhaugh and Hewitt\u2014whose background is in marketing and event planning\u2014immediately ditched traditional 30-second advertisements in favor of branded content. To this day, sponsorship pays much of the freight. Thus, at Daytona, there are reports from the Continental Tire pit lane, and the race is preceded by the \u201cMichelin Countdown to Green.\u201d During the race, PR handlers squire corporate executives across the track to the broadcast booth for on-air interviews that straddle the line between editorial and advertising. It\u2019s a reminder that nothing in life is truly free, even on the internet. These commercial tie-ins provide Radio Show Limited with funding to hire unusually savvy pros. Shaw is the former editorial director of On Track magazine. Marriott\u2019s been a fixture in the paddock for the past half century. Bradley is an ex-race-team manager. Adam\u2019s mother was a news anchor, and her father is long-time racing driver Bill Adam.\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nThe crew has been around for so long that the race teams treat them more like family than media. In the middle of the night, for example, after Harry Tincknell finishes his turn in the Mazda DPi car and does a lightning debrief, he immediately consents to a live interview with Diana Binks\u2014whose career includes a stint in Formula 1\u2014before toweling off, getting a drink, or talking to a patiently waiting print reporter. \u201cBeautiful, people, beautiful,\u201d Hindhaugh murmurs of-line back in the booth, complimenting Binks on the good get.Although Hindhaugh is an old-school radio geek at heart, RSL\u2019s success is predicated largely on digital innovation. Far more listeners find the broadcasts streaming online than over the airwaves. \u201cThe whole internet thing came about because we needed to find a way to get to a bigger audience,\u201d he says. In 1996, he orchestrated a \u201cvery quick and dirty\u201d online broadcast with the help of s in London. Some 750,000 people tuned in, he says. \u201cThis was back in \u201996! All of a sudden, everybody realized that we had something to develop.\u201dThe internet exponentially extended Hindhaugh\u2019s reach. The Le Mans broadcast alone drew millions of visitors to the website last year and reached 182 territories. Altogether, RSL produced more than 3000 hours of live programming in 2017, including a weekly podcast. All free to consumers, by the way. \u201cThere\u2019s a democracy to radio,\u201d Hindhaugh says. \u201cWe put it out there in the ether, and anybody who has the requisite equipment can listen in. We\u2019re like the British National Health Service\u2014free at the point of use.\u201d\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\n\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nWHAT HINDHAUGH LOVES about endurance racing, he says, is that \u201cthere\u2019s a soap opera behind every garage door.\u201d This year\u2019s Daytona 24 unspooled without many surprises; the winning Cadillac prototype led for the last nine hours, and there were no final-lap fireworks in either of the other classes. Even as the grueling race concluded, Hindhaugh\u2019s own work carried on. He and Hewitt had to catch a fight to Australia to broadcast the Bathurst 12-hour race the following weekend.\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\n\u201cIn 2016, I did 56 long-haul segments\u2014over five hours apiece. And I don\u2019t like flying!\u201d Hindhaugh says. \u201cBut once I get to the track, it doesn\u2019t matter. If it has wheels, and they keep score, I\u2019m interested. It\u2019s dead easy for me to keep the enthusiasm going.\u201d And that, perhaps, is Hindhaugh\u2019s most endearing attribute\u2014that he still manages to get amped up for each event, no matter how small or far-flung, after all these years of following the same circus through the same towns. In fact, he seems genuinely surprised that anybody would question his passion for working some 40 race weekends a year. \u201cI\u2019m a petrolhead from Sunderland,\u201d he says, \u201cand the guys that I work with and the work we do are integral to some of the biggest motorsports events in the world. I\u2019ve done things and been places that people would give important parts of their anatomy without any form of anesthesia to do. What\u2019s not to like?\u201dHe can\u2019t think of anything. And so, for one brief moment, John Hindhaugh is speechless.