A brief history of the greatest endurance motor race; Le Mans 24 hour endurance event.
With the race at Le Mans well under way, we took a moment to run through the history and detail why this event has become such a momentous occasion in the race calendar. 2022 marks the 90th annual race event at Le Mans, France. The 24hr endurance race draws crowds from all over the world and is both symbolic and iconic in the racing world.
Since its conception in 1923, the focus on the race has always been endurance over straight-line top speed and agility. The Drivers must maintain a speed that ensures they keep pace with other racers, yet steady enough to ensure no mechanical failures of the car, whilst also managing consumables (fuel, tyres, brakes etc). Regulations state that only three drivers can share one competing vehicle. The race is won by the team covering the most distance in 24 hours.
Organisers, Automobile Club de L’Ouest, host the event every year on the Circuit de la Sarthe; a track consisting of public roads and dedicated sections of a race track. Along with the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans makes up the final third to the Triple Crown of Motorsport.
Le Mans 24 entice Auto Manufacturers to consider not only speed, but reliability too. Prior to Le Mans, Grand Prix in Europe was generally set over a fixed distance and wins went to the the team with the fastest, or most agile motor, yet with endurance racing, the key is spending as little time off the track as possible. Moving forward, many car manufacturers focussed on the fuel efficiency of their cars as once more, less pit stops meant more miles. Companies trial (some incognito) newer and more improved efficiency technologies during the race, and, once proven, employ them into production cars for use on the road.
The race, held in June each years begins mid afternoon and finishes at the same hour the following day with some competitors finishing with well over 5000km under their belts. The current record for distance travelled is 5,410km.
Oftentimes, the Friday before race day marks the parade through the town of Le Mans. Drivers and their vehicles turn up en-mass and put on a show for locals and tourists during a small parade before race day. In 2022, the parade began at 5pm with 186 drivers parading the streets, handing out signed goods to onlookers, whilst relishing the support from all sides.
For guests visiting the circuit, there are plenty of board options. There are facilities for camping out at the onsite campsite or renting a ‘flexotel’ cabin on site. Flexotel cabins are private, secure cabins available for rent. Many of the board facilities have secure car parks for those that wish to keep their Cars under close watch too.
The excitement isn’t limited to the track alone. For Patrons, there are a multitude of experiences and events to partake in. Head to the Musuem; loaded wall to wall with historic cars from all the top marques or, before the race begins, watch from the sidelines as the cars are ‘weighed in’ each one at a time, followed by a parade of cars both new and old.
Its safe to say that that Le Mans is as good as it gets when it comes to racing. For more info and live coverage of the race, be sure to check out the official webpage here.