Le Mans Classic

Jun 28th, 2018

Dating back to 1923, the 24 Heures du Mans is the oldest endurance motorsport race still in existence. Located in Le Mans in the Pays de la Loire region of France, the world-famous Circuit de la Sarthe is 13.6 kilometres (8.4 miles) long, making it one of the longest racetracks in the world. It comprises a combination of purpose-built track and public roads.

 

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The race is a rival to the traditional Grand Prix style of racing and is a test of the endurance of both car and driver. A typical race is eighteen times longer than a Grand Prix. To be succesful, the car must manage its fuel, tyres and brake fluid, and spend as little time as possible in the pit lane.

 

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The Porsche 917, in the iconic light blue and orange livery of Gulf

It forms part of the unofficial Triple Crown of Motorsport along with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. Only one driver has ever managed to achieve success in all three races - that was England’s Graham Hill, who competed across all three disciplines of motorsport. A feat we are unlikey to see repeated.

For many, the race will forever be associated with the 1971 movie Le Mans starring the king of cool, Steve McQueen. A keen motorsport enthusiast and talented driver, McQueen captures the essence of what makes this event so special. His Porsche 917 - in the iconic light blue and orange livery of Gulf - is as much a part of the motorsport legend and his striped racing suit, which still inspires contemporary designers today.

With such a rich heritage, it was perhaps inevitable that the golden age of Le Mans should be celebrated with its own event and, in 2002, Le Mans Classic was formed to do just that. The cult event is held biennially, with the next one scheduled to begin on 6th July 2018.

 

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McQueen captures the essence of what makes this event so special

During the Le Mans Classic, cars race across six period categories (with a cut-off year of 1979) on the original racetrack. For safety reasons, the traditional Le Mans start - where drivers raced across the track to enter their vehicles - has now been banned. As a result all drivers are firmly strapped into their vehicles before the race starts. To allow for refreshments and rest to be taken, there must be a minimum of three drivers per competing car.