THE 2010 LE MANS RACE
The 78th Le Mans 24-hour race takes place 12th-13th June 2010 at the Circuit de la Sarthe. The race track is located near Le Mans in the Pays de la Loire. For the first time since 1969 the organisers have decided to revive an old tradition. The 56 drivers will race across the track before starting their engines and driving away. This tradition was withdrawn due to safety concerns during the 1960’s. Indeed, some drivers were driving off without fastening their safety harnesses! This should be an exciting start and thrilling 24 hours!
THE LE MANS RACE IN A NUTSHELL
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest sports car endurance race. The aim was to test the endurance and speed of both car and driver. It is considered to be one of the most prestigious automobile competitions in the world. People also call it the “Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency”. The 24 Hours of Le Mans has remained largely unchanged since its inception in 1923. The organisers have merely made safety improvements and circuit tweaks to keep the race up to date. Approximately 50 drivers take part in teams of two, sharing the drive to see who can travel farthest. The race has become as mythical as the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and the Monaco Grand Prix. However, the long history of the “24 heures du Mans” has not always gone as smoothly as it could have done…
A BIT OF HISTORY
It all began in October 1922 with a simple conversation in the very chic atmosphere of the Paris Motor Show (Le Salon de l’Automobile). Underneath the imposing dome of the Grand Palais, Georges Durand (Secretary General to the Automobile Club de l’Ouest), Charles Faroux (renowned editor of l’Auto magazine) and Émile Coquille (general representative of the British motorcycle and tyre company Rudge-Whitworth) decide to launch a “Grand Prix d’Endurance de 24 heures”.
Within the space of a short few months, the project is refined, the rules decided and the date set. The race track will be the one that hosted the ACF Grand Prix in 1921 (Automobile Club de France). With a date scheduled for 26th and 27th May 1923, the Grand Prix de l’Endurance attracts 17 car manufacturers (15 of those being French) for a total figure of 33 competitors. However, the weather was atrocious on the first day. In fact, the track was actually more like a mud bath due to the appalling conditions. The next day, the weather improved so the drivers were able to pick up some speed and ended up beating several international road records. The Chenard & Walcker driven by André Lagache and René Léonard beat the 24-hour distance record as well as the record for the time taken to cover 2,000 km. They also clinched victory at this first 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only three competitors were forced to retire – the lowest proportion in the race’s history!
However, the race did not become really popular with the public until 1926!
A BIT OF TRIVIA
Did you know that Steve McQueen had actually intended to take part in the 1970 race in a Porsche 917 with Jackie Stewart? It was part of the filming for the “Le Mans” movie which came out in 1971. Sadly, in the end, he was not accepted. McQueen had a history of motor racing, having co-driven to 2nd place in the 12 hours of Sebring (Florida).
For more info on the Le Mans race, why not visit the official website? https://www.lemans.org/en/24-hours-of-le-mans
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