Once a year, 250,000 racing fans descend on Le Mans. Once they have tired of drinking, celebrity spotting and admiring pit girls some even manage to watch the race.
An endurance race like no other, it is one of the biggest sporting events in the world. The 24 hour race takes place every year in the middle of June.
The circuit which is over 13 km or 8.1 miles long is made up of part of the Le Mans Bugatti circuit, bits of circuit used only for the 24 hours and a lot local roads. The Bugatti circuit provides the pit lane facilities and the first corner with the famous Dunlop bridge.
The track has been changed many times over the years. The Circuit des 24 Heures is probably best known for the famous Mulsanne straight, a part of the RN138 known locally as Ligne Droite des Hunaudières, now including 2 Playstation chicanes. You can still eat feet from the Cars at the Chinese at Hunaudières.
The circuit stays on public roads through the slightly banked Indianapolis and Arnage corners until it branches off for the Porsche Curves which bypasses the old Maison Blanche section and then finally heads back to the Bugatti circuit at the Ford Chicane.
Map of Le Mans
*Tertre Rouge Corner onto the Mulsanne Straight
The Campsite, Houx Annexe
Situated to the Eastern side of Camping Houx, and also inside the circuit, the Annexe has only its name in common with Camping Houx. This site is a 15 minute walk from the Village via the northern loop of the Bugatti circuit or the Esses corner. The corner at Tertre Rouge can be reached in 10 minutes, with the Esses complex accessible in only 5. The Mulsanne straight stretches out beyond the trees to the East of the site and although concealed from view it provides a cacophony of noise! This is arguably the most noisy and rowdy campsite for would be campers. If fireworks, sound systems and general party time are what you want, then Houx Annexe is for you! Expect little sleep, dust everywhere (when hot) and a thoroughly diverse mix of people and nationalities. Friday night at Le Mans in general is not for the faint hearted - this is even truer on Houx Annexe. As well as the sound systems that go well into the night/morning there is also the roundabout The Club Arnage Guide to the 24 hours of Le Mans 2010 118 burnout session to the South East corner of the site where all are welcome to perform burnouts, doughnuts and anything else that takes your fancy
A blagger’s guide
- The first Le Mans 24 hours was held in 1923 and the event has been held every year since except 1936 and 1940-8.
- The most successful constructor is Porsche with 16 wins, followed by Ferrari (nine) and Audi and Jaguar (seven each).
- The most successful driver is Denmark’s Tom Kristensen with seven wins, followed by Belgium’s Jacky Ickx (six). Britain’s Derek Bell lies third with five. The record of “Bentley Boy” Woolf Barnato, who raced only three times (1928-30) and won all of them, remains unmatched.
- The most successful celebrity at Le Mans was the film star Paul Newman who came second in 1979. Nick Mason, the Pink Floyd drummer, has taken part five times while Steve McQueen made a film about the 1970 race but was not allowed to compete for insurance reasons.
- The highest speed recorded at Le Mans is 252mph by a WM-Peugeot in 1988. Since 1990 the Mulsanne Straight has been divided by chicanes to keep speeds down.
- The worst motor racing disaster occurred at Le Mans in 1955 when Pierre Levegh was killed in a crash after which the engine of his Mercedes flew into the crowd, leaving more than 80 spectators dead.
- Levegh is the only person to attempt to drive Le Mans solo. In 1952 he was leading with less than three hours to go when he missed a gearchange and blew his engine.
- The biggest winning margin was set by Bentley in 1927 – 217 miles ahead of the second car.
- The closest nonstaged finish was in 1969 when Ford beat Porsche by just over 100 yards.
- Most of the circuit, including the Mulsanne Straight, is public road, closed for the race.
- When Graham Hill won in 1972 he became the only Le Mans winner to have also won the Indianapolis 500 and the F1 world championship.
- The population of Le Mans is 145,000, almost 100,000 less than attend the race.
- No driver can go more than four successive hours.
- The driver must make all repairs on the circuit
- It has its own radio station - 'Radio Le Mans'.
- Le Mans ,staring Steve McQueen, came out 1970.
- Wilbur Wright, the American aviation pioneer, once used the Mulsanne straight as his airstrip.
- Until 1970 drivers would line up on the track and run to their cars on the dropping of the green flag. Le Mans now begins with a rolling start.
- No more than 48 cars can compete.
- Halfway along the Mulsanne Straight there is a Chinese restaurant used as a reference point.
- Jean Rondeau is the only person to win in a car of his own construction in 1980.
- The circuit has changed 11 times and reduced by over two miles during the lifetime of the race.
- The average speed of the first race in 1923 was 57mph. This year it was more than 130mph.
Official ACO Le Mans Website
http://www.planetlemans.com/ - Le Mans & Sportscar news.
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24 Hour Party People….
A 24-hour party – with one hell of a race attached ...
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