Sitting back, watching the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend got me thinking; does anyone know the history behind the infamous race of champions? Known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, the race takes place near the town of Le Mans in France and has been held there since 1923. The gist of the event is for teams from all over the world to find an equilibrium of high speed, without damaging the vehicle’s consumable materials. Over the course of time, drivers will be able to have time to rest and relax, while another driver takes their place on the grid for their leg of the race.
The very first run of Le Mans was on the 26th and 27th of May in 1923, with the winner being determined based on the endurance during three races. Primarily in these early days, the competition was dominated by British, French and Italian racing teams all racing Bugatti, Bentley and Alfa Romeo, respectively. As the 1920s continued on, people started to see more aerodynamic designs in the vehicles, making innovations that would solidify their places in automotive history.
The venue of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is held at the Circuit de la Sarthe, which consists of both public and private roads, and has been the scene of many changes in the course for safety reasons. The key component to winning at Le Mans is the usage of the straightaway lengths in the course, as they allow vehicles to reach speeds of 205+ mph, for an extended amount of time. In more recent years, many other prominent racing circuits have adopted the use of 24 hour format in their races; namely Daytona, Nürburgring, Spa-Francorchamps, and Bathurst.
Over the last 92 years, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has made the careers of several automotive drivers, and manufacturers. Currently the most winning manufacturer at the circuit is Porsche, with sixteen wins, followed by Audi and Ferrari. The most successful driver of all time at Le Mans is Tom Kristensen from Denmark, with 9 all-time wins. If you feel like catching the remainder of this year’s action, you can do so on the Fox Sports website with the Chevrolet Corvette live streaming cam.
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