The 24 Hours of Le Mans is an endurance racing competition taking place since 1923 on a road circuit in France, south of the city of Le Mans.
It is one of the most prestigious races in the world, just like the Monaco Grand Prix or the Indianapolis 500 miles.
The track, measuring 13.626 km takes part of the Bugatti circuit, but also a large part of the national road. Famous passages such as the Mulsanne, Arnage turns and the straight line of the Hunaudiéres, 6 km long where the prototypes reached 400km / h.
In 1990, this part was divided into three parts with the installation of 2 baffles in order to limit the search for maximum speeds. (Several accidents due to the take-off of cars will remain in memory).
The starting procedure, reproduced in many other endurance races and called “Le Mans Start” required drivers to run across the track to reach their car, parked on the cob along the track.
In 1966, two Ford GT 40 MkIIs crossed the finish line at the same time. this edition was part of the fight between Ford and Ferrari told in the film “Le Mans 66”.
The 1970 edition was the subject of the filming of the film “Le Mans” with Steve McQueen.
Steve McQueen considers this film to be a centerpiece of his career. After having actually participated in the 12 hours of Sebring, where he will finish second, the insurance denies him the right to participate in the 24 hours of Le Mans. it can therefore only be present in the stands to film the connection plans.
In the summer of the same year, Steve McQueen managed to rent the Le Mans circuit for 3 months, with 25 racing cars, drivers and mechanics to be able to drive and complete the shots.
Many excessive expenses for the film, in particular due to serious accidents. To limit these expenses, the Porsche 917 driven by McQueen is in fact a replica with a Lola chassis and a Chevrolet engine.
(The official “True” Porsche 917 established in 1971 the track record 3 min 13 seconds and 6 tenths.)
Despite the commercial flop in the United States when it was released, it is now an exceptional documentary film for the quality of the shots and a realistic description of the atmosphere of endurance racing in the 1970s.
This year 2020, for the first time since its creation, and due to Covid-19, the 24 hours of Le Mans will take place in September, the 19 and the 20, with a start given at 2:30 p.m.