Speed is a risky business. The 24 hours of Le Mans runs on speed and your life. It has been the oldest sports car race for 97 years and remains magnificent. Here’s what the race underwent to be the dream trophy of every sports car driver.
Originating in the Sarthe city of France, 24 hours of Le Mans presented a challenge. The dominating test of speed was the Grand Prix Motor Race. But Le Mans was a different kind of test. It didn’t just want sports cars to be sporty, but to be durable.
Based on this formula of speed and reliability, sports car makers, drivers, and mechanics were faced with a competitive contest. Initially, the race was supposed to be a 3-year event where the winner would be announced if they went the furthest for 3 consecutive races.
But this idea was soon ditched, and it became an annual competition.
The Journey and Innovation
Running on the infamous track of Circuit de la Sarthe, public roads are blocked for the entire day for this race. Auto manufactures spend years formulating ideas to build a car that will win.
Le Mans was the fuel to the fire of innovation in the sports car industry. Companies went to all limits to produce engines and designs that would run the full course with minimal touch-ups. The greatest feud being between Ford and Ferrari as depicted in the popular movie, “Ford v Ferrari” was based on a true story of Le Mans.
Ford went to great lengths to create the Ford GT40, and so did the people of Le Mans to make sure that the track was diverse at its core. The track provided the main challenge to the manufacturers as some cars failed to even complete the course successfully. After 2 years of failure and retries, Ford managed to build a model that beat the Ferrari in 1966. And then holding the winning car for the next 3 years too.
Full of danger and adrenaline, drivers sign up with their glorified cars to drive for 24 hours. While many people attempt to win the race, there is only one champion. The person to drive the longest-running distance in a full 24 hours wins the race. However, with every sports car racing at each other, every second of every minute is a risk.
During the race everyone has adrenaline rushing through their veins as they witness a blur in time. Accidents happen, cars are ruined, engines fail, but one team – only one – wins a year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The conception of the race wasn’t significant only for the sports car industry but for automobiles all around the world. The technology and innovation used in the making of sports cars drip down to the consumer industry and family cars. They too evolve their models and transform normal roads into safer racetracks.
Le Mans was an evolution of races and innovation. Everyone chases speed, but at Le Mans, speed chases you. So, you better drive fast and far.