24 Hours of Le Mans: 100 Years of Endurance and Innovation
The famous race, often a testing ground for the automotive industry, has hit its centennial.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which was first held in May 1923 to help spur innovation in the growing automotive industry by emphasizing not just speed, but also efficiency, reliability and endurance.
It is a very demanding race, and the greatest race, said Tom Kristensen, who has won Le Mans a record nine times.
The Automobile Club de lOuest organized that first race, designing a course on public roads south of Le Mans that bisected forests and passed residential areas.
Its one of the biggest events on the calendar, up there with the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, said Anthony Davidson, who has competed in the race 13 times. Everyone has heard of Le Mans. Its a race any generation can click with and understand.
The circuit layout, which still uses public roads, has had only minor revisions, mostly for safety, and is usually held around midsummer for maximum daylight. Limits on driving time were gradually introduced, and now each car has three drivers.