Celebrating 100 years of the greatest race on the planet
BMW 3.0 CSL
A mere hundred years have passed since the first Grand Prix d’endurance de 24 heures, a somewhat humble beginning for the race now considered the ultimate test of man and machine, a grueling challenge set over 24 hours where the world’s best drivers fight for one of the ultimate prizes in motor racing. It was back in May of 1923 when the first race was contested, with no official winners prize to fight for, the field of cars fought to see which team could cover the most distance over the 24 hour period. The field comprised of predominantly French cars with the notable inclusion of a single Bentley and two Belgian Excelsiors, the overall winners were Andre Lagache and Rene Leonard, who piloted a Chenard-Walcker Type U3 15CV Sport one hundred and twenty-eight times around the track, covering an astonishing 1372 miles over the course of the 24 hours.
The track itself has evolved over the years, but unlike many of its contemporaries, retains most of the charm and mystique, which have characterized the race over the years. The Mulsanne Straight, now punctuated by two chicanes, introduced in 1990 in an attempt to curb the ever increasing speeds along its former 3.7 mile grandeur, still offers a scintillating thrill, where top class prototypes can realize their top speed potential, as the track cuts through the forests which lead into the French countryside south of the circuit. Still considered a pure test of both driver and car, the fast sweeping corners, tight chicanes and blisteringly fast straights combine to offer a challenge unlike any other, more raw than other circuits used for the World Endurance Championship.
Become a Member & Get Ad-Free Access To This Article (& About 6,000+ More)
Access to the full article is limited to paid subscribers only. Our membership removes most ads, lets you enjoy unlimited access to all our premium content, and offers you awesome discounts on partner products. Enjoy our premium content.