The Le Mans endurance race, one of motorsport’s most iconic and challenging competitions, celebrates its centenary today. We can only say congratulations to pedal lovers.
And it happened that this type of motorsport defined for a century, became an icon of resistance and sport.
The concept of Le Cenomanian was born in France in 1923, from the brain of motorist Georges Durand. The vision was to create a competition that would not only test the speed, but also the endurance of the vehicles. In this way, Durand laid the foundations of what would become the most noble endurance race in the world.
We are already in the first year. The participants were before the 24-hour race, where both the driver and the car were tested. This was the first of many resistance tests throughout its history.
Night and day: a challenge
Another unique feature is the competition night, a challenge that pushes drivers and their machines to the limit. At night, visibility is significantly reduced and they must rely on their skills and the headlights of their vehicles to continue on the trail.
Over the years he had many memorable moments. From incredible feats to dramatic crashes, the race is a testament to human spirit and technological innovation. Each year the teams and drivers strive to overcome the challenges and adversities it presents.
more than a nation
But it is more than a race; The show is also very nice. Every year, thousands of fans come to the circuit to enjoy the competition and the festive atmosphere. It has attracted celebrities and personalities from around the world, adding a touch of sophistication to an already exciting career.
It has evolved significantly in its 100-year history. He saw how vehicles have changed, from the classic 1920’s race cars to the modern concept of hybrid cars. Each edition is an example of how technology and motorsports have evolved.
Legendary feats of great drivers and teams. Figures like Tom Kristensen, the most decorated driver with nine victories, Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell, among others, are remembered in the history of the race.
The parties also left their mark. From Bentley, the first winner, to Porsche, the most successful manufacturer with 19 victories, the history of Maine is full of fierce battles and duels of the Titans.
Today it remains one of the most difficult and prestigious races in the world. Night racing continues to challenge drivers and endurance remains a fundamental test of engines.
The community of Genoa
It would be nothing without its passionate community of fans. Every year, thousands of spectators flock to the Circuit de la Sarthe to watch the race and become part of history.
It is a matter of play rather than a matter; It is a celebration that unites people from all over the world.
And to the future?
With advances in technology and sustainability, it continues to be at the forefront of motorsport.
The endurance genre is constantly evolving, and each edition brings new promise and challenge. We can’t wait to see what the next century holds for us.
The race is not only a major sporting event, but also a significant economic engine. It is estimated that it generates close to 30 million dollars in direct income every year. But this number adds up considerably with indirect income, which includes tourism, sales and marketing.
Until there is a large amount of protein, it will be invested in eros. During the race week, hotels fill the area and restaurants and bars experience a surge in demand. Many temporary jobs are also being created to meet the needs of the workforce.
Investment in infrastructure in the Sarthe region has been boosted, including improvements in the environment and surrounding facilities. In this sense, Maine is not only a sporting spectacle, but also a major contributor to the local and national economy.
A convenient place
It is located in the north-western part of France. Its strategic geographical location was one of the decisive factors in its choice as a race venue. Located less than 200 kilometers from Paris, it allows easy access to a large number of spectators and competitors.
The city of Genoa is also close to major communication routes, including roads and tram lines, making it easy for teams and machines to arrive from all over Europe and beyond.
The choice of Genoa as the type of venue also has to do with the location and conditions of the venue. Known as the Circuit de la Sarthe, the circuit combines sections of public roads and tracks dedicated to the race, offering drivers a unique and variable challenge.
The beautiful Sarthe region, with its rolling hills and green fields, also adds to the charm and appeal of the race. Plus, it has a rich automotive and sports history that cements its place as the home of the world’s most famous endurance race.
The most moving and impressive races
1966: this is perhaps one of the most famous nations. This year, Ford sought revenge on Ferrari after the deal fell through. Ford placed the bike team in the GT40, and in the end they managed to beat Ferrari at their own game, taking the top three places. This historic event was recently represented in the 2019 movie “Ford v Ferrari”.
1955: This is, unfortunately, one of the most memorable events of all for the tragedy. The massive crash killed 83 spectators and driver Peter Levegh, making it the deadliest race in motorsport history. The result of a major redesign in motor racing safety.
1970: This race is notable because it set up a huge battle between Porsche and Ferrari. In this edition, the Porsche 917 made its appearance and managed to lead Porsche to its first victory in that event, marking the beginning of its dominance to this day. This race was immortalized in the movie “Le Mans” with Steve McQueen.
British driver Derek Bell (left) gives advice to American actor Steve McQueen (right) at the wheel of a Brabham F2, on July 18, 1970, at Le Mans on the set of the movie ‘Le Mans’, directed by American Lee. H. Katzin, shot during and after the 38th edition of the 24 Hours of Genoa in June 1970.
1991: This year was particularly notable for the victory of the Mazda 787B, becoming the first and only rotary-powered car to win the race. He was also the first Japanese brand to win, paving the way for further Japanese brands to become involved in endurance racing.
2016: This kind of dramatic turn of events has been in recent times. Toyota appeared to be in the lead and on its first trip to Genoa it appeared that the victory was its own, until at the last stop the number 5 car started to misfire, allowing the rush to pass and win the race. Here ends one of the greatest stories in the history of Genoa, proving that in this race nothing is certain until it crosses the finish line.
Tragedy in the history of Genoa
So, unfortunately, it is not without its tragedies. The worst accident in motorsport history happened in the 1955 edition, when Peter Levegh, the Mercedes-Benz driver, crashed into the guard wall and his car was thrown into the stands full of spectators. Levegh was killed instantly, and parts of the flying vehicle killed more than 80 onlookers.
This incident led to significant changes in safety regulations, both among the Maine and in other motoring nations around the world. Although there have been other fatal accidents over the years, there have been none on the scale of the 1955 tragedy.
Today, safety regulations are very strict and both the managers and the teams do everything possible to ensure the safety of drivers and spectators. However, motor racing always carries a certain level of risk and incidents, although rarer now, can still happen.
Austrian driver Jo Gartner lost his life in the 1986 edition. Gartner was driving race 962 when, overnight, his car slid off the track at high speed on the Mulsanne Straight and caught fire. Despite the efforts of the marshal and medical services, Gartner died from injuries sustained in the accident.
Allan Simonsen, a Danish driver, was killed in the 2013 edition, Simonsen, who was driving an Aston Martin, lost his car on the third lap of the race and crashed into the barriers at Tertre Rouge corner. Simonsen was taken to a medical center, but died from his injuries. This was the first fatal accident in Maine since 1986 Jo Gartner.
Mexicans among the Cenomanians
It is the cradle of stories.
Pedro Rodríguez: Perhaps the most famous racing driver in Mexico, an icon in the motorsport world. He participated in several editions, taking victory in 1968 with the Ford GT40 together with the Belgian team Luciano Bianchi.
Ricardo Rodríguez: Pedro Rodríguez’s younger brother, Ricardo was also a super pilot. Although his life was tragically short (he died in an accident during the Formula 1 race in Mexico in 1962 at the age of 20), Ricardo managed to compete in 1960, becoming the youngest driver to participate in this prestigious race. Although he did not manage to finish the race, his participation was historic.
José Luis Ramírez: He participated several times in the 80s and 90s, usually driving cars in the C2 category. His best performance was eighth place overall in 1988.
Memo Rojas: Rojas competed in several editions in the LMP2 category. His best result was third place in his class in 2017, for the G-Drive Racing team.
Ricardo González: Won the LMP2 category in 2013 alongside teammates Martin Plowman and Bertrand Baguette, driving for Oak Racing.
Memo Gidley: Although he was born in the United States, Gidley is of Mexican descent. He participated in 2001, but did not finish the race.
And soon, this June 10 and 11, we will have Esteban Gutiérrez, the ambassador of speed at the Cenomanos.
Happy birthday, great career, and even longer life!