Le Mans, 24 hrs, and a museum!

So let me bring you to more familiar territory in terms of region and things to see.  I have written before on Le Mans a wonderful old town with many things to see and do and not far from Paris. However, today , I will concentrate on something I have followed since my University days, auto racing ,and Le Mans is one of the best in the world.

This old fortified city of Le Mans, in the Sarthe dept 72 in Pays de la Loire region has a lot more than just historical monuments. For all as well as the one presented here you can look up the tourist office of Le Mans here: https://www.lemans-tourisme.com/en/

However, let me get into the meat of the matter of this post, long overdue by yours truly!

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a 24-hour car race, taking place in June (usually the twenty-fourth week of the year) on a road circuit, south of the city of Le Mans. This event takes place since 1923. The race has, over the years, inspired similar races all over the world and popularized the 24-hour format especially at Daytona Beach Fl USA (where I used to lived nearby and went several times). The American Le Mans Series and Le Mans Series championships have been spun off from the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

le Mans

The race came about when in 1920, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest or Western Automobile Club, worked on the realization of a competition whose character was to contribute to the evolution of the technical progress and to favor the development of the automobile.  In 1922, the club announced the creation of a new type of competition in the Sarthe, an endurance race, while the Bol d’Or Automobile was just created. During the race, crews of two drivers per car would take turns day and night.  The track, measuring almost 14 km takes part of the Bugatti circuit and includes a large part of the roads D323 and D338. The most famous passages are the bends of Tertre Rouge, Mulsanne, Arnage and the straight Hunaudières, almost 6 km long where the prototypes previously maintained a speed of nearly 400 km / h for one minute. This portion of the circuit was divided into three straight lines by the installation of two baffles in 1990. These baffles are intended to limit the search for the maximum speed by too great reductions in aerodynamic support and therefore to limit the differences speed between competitors.  The cars categories participating in this event are divided into several categories such as “LM” means Le Mans, “LM P” Le Mans Prototype, “GTE” Grand Touring Endurance, “Pro” Professional and ” Am ” Amateur.

Le Mans

The 24 heures du Mans race course official webpage in English is here :  https://www.lemans.org/en/24-hours-of-le-mans

There is a super museum which is a must to see while visiting Le Mans and especially a must for all cars/motos aficionados.  The Musée des 24 Heures du Mans is a bit outside the city center. It is located right next to the circuit of races for the famous car race the 24 hours of Le Mans. From the city center we went out into the D357 road and hook up with the D338 (Blvd Gen Patton) to rue de Laigné turn right  the panels leading you to the museum. Of course from Paris you will take direction Angers get on the D323 road and follow signs to museum.

le mans

The museum was initially name the  Sarthe Automobile Museum, renamed the 24 Hours Museum – Circuit de la Sarthe in 2009, then Museum of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2017, and is located near the main entrance of the Circuit des 24 Heures, Le Mans.

Built on 6,500 m2 (including 5,000 m2 of exhibition), the building includes a collection of vehicles including fifteen winners of the legendary race of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The specificity of the museum is to focus its collection on competition vehicles, with about forty racing cars, some of which sometimes come directly from the nearby track. Composed of six sections, the museum exhibits one hundred and twenty vehicles , and a few motorcycles. It presents, besides the history of the automobile in general, the circuit and the race, its heroes, its actors, its growths and its widening wings.

le mans

It is open to private collector cars as well. A collection of 4236 1/43 scale model cars representing all the cars that have participated in the race since 1923 and several historical dioramas are presented. In addition to racing cars, there are the original models of several Bollée cars and the 1885 De Dion Bouton Dog Cart, a unique steam model owned by a private museum. Some vehicles are loaned by their owners as well as by manufacturers. Cultural and educational activities complement, with guided tours, the boutique, and temporary exhibitions, are offers. The museum is set up along a path consisting of the heroes, great car racing folks, then the Legend on the history of the race, then the genius of the car developments, the side pit stops story, the history in technical terms and the actors or the cars themselves.

le mans

The museum was created in 1961 at the initiative of the Western Automobile Club and the General Council of Sarthe. Initially, it was located in the heart of the circuit in the village where are found, during races, the shops of manufacturers, suppliers and equipment manufacturers. The current buildings of the Museum were inaugurated in 1991. The main structure is inflected, spaced and tense. The aluminum wing-shaped cover is underpinned by twenty-eight tubular steel beams. In 2016, the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) buys the museum from the department to make it the starting point of a car park project after its redevelopment. In all , a wonderful place for the whole family.

le mans

le mans

Check for the times and dates as on holidays the museum is closed. The official museum webpage is here: https://www.lemans-musee24h.com/en

There you go something modern in a very old city of Le Mans for all tastes to enjoy the wonderful Sarthe dept 72 of the lovely region of Pays de la Loire ,and my belle France. Hope you enjoy the post.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “Le Mans, 24 hrs, and a museum!”

  1. I drove partly on the circuit and it felt special. Next time I’ll stop for the museum 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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