What is The 24 Hours of Le Mans Race?

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the main racing events in the world. Despite its long history, its prestige remains intact.
What is The 24 Hours of Le Mans Race?

Last update: 01 March, 2019

The 24 hours of Le Mans is the endurance star event in the world of motorsports. Winning this race along with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 is considered the Triple Crown of motorsports.

The history of the 24 hours of Le Mans

The 24 hours of Le Mans race has been celebrated since 1923. From its beginning, the goal has been to find the most reliable car. Since then, the only time when it didn’t happen was in 1936 due to economic motives and during the Second World War.

A 24 Hours Of Le Mans race

During the early years, this race was consecutive for three days. The driver who completed the most miles during those 72 hours, was declared the winner.

Another factor that’s changed over time is the number of drivers who compete. Previously, only one driver could compete. Nowadays, it’s mandatory that  three drivers drive  each vehicle, for safety reasons.

This mythical race has always taken place in the Circuit de la Sarthe, but the ACO modified the track for safety reasons and adapted it for modern cars.

The race

The competition starts at 4 pm and continues until the same hour of the next day. Around 60 cars compete, and three  drivers take turns to drive  each car every 8-hours. The winner is the one that drove the most miles in 24 hours.

The cars are divided into four types:

  • LMP1: these are the most powerful and expensive cars. They’re specifically made for this race, so they have every possible chance of winning. Their drivers are professionals and have a background in motorsports.
  • LMP2: just like the LMP1, the vehicles are also specifically made for this race, but they’re not so powerful and not all of their drivers are professionals.
  • LM GTE Pro: is usually the category with fewer people in it. The cars derive from GT and their drivers are professionals.
  • LM GTE am: just like the category above, the vehicles also derive from GT, with the difference that the drivers are amateurs.
A professional car race

The circuit

This prestigious competition takes place in the Circuit de la Sarthe. It’s 13,629 meters long and a semi-permanent race course, in the city of Le Mans. That’s why people refer to it as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Many people don’t know the name of the circuit.

The most popular areas of the circuit are:

  • La ligne doite de Hunaudiéres: it’s the longest part of the circuit, approximately 5 kilometers, where the cars reach a speed close to 400km/h. There have been many accidents here, so the ACO put two chicanes there, to reduce the speed and prevent accidents.
  • Dunlop bridge: one of the most popular points of the circuit and the one that on many occasions dominates the images of the race.


Traditionally, the 24 hours of Le Mans race takes place in June. This changed in 1956 and 1968 when it took place in July and September, respectively. The 2018 edition will be race number 86 and it’ll also take place on the 16th and 17th of June.

Best drivers and cars

Throughout history, Porsche has been the biggest winner in the 24 hours of Le Mans race, with a total of 19 victories. Followed by Audi, with 13 and Ferrari with 9.

As drivers, Tom Kristensen stands out: 9 victories, 6 of them consecutive, and almost all of them with an Audi. During the 85 editions, many Spaniards have participated in the race, such as Antonio Garcia, Marc Gené and Emilio de Villota.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.