10 Things Every Gearhead Should Know About Le Mans Classic


Le Mans Classic is a classic sports car event that pays tribute to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Held on the grounds of the iconic endurance race, it brings together fans of classic sports cars for a weekend of fun, racing and shows. About 30,000 spectators graced the Circuit de la Sarthe for the inaugural edition in September 2002. Apart from the 2020 edition canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been held every two years since 2002.

Within two decades, it has become one of the highlights of the automotive calendar. As well as on-piste action, there’s no shortage of fun with the countless off-piste activities on offer. With more than 200,000 spectators present, history was written again during the 10th edition of Le Mans Classic. Here are 10 things every enthusiast should know about this biennial classic sports car event.

ten Held on the original Le Mans circuit

To fully capture the essence of the 24 Hours endurance race it honors, the Classic also takes place on the same full circuit. Measuring 8,467 miles, the Circuit de la Sarthe, located in Le Mans, France, is one of the longest racecourses in the world.

Although other racing events are held at the iconic track, it is best known for the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. The full track layout which incorporates some public roads was previously only available for the 24-hour race.

9 Exciting tickets for all tastes

Many ticketing options and packages are available at Le Mans Classic. All types of tickets give access to all events, exhibitor villages, club grounds and all public spaces. With premium tickets, you can either enjoy stunning views of the start line and the Dunlop Curve, or sit front row above the start line.

Meals, drinks, private parking, VIP shuttle service and access to the paddocks are some advantages of premium tickets. In addition, you can also benefit from a guided tour of the paddock, a discovery tour of the track or a 10-minute helicopter flight over the circuit.

RELATED: Why the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans Could Be Truly Spectacular

8 The brainchild of Patrick Peter

Le Mans Classic was born out of Patrick Peter’s desire to create a historical retrospective of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Convincing the Automobile Club de l’Ouest to open the entire circuit was one of his biggest hurdles.

But, he finally got the green light after successfully organizing a race with Ferrari in the 2000 24 Hours. Despite opposition from local businesses and the costs of closing the public road, the first edition was launched in September 2002. Although Peter has organized many races, Le Mans Classic is his most successful.

seven Brand clubs are united under the banner of the manufacturer

One of the many attractions at Le Mans Classic is the amazing array of classic cars on display. Automobile clubs are encouraged to attend. In the brand-specific club enclosure, all clubs from the same manufacturer are grouped together under one banner.

In addition to brand clubs, theme clubs with at least 10 cars also have their place in the exhibition area. The elite of the show are the 24 hand-picked cars that make up Le Mans Heritage Club. The cars from this club are all previous cars competing at Le Mans.

RELATED: These Are The 10 Most Innovative Cars To Ever Race In The 24 Hours Of Le Mans

6 The Drive-In brings the theater to the tracks

As well as recreating the history of one of the most popular automotive events, Le Mans Classic also brings together two major industries. The drive-in theater originated in America, where patrons sat in their cars and watched movies on a large outdoor screen.

At Le Mans Classic, the outdoor cinema room offers comfortable deckchairs and headphones. So that everyone can benefit from the entire program, foreign films are shown with French subtitles while French films are subtitled in English. What a way to relax after hours of excitement on the track.

5 Cars are grouped by age

Although the original Le Mans Classic in 2002 featured five grids, the number of grids had since increased to six. Each grid is made up of cars from similar eras of the Le Mans race to ensure they are equal in performance.

For example, grid one consists of 1923-1939 cars while grid two consists of 1949-1956 cars. If one of the 75 cars in a grid withdraws, it can be replaced by one of the 10 reserve cars to which each grid is entitled. With the addition of the sixth grid, the Classic now celebrates the history of the 24 Hours from 1923 to 1981.

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4 Support races add a modern tough to the weekend

To ensure that the weekend is filled with non-stop action, several support races are offered in addition to the six grids. The four support races held in the 2022 edition include the Jaguar Classic Challenge and the Porsche Classic Race Le Mans.

Also on offer are the Group C races of Le Mans cars from 1982 to 1993. Finally, with the Endurance Racing Legends, the Le Mans classic now spans the history of the 24 Hours up to 2010. Over 70 GTs and prototypes from the 1990 and 2000 went wild on the famous track.

3 A perfect place for an auction

Le Mans Classic has exhibit villages where vendors sell automotive-themed items, books, historical relics and more. However, a classic sports car event of this magnitude also attracts serious, deep-pocketed collectors. This is why Artcurial presented more than 130 vintage cars, exceptional motorcycles and automobilia at auction during the 2022 edition.

Top sellers included a 1954 Maserati A6GCS/53 Fiandri Spyder and a 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster. There was also a signed helmet that traded hands for $9,386 and a 1928 Hispano-Suiza Type 49 trainer.

RELATED: 24 Hours of Le Mans: Remembering the coolest race cars from the 2021 event

2 Children are not left out

As well as celebrating the history of 24 Hour racing, Le Mans Classic also celebrates the future of sports car racing. The Little Big Mans features children aged seven to twelve as they “race” over a 2.5 mile course.

It’s always a sight to behold when future helmeted champions sprint towards their cars in a “Le Mans-style” start. Escorted by the police, they drive miniature replicas of real Le Mans cars using petrol or electricity. And just like the big ones, the little drivers have their own paddock and their own Junior Drivers club.

1 Non-stop entertainment for the weekend

The organizers of Le Mans Classic spare no effort to ensure that the dozens of participants are properly entertained throughout the long weekend. Besides the exciting track activities, drive-in cinema and auction, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy, day or night.

You can spend time exploring the shops in the show villages or feasting on the hundreds of unique cars on display. Plus, there are dances, wall of death exhibits, and classic aircraft exhibits to make sure there’s no shortage of fun for everyone.


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