At 4pm on Saturday 10 June next year, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the fourth round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, will celebrate its centenary. Ticket sales have been unprecedented so all the grandstands will be packed full as the world’s biggest endurance race marks one hundred years of history, innovation and entertainment.
A one-of-a-kind exhibition will open its doors at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum on Thursday 1 June. It will bring together over 60 cars that have competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Then, on Friday 2 June, Scrutineering gets underway, marking the start of race week. These technical and administrative checks take place at Place de la République in central Le Mans, and are one of the highlights of the Le Mans experience. Scrutineering continues on Saturday 3 June, followed by a special evening event organised by the town council. This will include a ceremony in honour of the volunteers, track marshals and local authority agents who help make the 24 Hours of Le Mans possible, plus a parade along Avenue du Général Leclerc.
The cars will take to the track on Test Day on Sunday 4 June. In a first for Le Mans, there will be a support race on Test Day, with the Ligier European Series.
Fans are then invited to a special Open Track day on Tuesday 6 June. They will have the chance to visit the garages, collect autographs and watch the Pit Stop Challenge, back for its second year to showcase the mechanics’ skills during a series of wheel changes. A rare opportunity to train the spotlight on these crew members who usually remain behind the scenes! At the end of the day, many of the drivers will be out to meet the public at an autograph session in the town centre.
On Wednesday 7 June, the serious stuff begins! After various support races in the morning (Porsche Carrera Cup, Ferrari Challenge, Road to Le Mans), the first rounds of free practice and qualifying for the 24 Hours of Le Mans get underway. Meanwhile, there will be a huge display of prestigious classic cars in Le Mans town centre. The week’s first concert will take place at the circuit that evening.
Since 2020, Thursday has been Hyperpole day. This spectacular session sees 24 competitors (8 in Hypercar, 8 in LMP2 and 8 in LMGTE Am) go head-to-head on the 13.626-km circuit in a test of sheer speed, unimpeded by the rest of the field. To train the spotlight on amateur drivers, this session is reserved for Bronze drivers in the LMGTE Am class.
Like Tuesday, Friday is all about the fans. After the support races in the morning, the highly acclaimed drivers’ parade will wind its way through Le Mans from 2pm onwards. After that, the track will be open to the public, offering spectators a rare opportunity to step out on the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit. Anyone can come along and explore the track on foot or using an eco-friendly form of transport, such as a bicycle, a kick scooter or rollerskates. And to celebrate the Centenary in fitting style, there will be a big parade at the circuit late in the afternoon, when the most famous cars to have competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be back on track to thrill fans. The day will come to a close with another concert.
The moment everyone will have been waiting for, the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is scheduled for 4pm on Saturday 10 June. Before that, however, there will be an array of festivities to celebrate the Centenary, including a parade of cars and drivers, the Patrouille de France aerial display team, and much more! Saturday will end with the “Centenary Show”, a stunning display of fireworks and drones, followed by an amazing concert.
The race goes on through the night, ending at 4pm on Sunday 11 June. Will Porsche, Ferrari, Toyota, Peugeot, Glickenhaus or Cadillac lift the unique trophy produced by La Monnaie de Paris?
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “The 24 Hours of Le Mans is about to celebrate 100 years of endurance racing, of innovation and undying enthusiasm. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people throng to the track to soak up the unique race atmosphere. A day at Le Mans forms a lifelong memory.The race is deeply rooted in local communities, whose roads and landmarks are household names the world over. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest is pulling out all the stops to offer spectators an outstanding, once-in-a-lifetime experience."
Christelle Morançais, president of the Pays de la Loire regional council: “The 24 Hours of Le Mans is famous the world over, something of which the regional council is very proud. This spring, the people of Pays de la Loire will be able to take part in the centenary celebrations thanks to events organised across the region: a Michel Vaillant exhibition at the Hôtel de Région, an exhibition on the people who work behind the scenes in major railway stations and the finish of the Région Pays de la Loire Tour cycling race at the Bugatti track on 7 April. I would like to thank the ACO, and the councils of Le Mans and La Sarthe for their commitment. At Le Mans, the world witnesses the great things that local people can do when they unite to work towards common causes: sport, culture and technological innovation.”
Dominique Le Mèner, president of Sarthe departmental council: "The 24 Hours of Le Mans has been bringing people together for a hundred years now. The event attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators every year. It’s a testing ground for innovation and an excellent showcase for La Sarthe, with a host of economic repercussions. The magnificent event brings local people together, and fills us with pride. The council will be organising free events, open to all, throughout the department. The centenary celebrations will take the form of driver autograph sessions, film screenings, exhibitions, conferences in schools and public talks. And we will have our customary stand at Place de la République during the scrutineering sessions. I am delighted that the council has contributed to three ambitious projects to improve the venue’s infrastructure, which play a part in publicising the race and ensuring spectator comfort.
Stéphane Le Foll, Mayor of Le Mans: “The 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary race is highly symbolic for the city.Home to pioneers of motoring and aviation, Le Mans boasts a rich industrial heritage and has earned a reputation for excellence in sport and culture, for which it is famous the world over. The 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary will be the opportunity for community celebration, uniting motorsports fans with local people in festivities that will be echoed far and wide. We are delighted to welcome hundreds of thousands of people to our city for the event. Le Mans Métropole and the city council will be playing their part in making it a success, alongside the ACO and the other local coucils.”
SEVERAL THOUSAND GREEN TICKETS SOLD
In line with the ACO’s social responsibility commitments, the Green Ticket introduced this year will be available again. Spectators who use a low-carbon option to travel to the circuit (hybrid, rechargeable hybrid or electric vehicle, train, or carpool) are rewarded with a 10% discount. Several thousand people have already taken up the offer, which is unique in the world for such a large event.