A Guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2022)

A Guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1)

24 Hours of Le Mans 2011 - Race - Ferrari 458 Italia #51 │© Alessandro Prada / Flickr

A Guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2)

Paul McQueen

17 February 2017


The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the most demanding automobile race in the world. Teams of three drivers battle to complete the most laps of the 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe in one full day. Every June, it attracts hundreds of thousands of motorsport fans to the small town that lends the event its name. If you plan on joining them, follow our guide for maximum enjoyment.

(Video) 24 Hours of Le Mans EXPLAINED! | A beginner's guide!

Le Mans has always been about experimentation and pushing the automobile to its limits. The organizers of the inaugural event in 1923, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, hoped that an endurance race would help them understand which technologies were most beneficial for improving early car models. The Frenchmen André Lagache and René Léonard won with 128 laps and an average speed of 57 mph.

The cars and the course have both changed markedly since then. By the late-1980s, top speeds exceeded 250 mph and chicanes had to be added to ensure the safety of drivers and spectators. Today, drivers reach around 205 mph on the straights.

The Danish driver Tom Kristensen holds the record for race titles with a total of nine victories, six of which were consecutive between 2000 and 2005.

A Guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (3)

24 Hours of Le Mans, 1923 │ | © D.A.S. / WikiCommons ; Crowds at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 1923 │| Agence Rol / WikiCommons

24 Hours of Le Mans, 1923 │© D.A.S. / WikiCommons ; Crowds at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 1923 │© Agence Rol / WikiCommons

Most people camp at sites around the circuit and there are nine sites that correspond roughly to the major points of interest on the circuit.

Le Mans hasn’t yet embraced glamping so if spending seven nights, or even one, with only a thin layer of canvas between you and the elements doesn’t sound overly appealing, then you can check into the ibis Styles Le Mans Centre Gare or the Novotel Le Mans.

A Guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (4)

Campsite │ | © david mcbee / Pexels

(Video) Conhecendo o circuito das 24 horas de Le Mans - Track guide Le Mans


A bus service runs on the weekend of the race from 8:30AM on Saturday to 6:30PM on Sunday. It connects the circuit to the town center and a bus leaves every 10-15 minutes.


The service runs between 5:30AM to 1:00AM and it takes 20 minutes to get from the town center to the circuit. The best stops to hop on are Antres Sud and Guetteloup. A ride costs €1.40.


Free buses and circuit trains run between key points throughout the duration of the race. There are also services on the Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

A Guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (5)

Audi R8 vs Le Mans tram | © Alessandro Prada / Flickr

Fan Village

This section of the race complex is well supplied with bars and food stands. The prices are reasonable and the quality of food better than you might expect but the lines do tend to lengthen considerably as race time nears.


If you are camping, you will most likely be barbecuing at some point as well. Cooking your own merguez and burgers is kind of a Le Mans tradition so don’t be shy about giving it a go.

Restaurants and bars in Le Mans

For traditional French cuisine head to La Chamade in the old town and for something a little more modern, try La Villa in the Place de la République or Le Grenier à Sel. L’Endroit is a chilled bar in the town center where you can order in food from the pizzeria across the road.

A Guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (6)

BBQ │ | © Tookapic / Pexels

Given its full name, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Le Mans was just a one-day affair. In fact, the festivities typically last from Sunday to Sunday.

Autograph sessions

The main autograph session takes place on Tuesday before the hordes descend on the town. While you can spot famous faces from the past and present throughout the week, this is your best chance to grab them for a chat.

(Video) 24 Hours of LE MANS Beginners Guide! All you need to know!

Mad Friday

The day kicks off with the pit walk that starts at 10AM and finishes at 8PM. The cars and garages remain behind barriers but you won’t get any closer to them than this.

The next event is the Parade des Pilotes which takes place between 5:30PM and 7:30PM. The drivers are paraded through the town center in vintage open-top cars amid marching bands and flag-waving cheerleaders. More than 100,000 people line the streets so it’s best to arrive on foot and not be too precious about personal space.

A Guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (7)

Kazuki Nakajima, Toyota WEC driver and 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans polesitter │ | © Nic Redhead / Flickr

After the parade, most people head to the bars. Most of the time, the antics (cheering crowds and revving engines) remain totally harmless but be sure to keep your wits about you, especially if you’re traveling alone.

Ferris wheel, funfairs, and concerts

From the top of the big wheel, you get an amazing view of the town, the circuit, and the surrounding campsites. There are also now two funfairs where you can unburden yourself of spare change. There are also live music events behind the main grandstand for three nights prior to the race.

A Guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (8)

Ferris wheel 24 Hours of Le Mans, 2014 │ | © Emmanuel Eragne/Flickr

Ferris wheel 24 Hours of Le Mans, 2014 │© Emmanuel Eragne / Flickr

You don’t need to have a weekend pass for the grandstand to enjoy the race. In fact, even if you have a ticketed seat, it’s best to move around and see the race from different perspectives.

Start/Finish Straight

For the first and last minutes of the race, the stone steps in front of the grandstand will be mobbed. It’s also the point of entry to the circuit for viewing the trophy ceremony. However, during the race, this area offers free seating.

Tertre Rouge

The large grassy slopes here provide a good view of the track and there is now a large screen on which you can watch the action going on elsewhere.

Arnage Corner

The 90-degree right-hand turn guarantees amazing driving action so make a point of getting over here at some point. The bus transfer is your best bet for transportation.

(Video) A Beginners Guide to the 2022 24 hours of Le Mans

Porsche Curves

This is the drivers’ favorite part of the circuit because the sweeping curves require expert precision of speed and handling. The public viewing area is accessed through the Beausejour campsite.

A Guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (9)

Circuit de la Sarthe track map │ | © Will Pittenger / WikiCommons

Radio Le Mans

If you are a fan of the event, the chances are that you’re already familiar the broadcasts on 91.2 FM. Nevertheless, there’s something thrilling about tuning in and knowing just how close you are to the action.

Le Mans Museum

Located at the north entrance, the museum houses amazing classic cars and memorabilia from past events. The gift shop is also a great place to pick up a souvenir.

A Guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (10)

Mazda 787B at Le Musee des 24 Heures, (Winner Le Mans 24 Hours 1991, only Japanese manufactured car and only rotary engine car to win Le Mans │ | © David Merrett / Flickr


Head to the Place Saint-Nicolas to see the handprint plaques of past winners and the monuments erected to the most legendary drivers. It’s usually quiet except during the parade.

Collectible beer glasses

Each event is accompanied by 10 different designs of plastic beer glasses, just in case you needed any extra encouragement to get those drinks down you.

Sunday morning sunrise

This might seem like a bit of a misty-eyed pursuit to recommend on the side of all the high-octane racing but there is an enormous sense of satisfaction to be had from watching the sun come up on the final day of a week-long event.


How do you beat Le Mans 24 Hours? ›

Unlike fixed-distance races whose winner is determined by minimum time, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is won by the car that covers the greatest distance in 24 hours. The cars on this track can go up to 366 km/h (227 mph), and in prior events reaching 405 km/h (252 mph) before track modifications.

How hard is the 24 Hours of Le Mans? ›

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is auto racing's Boston Marathon, a brutal test of endurance where competitors race stunningly fast cars for 24 straight hours at speeds that can exceed 200 mph on the fastest section of the incredibly long 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe road course.

Do drivers sleep during Le Mans? ›

Clearly, the drivers do try and sleep where they can but it's obviously not ideal, even if the teams bring beds to their motorhomes in a bid to help them nod off. Whoever manages it best this weekend, then, could be earning victory come Sunday afternoon.

How long does it take to do one lap of Le Mans? ›

Kobayashi managed to circle the famed street circuit in just under 3 minutes and 15 seconds at an average speed of almost 157 mph. The fastest lap during competition was set by Mike Conway, also driving the TS050, in 2019 with a lap of 3 minutes 17.297 seconds.

Are Le Mans cars faster than F1? ›

LMP1 cars are able to accelerate much faster than F1 cars, which means they can comfortably win in a drag race. However, F1 cars are lighter and produce more downforce, making them faster in corners and over a full lap.

What's the fastest lap at Le Mans? ›

The average speed of the fastest lap in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, recorded in 2017 by Kamui Kobayashi in the Toyota TS050 Hybrid during qualifying. He completed the 13.629-km lap in 3:14.791. The top speed attained on the circuit by Roger Dorchy in a WM P88 on the Mulsanne Straight in 1988.

How do endurance drivers stay awake? ›

We use light therapy lamps to stay awake and exercise bikes and warm up routines to get into the swing of things. We force our bodies to wake up." Driving at race pace is so taxing that drivers have trouble getting to sleep after a stint at the wheel.

Do Le Mans drivers listen to music? ›

Drivers do not listen to music when they are racing because it would distract and hinder their ability to hear essential radio instructions or noises from the car.

Is Le Mans worth visiting? ›

So, is Le Mans worth visiting? Yes, Le Mans is worth seeing. We advise you to visit Le Mans, a city full of history, two hours from Paris. In addition to the famous 24 hours of Le Mans, the city will enchant you with the richness of its architecture, its gardens, and its medieval heart.

How do drivers eat during Le Mans? ›

To make a long story short, drivers eat whatever they can handle in the car. They try to stay away from anything that is acidic ." One of the drivers' priorities is managing their meals and the time between each ones.

Do endurance race car drivers wear diapers? ›

The simple answer is that drivers in NASCAR do not wear diapers. The wearing of them even lends itself to safety hazards. The material composition of a diaper can pose a flammability risk.

Can you buy a Le Mans car? ›

This would be the ultimate piece of functioning automotive art. Audi produces some pretty special cars at the moment, and it's not difficult to find something in the brand's lineup that will impress your friends.

What is the average speed at 24 Hours of Le Mans? ›

In a 24-hour race a team is always made up of several drivers. Back then, Dalmas together with two teammates, the Italian driver Pierluigi Martini and the German Joachim Winkelhock, covered an incredible 4,967.991 kilometres; including pit stops, this is an average speed of 207 km/h.

How many miles do they cover in the 24 Hours of Le Mans? ›

It takes a special type of crazy to drive more than 3,000 miles in a single day. But since 1923, that's exactly what teams have done at France's annual 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.

What is the top speed on the Mulsanne straight? ›

The fastest-ever top speed recorded on the Mulsanne straight was 405km/h by Roger Dorchy in a WM Peugeot P88, but that was in 1988 when the chicanes weren't introduced yet. Unless the chicanes are removed, there is no way that the record will be broken.

What is the 0 to 60 of a F1 car? ›

Formula 1. F1 cars accelerate from 0 – 60mph in roughly 2.6 seconds. This might seem slow given their top speed, however as a lot of their speed comes from the aerodynamics (which works better the quicker the car is going), they can't unleash full power from a standing start.

What is the fastest racing league? ›

The starting point is F1. There's no question that it's the fastest category in the world.

Why didn't Ken Miles win Le Mans? ›

This is because race officials ruled that since Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon started the race further back, they therefore covered a greater distance in the same time. The bungled photo finish resulted in Ken Miles being denied the coveted chance of winning Sebring, Daytona, and Le Mans all in the same year.

What is the fastest F1 car? ›

Of all of the racing cars that have graced F1, the Ferrari SF70H is one of the fastest and most iconic F1 cars of all time. So much so that it's a coveted prize by many athletes on and off the track! This beauty was designed and constructed by Scuderia Ferrari for the 2017 F1 season.

Who was the oldest driver at Le Mans? ›

Luigi Chinetti is the oldest Le Mans winner; he was 47 years, 11 months and 9 days old when he won the 1949 event. Wurz is the event's youngest winner; he was 22 years, 4 months and 1 day old when he won the 1996 race.
Gr.6 3.0Group 6 S Sports 3-litre
8 more rows

How long can a driver drive at Le Mans? ›

How long do 24 Hours of Le Mans drivers drive for? Driver changes are crucial to succeeding at 24 Hours of Le Mans - teams must rotate through three drivers during the race. During the 24 hours, no driver can be in the car for more than 14 hours, and drivers tend to drive for between 45 minutes and four hours.

How long is a stint in the Rolex 24? ›

The 24 Hours of Daytona, also known as the Rolex 24 At Daytona for sponsorship reasons, is a 24-hour sports car endurance race held annually at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.
24 Hours of Daytona.
WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
Corporate sponsorRolex
First race1962
Duration24 hours
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How many drivers does a Rolex 24 have? ›

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The field for the 60th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona is overloaded with racing talent. More than 230 drivers representing 61 cars – the most for the race since 2014 – are on the entry list.

Can F1 drivers be female? ›

No woman has raced in a world championship F1 race since Lella Lombardi's 12th place in the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix which ended her brief 17-grand prix spell across 1974-76 – still by far the longest racing career in F1 for any female driver.

Do F1 drivers drink water? ›

To answer this age-old question, yes! Formula 1 drivers can and do drink water to stay hydrated. It is part of survival in the physically draining sport such as Formula 1.

Can F1 drivers smoke? ›

As the drivers have their personal preferences, some smoked in private, whereas some were public in their approach. A few big names who smoked are the seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, James Hunt, Kimi Raikkonen, Jules Bianchi, and of course 2016 F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg and his father Keke Rosberg.

What parts of Le Mans can you drive? ›

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a non-permanent racetrack that includes public roads open to the public the rest of the year, so anyone can drive along the legendary Mulsanne Straight! Likewise the section that stretches from Mulsanne Corner to the Porsche Curves.

What is Le Mans in English? ›

Le Mans in British English

(French lə mɑ̃ ) noun. a city in NW France: scene of the first experiments in motoring and flying; annual motor race.

Can I visit Le Mans race track? ›

Every week from April to September, visitors to Le Mans will be able to take a guided tour of the town's famous race tracks. This is a great opportunity to get a glimpse behind the scenes and learn more about the history of the world famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Visit the site of the 24 Hours of Le Mans!

Why do they run to the cars in Le Mans? ›

A Le Mans-style start was used for many years in various types of motor racing. When the start flag dropped, drivers had to run across the track to their cars which were parked on the other side, climb in, start the car, and drive away to begin the race.

What do race car drivers eat for breakfast? ›

F1 drivers typically eat high-protein breakfasts that are fairly light so that they don't feel bloated before the race. This might consist of things like eggs or protein-rich cereals. They might also eat some slow releasing carbohydrates like bread, and healthy fats like avocado.

What do race car drivers avoid on race day? ›

Even now, NASCAR drivers avoid $50 bills at all costs, especially on race day. Dale Earnhardt (2010), for one, made no bones about his dislike of $50 bills.

How many hours can you wear a diaper? ›

Normally, diapers should be changed every 2-3 hours. Do not let the baby have the diaper on for more than several hours or wait until the diaper feels wet before changing the baby. If the baby defecates, the diaper should be changed immediately and the baby should be cleaned every time before putting on a new diaper.

What do race car drivers do if they have to pee? ›

“Well, you do go to the bathroom,” he told Fox Sports. “Yeah, so if you can hold it, you hold it. If you can't hold it, you go.” However, while everyone reacts differently on the racetrack, Earnhardt Jr. claims that presenting these problems is part of the preparation.

How do race car drivers stay cool? ›

“We run two fans and a carbon monoxide filter that filters the air to his helmet. The air is taken from the outside of the race car through a duct, filtered in through a house then through the carbon monoxide filter into a small fan. It's then pushed into the top of his helmet, and that's what keeps his head cool.”

How much does it cost to race at Le Mans? ›

The entry fee is also something to consider, it's around 23 and a half thousand pounds for British GT. If you converted your GT3 car to GTE spec and decided to take on the European Le Mans Series, the price is 74 thousand.

How much do gentlemen drivers pay? ›

Some teams have two gentleman drivers footing the bills, which works out to about $1,000,000 per driver, per season. Other teams with a solo gentleman driver could pay anywhere from $2,000,000 on up. That cost covers everything for a season.

What do you get for winning Le Mans? ›

The overall winner receives €40,000, second place receives €25,000 and third place receives €20,000. Of course, no driver will become a millionaire, but the honor of winning this race is undoubtedly worth more than any prize.

How do you get around Le Mans? ›

Getting to the circuit
  1. By road.
  2. By train. There are several high-speed rail links to Le Mans, from Paris, the major cities in the west of France (Nantes and Rennes) as well as Lyon, Lille, Marseille and Montpellier. ...
  3. By public transport. ​Tramway: ...
  4. Taxi. Radio Taxis Le Mans 24/7 - Tel: +33 (0)2 43 24 92 92. ...
  5. Aerodrome.
16 Aug 2021

Did Ken Miles win Le Mans? ›

Through his work for Carroll Shelby, Miles got involved in Ford's GT racing program. Miles won the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1966, and he placed second at Le Mans. Miles died in a crash while testing Ford's J-Car later that year.

Who won the 2021 Le Mans race? ›


How do I get to Le Mans? ›

Le Mans is served by a train station just to the south of the city centre. Gare du Mans is approximately a one hour walk to the circuit, or a 15-minute taxi journey. This makes getting the train to Le Mans from France and Europe simple. There are a number of rail links to Le Mans from many large cities in France.

Is Le Mans worth visiting? ›

So, is Le Mans worth visiting? Yes, Le Mans is worth seeing. We advise you to visit Le Mans, a city full of history, two hours from Paris. In addition to the famous 24 hours of Le Mans, the city will enchant you with the richness of its architecture, its gardens, and its medieval heart.

Can you walk around the Le Mans circuit? ›

Holders of a General Enclosure ticket will be able to enjoy an array of activities and visit the garages, while other key spots around the circuit (from Tertre Rouge to the Porsche Curves) will open free of charge to anyone using an eco-friendly form of transport, such as walking, cycling, a kick scooter or ...

Can you drive on the Le Mans circuit? ›


The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a non-permanent racetrack that includes public roads open to the public the rest of the year, so anyone can drive along the legendary Mulsanne Straight! Likewise the section that stretches from Mulsanne Corner to the Porsche Curves.

Did Shelby make Ford cry? ›

11/16 The Speed And Power That Made Henry Ford II Cry

In the movie, Shelby locks Beebe in and hauls away Henry Ford II in the prototype to show him what the GT40 can do. In the movie, it makes Henry Ford II cry.

Why did Miles lose the Le Mans race? ›

And, in the end, that's how Ken Miles, who's played by Christian Bale, does end up in that driver's seat in the sky. He dies in a tragic crash at the end of the movie—after he's cheated out of a first place win at Le Mans because of a botched PR plan.

Who really won the 1966 Le Mans race? ›

On the 55th anniversary of Bruce's win at Le Mans, it's worth recalling that Bruce McLaren contested the event on eight occasions, winning at his sixth attempt in 1966, at the wheel of a works Ford.

Has Toyota ever won Le Mans? ›

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing stormed to victory in the 90th Le Mans 24 Hours to extend its winning run to five at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe. Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa drove a brilliant race in their #8 GR010 HYBRID, completing 380 laps to take the chequered flag in front of a passionate crowd.

Who won the 2022 Le Mans race? ›

Aston Martin won the Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance Am (LMGTE AM) class with an TF Sport-run Aston Martin Vantage GTE shared by Henrique Chaves, Ben Keating and Marco Sørensen winning by 44.446 seconds from WeatherTech Racing's Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Julien Andlauer, Cooper MacNeil and Thomas Merrill.

Who is leading 2022 Lemans? ›

Sébastien Buemi

What type of cars race at Le Mans? ›

The Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance (referred to as LMGTE) categories came into being in 2011 and include racing cars derived from street models for everyday road use from some of the most prestigious luxury car manufacturers: Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche.

Is Ford racing in Le Mans 2022? ›

Ford Mustang Headed Back to Le Mans – This Time, with the All-New Seventh-Generation. DETROIT, Sept. 14, 2022 – The Ford Mustang, fresh off its seventh generation unveiling, will soon return to Le Mans.

Is the Le Mans race televised? ›

The 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is scheduled for June 11-12 at the famous Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. The endurance classic is being televised live in its entirety in the U.S. and Canada.


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