More than quarter of a million spectators make the annual pilgrimage to Le Mans. Watching the modern 24-hour race and the historic support race (this year, Motor Racing Legends presents a grid of Group C racers) seems thrilling enough – but the chance to drive a few laps of the circuit on the Saturday of the Le Mans 24Hrs puts the experience into another category entirely.
For those who long to try for themselves the full 8.5-mile circuit, from the glorious Mulsanne Straight, through the fast, sweeping Porsche Curves and along the pit-straight past the towering spectator grandstands, Motor Racing Legends is unique in being able to offer two ways to achieve this dream.
Le Mans Cavalcade
For those lucky enough to own a genuine Le Mans-type car, the Le Mans Cavalcade laps the circuit at around midday on Saturday – just before the start of the main race. The Cavalcade sees up to 30 cars with Le Mans history stretch their legs in a high-speed parade, in front of the vast crowds, buzzing with excitement as the pre-race atmosphere builds. The parade laps are the culmination of a motoring trip from the UK via rural French roads, staying in the best country hotels along the way.
The cars taking part this year illustrate a great swathe of Le Mans history. There’s ‘GO 51’, the famous 1931 Talbot 105 and the first of the Team cars, driven in all the great races of the period – including Le Mans. Moving forward to 1952, there’s ‘UPL 4’, one of only two remaining ex-works DB3 Aston Martins and a car whose period racing history includes Le Mans, the Mille Miglia, and the Monaco Grand Prix! Or how about the 1978 Ferrari 512BBLM of Nigel Chiltern-Hunt, which ran at Le Mans in both 1979 and 1980 (and topped 204mph on the Mulsanne Straight)?
But for those of us with cherished but less illustrious motors, there’s still a way to drive the full Le Mans circuit. Early on the Saturday morning of the Le Mans 24 Hours, an invited group of cars takes to the circuit behind a pace car. For 2008, the Ferrari Owners’ Club has been asked to put together a ‘grid’ of its members’ cars, and more than 60 Ferraris will assemble on 14th June – from F40 to 355 Spider, F430 to Challenge Stradale, 328GTB to 550 Maranello.
In 2009, Motor Racing Legends will run a multi-marque parade, accepting applications from classic and modern cars – marques with a traditional link to Le Mans, such as Ferrari, Lagonda, Jaguar, Bentley, Austin-Healey, Riley, Morgan and Aston Martin. In addition to the parade laps, drivers can opt for a fully inclusive accommodation package, or just a circuit and hospitality package which covers entrance tickets to the Le Mans 24 Hours; reserved, covered grandstand seats; full circuit hospitality in a private facility with its own garden; a post-parade champagne breakfast, Saturday evening buffet, Sunday barbecue lunch, plus secure and fully guarded circuit parking.