Grids 1 – 6

As the aim is to offer spectators and entrants equally-matched fields in terms of performance and historic pertinence, the 500, or so, racing cars are divided up into six grids, each of which corresponds to a particular period. The cars selected are those that have taken part in the Le Mans 24 Hours between 1923 and 1981. Priority is given to cars that have actually raced in the event in their particular era. For each grid 10 reserve cars take part in the day and night-time practice sessions to be ready to fill a place left by the withdrawal or retirement of another car. A Le Mans-type start as used between 1925 and 1969 will be given for grids 1-2-3-4. Flying starts will be used for the others.

Entry list
Eligible type ListCompetitors’ Documents
Grid 1 : 1923-1939

Pioneers and dust, then the 8 cylinders in line domination

In 1923, everything was still brand new, the very idea of a circuit, which had come to be preferred to city-to-city races, and above all this crazy ambition “to improve the automobile race” with a 24-hour criterium! Most often, it was private competitors, rather than manufacturers, who dared to take part. But this new show soon became very popular and people from all over the world flocked to take part.

Le Mans Classic is an opportunity to rediscover this atmosphere. Some of the participants of grid 1 are 90 years old and more… Most of them have non- synchronised gearboxes… Some only have brakes on the rear wheels, but they exceed 160 km/h on the Mulsanne straight… All of them are pushed to their limits!

If you are lucky enough to line up a “pre-war” car at Le Mans Classic, on the great circuit of its exploits, you will not forget it, and neither will the public.

Grid 2 : 1949-1956

The Greens are back!

The resumption after a ten-year hiatus saw the disappearance of many brands in favour of new ones such as Jaguar and Ferrari, which were increasing their capacity and establishing their dominance.

It was the Italian manufacturer that won the first post-war race. However, the 1950s were undeniably the Jaguar years, with the C and D types leading the way, while Talbot (1950) and Mercedes (1952) fought hard to defend their victory.

Le Mans remains THE rendezvous for the motorsport sorcerers, passionate amateurs who prepared for the race for a whole year to enjoy a mere 24 hours of glory. Their specials, often in their own name, consisted of anything they could lay their hands on from the biggest Delahaye engines to the little Panhards which, under the bonnet of the Monopoles and DBs, frequently won the much-coveted ‘Index of Performance’.

Grid 3 : 1957-1961

The Reds’ years!

After enslaving the 1000 Miglia, Ferrari impresses Le Mans with seven victories from 1958 onwards, a year when 15 hours are fought in wet weather and three in an impressive flood…

In 1959, confirming their success at the Nürburgring, Aston Martin manage to slip in with a first and only victory at Le Mans. The British firm does not repeat the following year despite the remarkable achievement of two of its cars being among the 13 survivors out of 55 entries…

In 1961, Ferrari equals Bentley and Jaguar with a fifth victory.

Grid 4 : 1962-1965

Ferrari at the front and America at the throttle…

In 1962, Ferrari monopolises the podium and becomes the most titled manufacturer in the Sarthe; whereas, after four victories in eight participations, Olivier Gendebien announces his well-deserved retirement. This same year, 11 GTs are among the first 13.
Le Mans discovers the turbine in 1963 with a BRM/Rover which will be back in 1965. The victory goes to Ferrari, but Ford and a Lola GT make a notable entrance on Le Mans turf coming back the very next year with three GT40s and two Cobra Daytonas. Phil Hill gives Ford a new track record!

Even though Ferrari takes their ninth victory in 1965, it was an American one since the 275 LM was from the N.A.R.T. team (North American Racing Team)!

Grid 5 : 1966-1971

A Ford Victory, but Porsche copes!

No later than 1966, the mid-engine takes the lead. Ford strikes the Cavallino down with a spectacular fight, keeping the whole 1966 podium for itself.

1967 sees the 24 Hours of the Century, with the most breathtaking grid ever. This year, also of all the records, leads the Sporting Authorities to regulate the prototypes’ capacity.

The American giant is back with more of the same in 1968, then again in 1969. The GT40 star has earned its stripes…

Then Porsche shifts gear and begins a series of records still to be equaled (24 hours with a 222.3km/h average speed).

Grid 6 : 1972-1981

Ford confirms, Matra stands out, Porsche takes off…

In 1972, a change of regulations put the 917s out to pasture. The Matra V12s were built and took over with three victories for Henri Pescarolo and off they went…

1975 was the Gulf Mirage’s year (1st & 3rd ), which allowed John Wyer to join the very exclusive Endurance Masters Club. This was also the first of Jacky Ickx’s consecutive triple wins, which put the Belgian champion equal with compatriot Olivier Gendebien for the record of victories. The record was broken in 2013 by Tom Christensen with nine victories.

In 1978, it was France’s turn to stand out on home ground. Renault was ever present, winning hands down. Firstly, the Alpine driven by Frenchmen Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud held off Porsche from start to finish. Meanwhile, another French driver, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, broke the track record.

The following year the circuit was modified just before the Ferrari BBLMs and BMW M1s turned up and Porsche strung together a collection of triumphs, which is yet to be equaled.