The 24 hours of Le Mans is one of the oldest and greatest motor racing events in the world. The first race was held on public roads around Le Mans and along the river Sarthe in 1923. Nowadays it attracts over 250,000 spectators and 2500 journalists each year. Up until 1970 the race began with a standing start, in which once the flag had been dropped, the drivers had to run across the track to their cars. This year the race will be held on 21 and 22 August instead of the usual end of June date. There are various racing classes, the top one being the Hypercar class. The circuit was modernized in 2018. That was long overdue because of the numerous dramatic crashes. Up to that time the cars reached speeds of just under 400 km/h.
The 24 hours of Le Mans, the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix form the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’, which is regarded as the ultimate achievement. Fernando Alonso, Jacques Villeneuve en Juan Pablo Montoya were close, but Graham Hill (father of Damon Hill) is the only person to have won all three races.
In the Louwman Museum we have a large number of the winners of this 24-hour event. Each has a great story to tell. And with competitors that appeal to the imagination. But some of the cars have were witness to not so great circumstances, such as the Ferrari 750 Monza Scaglietti that took part in the disastrous race in 1955…Read more
Bentley took part right from the very first 24-hour race in 1923. The following year in 1924 Bentley took the first of a total of 5 victories. A Bentley 4½ litre Vanden Plas won Le Mans in 1928. The car on display was built by Bentley for private customers.Read more
The legendary racing driver Louis Chiron from Monaco took part in the 1933 Le Mans race in this car. That year Alfa Romeo had sold its racing division to former works driver Enzo Ferrari, who established his own team, the ‘Scuderia Ferrari’.Read more
This Lagonda V12 came first in its class at Le Mans in 1939. Technical Director Bentley modified the V12 to increase the power output from 180 hp to 206 hp. The car was given starting number 5, hence its nickname ‘Old Number 5’.Read more
This Lagonda M45R won Le Mans in 1935 despite having hardly any oil left in its engine and with damaged steering caused by a collision with a spinning Aston Martin in torrential rain. This Lagonda is completely original, even the upholstery has never been replaced.Read more
In 1981 Nimrod Racing Automobiles produced five Group C racing cars, using a chassis built by Lola with a 5.3 litre, eight-cylinder engine prepared by tuning company Tickford. A Nimrod finished in seventh place at Le Mans in 1982. The company went bankrupt in 1983.Read more
In 1957 this Jaguar D-Type XKD 606 won the 24 hours of Le Mans. The XKD 606 had achieved a hat-trick for Jaguar in 1957, with three consecutive Le Mans wins. The car covered a record 4,397 kilometres at an average speed of 183 km/h, a record which remained unbroken for four years.Read more
In 1992 Toyota entered the Le Mans race with a new TS010 and finished in second place. For 1993 event, 3 new, lighter and more powerful versions were built, including the one on display in the museum, driven by Dutch driver, Jan Lammers.Read more
This Mazda 737C, fitted with a twin-rotor Wankel engine, came third in its class at Le Mans in 1985. It marked the beginning of a successful period for Mazda: in 1991 Mazda became overall winner of the Le Mans race with a four-rotor Wankel-engined 787B.Read more