Originally known as The Grand Prix of Endurance. Just like the basis of auto racing in general, the initial purpose of this race was to showcase the durability and endurance of production vehicles, especially including the durability of headlights. Nowadays, this race take their headlamps for granted and concentrate more on long term high speed travel and aerodynamics. The 24 hours of Le Mans is quite possibly the most grueling endurance race held annually in the world. Car companies and models have come to fame and shame with this one race, producing some of the fastest cars in the world, both in acceleration and top speed. As the name suggests, the race lasts for exactly twenty four hours and whoever has completed the most laps and is in the lead after this time has expired is the winner. The tracks have changed in distance and location, to add variety to the race, but each still uses circut and city streets of Le Mans France. The first race was held in 1923 and have basically continued yearly from then on. (The race was cancelled in 1936, and from 1940-48). Driving teams consist of two drivers, but since 1977, teams have had the option of using three drivers. Although this was not necessary, it was just more spectacular to view. I still think it is amazing how every little detail plays a major role with each vehicle, from aerodynamics and air foils to the driver's exhaustion.

It is interesting how the ideaology of the choice of cars to use have reversed over the years of this race. Originally, production cars were taken to this track to see how well they fared. Now, car companies practically create cars just for this race; however, all the cars used in this race must be production or prototype for the "public"! This is why there are actually 5 Dauer 962s out there somewhere on the streets. Actually, I believe the only one in the United States is owned by Ralph Lauren, so you go call him to ask for a test drive.

Winners and circut lengths since 1923:

Year    Car                          Distance driven

Circut: = 17.262 km

1923    CHENARD & WALCKER SPORT      2209.536 km
1924    BENTLEY SPORT                2077.340 km
1925    LORRAINE-DIETRICH B3-6       2233.982 km
1926    LORRAINE-DIETRICH B3-6       2552.414 km
1927    BENTLEY SPORT                2369.807 km    Back in the day,
1928    BENTLEY                      2669.272 km    When Bentley was young

CIRCUIT  = 16.340 km

1929    BENTLEY SPEED SIX            2843.830 km
1930    BENTLEY SPEED SIX            2930.663 km
1931    ALFA ROMEO 8C                3017.654 km    Alfa Romeo's legacy here
1932    ALFA ROMEO 8C                2954.038 km
1933    ALFA ROMEO 8C                3144.038 km
1934    ALFA ROMEO 8C                2886.938 km
1935    LAGONDA RAPIDE               3006.797 km
1936            Race Cancelled

CIRCUIT  = 13.942 km

1937    BUGATTI 57 G                 3287.938 km
1938    DELAHAYE 135 S               3180.940 km
1939    BUGATTI 57 C                 3354.760 km
1940-48         Race Cancelled
1949    FERRARI 166 MM               3178.279 km
1950    TALBOT LAGO T 26 GS          3465.120 km
1951    JAGUAR XK 120 C              3611.193 km
1952    MERCEDES-BENZ 300 SL         3733.800 km
1953    JAGUAR XK 120 C              4088.064 km
1954    FERRARI 375 PLUS             4061.150 km
1955    JAGUAR D                     4135.380 km    This was the tragic year that had
                                                    Mercedes leave racing for a long time
CIRCUIT  = 13.461 km

1956    JAGUAR D                     4034.929 km
1957    JAGUAR D                     4397.108 km
1958    FERRARI 250 TR               4101.926 km
1959    ASTON MARTIN DBR 1           4347.900 km
1960    FERRARI TR 59/60             4217.527 km    And thus spake Ferrari: neigh!
1961    FERRARI TR 61                4476.580 km
1962    FERRARI 330 LM TRI           4451.255 km
1963    FERRARI 250 P                4561.710 km
1964    FERRARI 275 P                4695.310 km
1965    FERRARI 275 LM               4677.110 km
1966    FORD MK II                   4843.090 km    Ford?! Beat Ferrari?! No way!
1967    FORD MK IV                   5232.900 km

CIRCUIT  = 13.469 km

1968    FORD GT40                    4452.880 km    However, this car is amazing.
1969    FORD GT40                    4998.000 km
1970    PORSCHE 917 L                4607.810 km
1971    PORSCHE 917 K                5335.313 km    All-time distance record right here

CIRCUIT  = 13.640 km

1972    MATRA SIMCA MS 670           4691.343 km
1973    MATRA SIMCA MS 670 B         4853.945 km
1974    MATRA SIMCA MS 670 B         4606.571 km
1975    GULF MIRAGE GR 8             4595.577 km
1976    PORSCHE 936                  4769.923 km    Porche sticks around for...
1977    PORSCHE 936                  4671.630 km
1978    RENAULT ALPINE A 442 B       5044.530 km

CIRCUIT  = 13.626 km

1979    PORSCHE 935 K3               4173.930 km    ...ever...
1980    RONDEAU M 379 B              4608.020 km
1981    PORSCHE 936/81               4825.348 km
1982    PORSCHE 956                  4899.086 km
1983    PORSCHE 956                  5047.934 km
1984    PORSCHE 956                  4900.276 km    ...and ever...
1985    PORSCHE 956                  5088.507 km

CIRCUIT  = 13.528 km

1986    PORSCHE 962 C                4972.731 km

CIRCUIT  = 13.535 km

1987    PORSCHE 962 C                4791.777 km
1988    JAGUAR XJR 9 LM              5319.960 km    Jag comes back...
1989    SAUBER C9-MERCEDES           5265.115 km

CIRCUIT  = 13.600 km

1990    JAGUAR XJR 12                4882.400 km    ...with some of the sexiest cars ever!
1991    MAZDA 787B                   4922.810 km    Whats this? Japanese?
1992    PEUGEOT 905                  4787.200 km     I still think WRC
1993    PEUGEOT 905                  5100.000 km     first when I say Peugeot.
1994    DAUER PORSCHE 962 LM         4685.701 km    A contraversal win here.
1995    McLAREN F1 GTR               4055.800 km    Sweet nectar.
1996    TWR-PORSCHE WSC 95           4814.400 km

CIRCUIT = 13.605 km

1997    TWR-PORSCHE WSC 95           4909.600 km
1998    PORSCHE 911 GT1-98           4783.781 km
1999    BMW V12 LMR                  4967.991 km
2000    AUDI R8                      5007.988 km
2001    AUDI R8                      4367.205 km

CIRCUIT = 13.880 km

2002    AUDI R8                      5118.750 km    And Audi continues to reign.

Sources:
www.lemans.org
http://www.maisonblanche.co.uk
http://www.hickoksports.com/history/24lemans.shtml

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