The Le Mans Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) has announced the Classic Le Mans 2016 dates. The eighth edition of Le Mans Classique will be held on 8, 9 and 10 July 2016.
In July 2014, more than 110,000 spectators made their way to la Sarthe, admiring almost 500 race cars on the track and 8,000 vintage cars in a general enclosure accommodating 180 clubs representing 80 marques.
Having attended four CLMs in a row from 2006, I skipped the last one but will be back for 2016. The organisers promise more special features for the next Le Mans Classic, so I hope they don’t muck up the essential charm of the format, which is open access to the paddocks and lots of night-time qualifying.
Anyone coming in from overseas is guaranteed to enjoy the Classic Le Mans. Many competitors running lower down the order keep the speed in check, but the guys at the front run a bona fide race. The eras are split into tranches, which allows fans to plan their viewing and be in certain places for particular groups of cars.
I like watching all of them race, but following 917s, GT40s and 935s from various sections of the circuit over the course of the weekend is cool. I recommend a grandstand seat for night practice and qualifying, and then get out in the country to experience proper speed on the Mulsanne.
It’s easy to drive out to Arnage or Maison Blanc, soak up the energy of the cars as they hammer around the circuit and contemplate the level of endurance these cars were built with back in the day, and how hard the drivers had to push to win at Le Mans.
Not much has changed – Le Mans is still Le Mans – but teams are now huge: massive operations with a lot of data collected that can help show how the car is performing. Back in the golden age, it was quite a different story: you just had to drive the crap out of it and hope things stayed together.
More info on the Classic Le Mans website. Hope to see some of you there!