As a long-time fan of endurance racing, I’ve always been fascinated by the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours race. One of the aspects that has captivated me the most is the famous Le Mans start, where drivers used to sprint to their cars, jump in, and roar off onto the track. However, in recent years, there have been changes to this historic tradition.
The Traditional Le Mans Start
For decades, the Le Mans 24 Hours race featured the unique and adrenaline-pumping running start. Drivers would line up on one side of the track, opposite their parked cars. At the sound of the starting signal, they would sprint across the track, jump into their cars, and speed away to begin the race. This added an extra layer of excitement and danger to an already grueling event.
However, the traditional running start at Le Mans was discontinued in 1970 due to safety concerns. The start was changed to a rolling start with the cars already in motion, as it was deemed safer and less chaotic than the previous method. This change was made in an effort to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries during the start of the race.
The Current Start Method
Today, the Le Mans 24 Hours race begins with a rolling start behind the safety car. This allows the field to spread out and establish a safe racing rhythm before the green flag is waved, signaling the start of the race. While the running start may no longer be a part of the event, the anticipation and excitement of the race start remain as intense as ever.
Controversy and Nostalgia
The decision to eliminate the running start from the Le Mans 24 Hours race was met with mixed reactions from fans and drivers. Some argued that it was a necessary step to ensure safety, while others mourned the loss of a unique and iconic tradition. Regardless of the change, the spirit of endurance and the challenge of the race continue to define the event.
While the running start at Le Mans is now a thing of the past, its legacy lives on in the memories of fans and participants. The evolution of safety regulations in motorsport has led to changes in many longstanding traditions, but the enduring allure of the Le Mans 24 Hours race remains unchanged. Whether it’s a running start or a rolling start, the spirit of competition and endurance will always make this legendary race a spectacle to behold.