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The 24 Hours of Le Mans (French: 24 Heures du Mans) is the world's oldest active sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, France. It is one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world and is often called the "Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency".

History

The first 24 Hours of Le Mans happened on the 26-27 May which went through the public roads. It was originally planned to be a three-year event which would be awarded the Rudge-Whitworth Triennial Cup, with a winner being declared over the three consecutive events which had the fastest distance over three races. André Lagache and René Léonard would take the overall win from the three events with them finishing 279 laps over the three events.

After seven years without an edition and the drivers wanting another 24 Hours event to add to the Spa 24 Hours that was the only endurance event. The circuit was shortened to 13.5 kilometres as a permanent race track to stay away from the suburb of Le Mans. In the first event back from a hiatus, it was Raymond Sommer and Luigi Chinetti who would take it a record distance, before they became the first pair to do it back to back after winning the 1933 edition. Despite the 1936 event running without any of the main factory-backed squads, French and Italian drivers and teams dominated the event until 1939 where the Second World War brought an end to all sport in Europe.

The event came back in 1949 after the facilities had to rebuilt from the bombings saw a private team take out the first edition back with Henri Louveau and Juan Jover taking the race from the Ferrari who wouldn't win until five years later. Another two private teams took out the next two editions before Mercedes-Benz took home the first Le Mans title in 1952 with Theo Helfrich and Helmut Niedermayr. 1953 would see the first time that the 24 Hours would be under a series with the World Sportscar Championship holding an event at Le Mans. This made manufacturers like Ferrari and Porsche to send cars to try and gain points for the overall title. Despite Jaguar not entering the Le Mans, it was Briggs Cunningham team would take out the edition as they became the first all non-European team to take it out.

Winners

Year Drivers Team Car Tyre Laps Distance
1923 Flag of France André Lagache
Flag of France René Léonard
Flag of France Chenard & Walcker SA Chenard & Walcker Sport 3-Litre M 128 2209.536 km
1924 Canadian Red Ensign 1921-1957 Capt. John F. Duff
Flag of the United Kingdom Frank Clement
Flag of the United Kingdom Duff & Aldington Bentley 3 Litre Sport D 120 2077.341 km
1925 Flag of France Gérard de Courcelles
Flag of France André Rossignol
Lorraine-Dietrich B3-6 D 129 2233.982 km
1932 Flag of France Raymond Sommer
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned Luigi Chinetti
Flag of France Raymond Sommer Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 E 217 2940.538 km
1933 Flag of France Raymond Sommer
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned Luigi Chinetti
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned Soc. Anon. Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 8C 2300MM E 233 3144.038 km
1934 Flag of France Philippe Étancelin
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned Tazio Nuvolari
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned Soc. Anon. Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 E 213 2886.938 km
1935 Flag of France Pierre Louis-Dreyfus
Flag of France Henri Stoffel
Flag of France Pierre Louis-Dreyfus Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 E 223 3020.351 km
1936 Flag of France Jean Sébilleau
Flag of France Jean Desvignes
Flag of France Jean Desvignes Bugatti Type 44 E 205 2777.137 km
1937 Flag of France Jean-Pierre Wimille
Flag of France Robert Benoist
Flag of France Roger Labric Bugatti Type 57G Tank D 243 3287.938 km
1938 Flag of France Jean Prenant
Flag of France André Morel
Flag of France Jean Prenant Talbot T150SS Coupe D 235 3180.94 km
1939 Flag of France Jean-Pierre Wimille
Flag of France Pierre Veyron
Flag of France Jean-Pierre Wimille Bugatti Type 57C Tank D 248 3354.76 km
1949 Flag of France Henri Louveau
Flag of Spain (1945 - 1977) Juan Jover
Flag of France Henri Louveau Delage D6S-3L E 235 3178.299 km
1950 Flag of France Louis Rosier
Flag of France Jean-Louis Rosier
Flag of France Louis Rosier Talbot Lago Grand Sport T26 D 256 3465.12 km
1951 Flag of the United Kingdom Peter Walker
Flag of the United Kingdom Peter Whitehead
Flag of the United Kingdom Peter Walker Jaguar XK-120C D 267 3611.193 km
1952 Flag of Germany Theo Helfrich
Flag of Germany Helmut Niedermayr
Flag of Germany Daimler-Benz A.G. Mercedes-Benz W194 C 277 3733.839 km
1953 Flag of the United States Phil Walters
Flag of the United States John Fitch
Flag of the United States Briggs Cunningham Cunningham C5-R D 299 3993.931 km
1954 Flag of Argentina José Froilán González
Flag of France Maurice Trintignant
Flag of Italy Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 375 Plus P 302 4061.15 km

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