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".
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.