Importance of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Underscored by Major Factory Participation- Mercedes-Benz CLR Will Battle Incredibly Competitive Field
MONTVALE, N.J. (May 28, 1999) -- In the world of sports car racing, the 24 Hours of Le Mans features all the competition of the Final Four, all the fast action of the Super Bowl, and all the drama, strategy and finesse of the World Series. The world's most prestigious sports car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held June 12-13, 1999, on the famous and historic 8.45-mile temporary circuit outside Le Mans in the Sarthe region of France southwest of Paris. Winner of the 1952 and 1989 races, Mercedes-Benz will campaign its all-new CLR sports-prototype alongside factory-backed efforts from Audi, BMW and Toyota, as well as independent teams driving such legendary marques as Ferrari, Porsche and Nissan. The field is every bit as strong as that of the 64 teams that take part in the NCAA's college basketball national championship playoff during "March Madness" each year. "Le Mans really is the ultimate test of reliability, horsepower and handling for these cars," said Joe Eberhardt, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA. "In terms of prestige for automobile manufacturers, you cannot top a win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. To have so many factory-supported teams in this race has raised the level of competition to incredible heights, but the rewards for success are much higher as well." The following are some additional interesting facts about the race the French call the 24 Heures du Mans: · The winning car will likely cover more than 3,000 miles from the start of the race to the waving of the checkered flag. · The winner's average speed will probably be close to 125 mph, while top speed for many cars in the field is more than 200 mph. · The first 24-hour race at Le Mans was staged in 1923, and was won by André Lagache and René Leonard driving a Chenard & Walker "Sport." The pair covered approximately 1,372 miles at an average speed of approximately 57 mph. Mercedes-Benz has a 105-year heritage in international motor sports, dating back to the world's first auto race. This season, Mercedes-Benz provides racing engines to five teams in the CART FedEx Championship Series, and defends its Formula One Constructor's Championship with the West McLaren Mercedes team and Formula One World Champion Mika Hakkinen.