A visit to the 24 Hours of Le Mans museum

Endurance Info's Laurent Mercier and Motorsport.com's Eric Gilbert took time between the Le Mans Test Day and the busy race week to visit the famous museum located at the entrance of the famed circuit.

Opened in 1961, the 24 Hours of Le Mans Circuit de la Sarthe museum is the second oldest automobile museum in France. Built over 4,000 square meters at the entrance to the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit, the museum was originally located inside the circuit until 1991.

Porsche 917 LH Long Tail 1971
Porsche 917 LH Long Tail 1971

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

With over 100 gleaming examples of automotive history, the museum will experience an uptick in visitors next week with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro is front and center with two GT1 cars just across the way: an Aston Martin DBR9 and a Ferrari 550 Maranello. As a side note, the Aston Martin, refurbished in its all green Prodrive livery, was used by Hexis Racing in the GT1 World Championship series.

More than 60,000 visitors make the trip to the Musée de la Sarthe, making it the most visited museum in the department and second in the region. In the back, a workshop is used to restore old vehicles. Currently, volunteers are working on an original Bentley 3.0 which won the 24 Hours in 1924, as well as an Amédée Bollée. The two jewels will take part in the Drivers Parade of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans next week. The museum takes donations to help with refurbishing cars to their original glory.

Aston Martin DBR9 GT 2005 and Ferrari 550 Maranello 2004
Aston Martin DBR9 GT 2005 and Ferrari 550 Maranello 2004

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

The museum’s director, Francis Piquera is not stingy with anecdotes to tell. For example, a certain team’s members taking part in the 24 Hours one year, came knocking on the museum’s doors on the Saturday afternoon of the race in order to take suspension pieces and apply them to the car that was currently taking part in the race!

A magnificent Matra exposition is currently showcased. In addition, the entire month of June will feature pieces by handicapped persons.

See more photos from the museum.

Translated by Rainier Ehrhardt

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Event 24 Hours of Le Mans
Sub-event Visit at 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum
Track Le Mans
Drivers Eric Gilbert
Article type Special feature
Tags 24 hours of le mans, aston martin, audi, bentley, ferrari, le mans, museum, sarthe