The idea of the Le Mans Classic is one that Patrick Peter has been nurturing for ten years. The concept is one of audacious proportions: to host all the cars that took part in Le Mans races since the 1940s -- and even before World War II -- on the same iconic French racing circuit. The sixth edition takes place this weekend, with more than 300 vehicles getting their turn on the track in front of over 100,000 visitors. The organizer provides a preview of the event.
Relaxnews: How did you come up with this idea?
Patrick Peter: In the 1980s I was the organizer of a major vintage car event not far from Paris, an event that no longer takes place. The 24 Hours of Le Mans connection came to my mind because it is a major international reference in the world of motor sports. The circuit has the prestige needed to attract the greatest cars from all over the world. Le Mans Classic is a living museum on wheels!
R: What's the key moment?
PP: The race, of course. Cars from all eras successively take to the track over a period of 24 hours Saturday. But there's a constant program of spectacular events, such as a parade of Ferrari GTOs, the Italian brand's most iconic model. Out of the 39 models built in the 1960s, 23 will be on the track together, a first! These cars are celebrating their 50th birthday with us. Le Mans Classic was designed so that there is always something happening, just like with the "real" one.
R: How many visitors do you expect?
PP: More than 100,000. I'm hoping for 120,000 people, if the weather is on our side. There were 30,000 visitors in 2002. Together with Goodwood in the UK, this is the biggest event of its kind in the world. That's the magic of Le Mans!
R: Where is the best spot to take in the race?
PP: Le Mans Heritage, at the heart of the track, where you can both see and hear the cars.
R: What is the best bend?
PP: I know the track very well and I have no preference. Perhaps the Indianapolis - Arnage, where you can see cars slowing, downshifting before accelerating: the music created by the engines at that spot is incredible.
R: Your favorite car?
PP: The Alfa Romeo 8C, without a doubt! I was a fan of the Ford GT40, but the Italian car has taken over. Tastes change with the races!
R. Your best memory from Le Mans Classic?
PP: The cars in the starting lineup in grid 1 (pre-WWII cars) in 2002. The grandstands were full. Some of the cars wouldn't start. The mechanics pushed them to help. People from the audience stood up, applauding and cheering. It was a very moving and convivial moment, in the spirit of Le Mans Classic.