Even though my race team, Eyesore Racing, won this trip to the 24 Heures du Mans by winning last year’s national championship for the 24 Hours of LeMons we still tried to save money during the race itself since we were deep in the throes of an extended European vacation. So should you ever go to this legendary race yourself (definitely one for the
bucket list) here are some tips I picked up during my trip:
Food and Drink
Bring your own food since burgers are about 13 euros ($19 American!). All the mediocre food in the village is, as expected, at expensive event prices. (FYI: “Steak Americain” is a hamburger patty wrapped in a baguette and topped with fries.) You can just tailgate back at your parking spot. Yes, def rent a car which can serve as a place to picnic and to nap. Tailgate food suggestions: loaf of bread, cheese, salami, bananas, chocolate biscuits and lots of beer — all of which can stay in the car while you walk around. Pick these up at Carrefour, the local market, not the rest stop which charges about three times the amount.
You can actually bring your own beer, water and food since there’s no security bag check per se. Just don’t make it obvious by carting in coolers or six-packs. They will stop you at the gate and make you get rid of it. However once in, you can basically break out your beer and food anywhere.
By the way, Kronenburg and 1664 are sold for 6 euros (about $9) at the track. FYI a tiny glass of wine is 10 euros ($14)!
Gravel trap on the old track off Porsche curves is a nice place to throw down a blanket and take a nap. Yellow flags are great for naptime.
Lots of toilets, no long lines for women. Pack your own toilet paper and wet naps since paper and soap usually run out in the toilets.
Even though a quarter of a million people come to the race, traffic is surprisingly not bad. Think LA traffic yellow on Google maps. Stacked parking is organized in two by two rows separated by carwide rows so you don’t have to wait for those around you to leave. It’s all surprisingly so orderly and organized.
Get a Le Mans hat with a layout of the track for 20 euros. If you can’t find what you want at any of the Official Le Mans stores, check their online store. Unfortunately for the ladies they only have lame stuff like pink tank tops with “Le Mans” in rhinestones and a tank dress as well as polo shirts so I’m still on the hunt for an extra small in the men’s light blue Gulf jacket (79 euros at the track but not available online). Bew.
Make sure to come on Friday to tour the pits. You can get a great shot of the 24-hour clock and banners but move away from any pit where you hear a revving engine since those usually draw the crowds. Unless you want to take a video for just the sound.
No need to buy a beer to get those nifty plastic Le Mans cups since you can usually find abandoned ones on the restaurant tables around the village, more so on Friday than the race days.
Parking lot areas are a great place for car buffs to geek out with its variety of classic and sporty cars — old Alfas, TVRs, Ferraris.
Extra tips: Best spots to view the race — Virage de Mulsanne after the Mulsanne straight, Virage de Arnage, before Dunlop bridge where you can see the cars coming out of the pits and onto the track. Don’t forget to bring your earplugs and rain gear. Big groups should bring walkie-talkies to keep in touch.