Information for Le Mans 'First-Timers'
(Updated May 2020)
I'm sometimes asked for information by people who are making the trip to Le Mans for the first time. So I've put together some brief information for those who are about to make their debut as spectators at the world's greatest motor race. This page has undergone quite a lot of updates over the years since I first wrote it in 2001, as things that were important then, probably aren't any more, while other things have become more important (to me, anyway!).
There is an important point to remember. There is no 'right' way to do Le Mans, whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned veteran. You'll get a different slant on what you should aim to do depending on who you talk to and particularly who you go with when you go for the first time. For example, there are many people who swear that you cannot enjoy Le Mans properly unless you camp at the circuit whereas others (particularly old Le Mans soldiers like me - I turned 63 this month) will say that the convenience of a hotel room not too remote from the circuit far outweighs any advantage of camping. Some regard Le Mans as an event that cannot be survived without consuming copious amounts of alcohol. That's fine if that's what you want, but at least try and stay sober enough to see some of the racing.... Whatever I think doesn't make me right or anyone else wrong. Whatever you do though, however long you go for, you need to make sure you allow it to soak in through every pore. There is no atmosphere like it. The only absolute must is to see the cars for as long as possible during the race night. 2019 was my 34th consecutive Le Mans and I've not made any attempt to sleep during the night since 1987. The racing in full darkness is just so good that I'm not prepared to miss any of it. As I've said to many people over the years, you've got a whole year to catch up on your sleep - don't waste this one magical night.....
This isn't a definitive guide to Le Mans. There are other sources for this information, such as the ACO's official site, the Club Arnage guide (if they still publish it) and the page at Ten Tenths devoted to frequently asked questions
All of the information is based on my own experiences at Le Mans. If I express a view, it is my own and I recognise the fact that others may not agree.
Note also that information becomes out of date very quickly - almost as quickly as the ACO make changes to my beloved Le Mans circuit - so if you spot something I need to update - let me know!
Finally, if there's something you want to know, you can always ask me by email or use the excellent Le Mans subforum at Ten Tenths (where I've been a member and moderator for many years).