One of the first things I did as a Le Mans 'anorak' when I put up my website back in February 2001 was to scan in my Le Mans tickets. Unfortunately I hadn't saved any between 1986 and 1990, but I managed to obtain copies of some of the missing ones.
2019 update. I've now managed to acquire tickets for the years that I didn't retain them, including some that I didn't have in the first place. For the record, I've kept all my tickets since 1993. I thought it was time to put scans of them up again and, in case there is any interest in this, a little 'running commentary'.....
Post Le Mans 2019 update. I've now added my tickets for this year's race.
September 2019 update. I recently acquired the 1985 programme which brought with it pristine entry, grandstand and contremarque tickets. I also recently received from my good friend Tony a number of parking tickets including the 2017 tickets that I hadn't retained. These have all now been added as well as a contremarque from each of 1972, 1989 and 2001.
December 2019 update. I've obtained three tickets from 1983, the enceintes generales, a Raccordement stand ticket and a general contremarque ticket. All in remarkable condition. And bearing in mind the current interest in the 'Le Mans '66' movie (or 'Ford v Ferrari' depending on where you're located), I've also pulled off quite a coup in getting hold of three contremarque tickets from the 1966 race - a general entry, tribunes and a Balcon des Ravitaillements. For 53 year old tickets, they look absolutely brand new. Incredible to think that they were once owned by someone who was lucky enough to be at that incredible event.
February 2020 update. I've now added another batch of recently acquired tickets. There are three 1993 tickets, a large ticket for Parking Vert, plus two contremarques (as well as a spare entry ticket). Then there are some older tickets from 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1969 and 1972. The majority of these are contremarques. Bearing in mind that the ACO used thin paper for entrance and grandstand tickets up to 1996 but issued card contremarques (as these tickets were constantly being given out and handed in again), it isn't surprising that the contremarques are easier to find and tend to be in better condition.
February 2020 - Another update. Having missed a good collection of 1957 tickets on eBay I've now managed to obtain 4 tickets from that year (which was the year of my birth, so these tickets are as old as me!). Two contremarques, a slightly worse for wear grandstand ticket and a ticket that I've never seen before which appears to have been for an event held on the Friday of the year's race involving (possibly) vintage cars (?) as it refers to a 50th anniversary and the 'Championship of the Ancestors', whatever that was.
May 2020 - Next update. I bought the 1979 programme as it had two tickets in it, a Tertre Rouge, Mulsanne, Arnage 'Virages' ticket (which I don't think I have seen before) and a contremarque. What I hadn't appreciated until they arrived was that the previous owner had taped the tickets into the programme for safe keeping - doh! It took me a while to extract them, trying to do minimal damage to both tickets and programme however the tape can't be removed from the tickets. Nuisance. I've also picked up some tickets from 1983 and 1984. The 1983 ticket was for practice only. The blue ticket from 1984 is unusual too, as it appears to be a pit access ticket, which I've not seen before.
May 2020 - Further update. While revising my 1992 story, I found tickets in the album of photographs. After checking all of my other photo albums, I found a few more which I had long thought lost. These are my original 1992 entrance ticket and Maison Blanche grandstand ticket, my 1993 ACO grandstand ticket, a Parking Rouge ticket from 1996, a contremarque and members enclosure tickets from 1997 and a Welcome ticket and Espace Club ticket from 1998. These have all been inserted into their respective years.
I'm not quite sure why I find these fascinating, probably because most Le Mans 'memorabilia' captures my interest. But the development of the tickets, even over the 34 years I've been going (it is now February 2020) has seen a lot of change by the ACO, albeit not always for the better. The tickets are now much more robust than they used to be, card having replaced flimsy paper in 1997 and we have bar codes for the automatic recognition of the tickets at the entrances/exits. This has also (largely) spelled the demise of the 'contremarque', the ticket received on leaving the track (or a grandstand), the production of which on re-entry was supposed to make it impossible to hand your ticket on to someone else. The tickets have also got bigger, so the ticket holders that some of us use have also had to increase in size (actually making them more awkward in that they're prone to blow about in the wind), but sadly the designs have become very corporate indeed, lacking the imagination and artistry of my early days at the race.
By the way, the images are all 'thumbnails' which will take you to larger images of the tickets.
My first 4 years at Le Mans. Great tickets which included the image from the posters for those years. The red and white ticket from 1986 gave access to the reserved parking in Garage Rouge (or Parking Rouge). The 1987 tickets show the first example of a contremarque. The 'Welcome' ticket enabled access to the relatively tall building just beyond pit out which gave a great view down the pits and the straight. But it wasn't cheap - 100F in 1987 (nearly 32 years ago) was a decent sum of money, around £10, based upon the old 10F to the £ rule of thumb. You can also see how the prices of the various tickets have altered year by year, although you do have to compare the same price 'series', as the ACO has always sold discounted tickets to members and others.
The tickets from 1990 to 1995 continued the pictorial theme however the decline began in 1996 with a rather dull sponsored ticket, however even that was at least colourful compared to the bland offerings that followed for the rest of the 90's (and beyond). 1990 was the first time I had a grandstand seat (although the Tourists actually only had three seats shared between the four of us) which we bought on the quayside at Portsmouth. I also had a grandstand seat in 1992, where 'Pierre' and I sat in what was at that time called the 'Sarthe' grandstand (or was it 'Maison Blanche'?) which now has the rather less inspiring name of Raccordement. Surprisingly I didn't retain any contremarques through this period. The 1992 ticket (which is not one of my originals) appears to have been a 'freebie'..... The 1993 ticket is one of my favourites in that it retains some of the tear-off parts for days of the event. As these tickets were effectively issued for the week, the ACO needed some means of identifying which day(s) you had attended - it's now a familiar enough concept. 1994 saw the arrival of bar codes on the tickets, although from memory, the 'zapping' of tickets at the gate, initially with hand-held zappers didn't begin until a number of years later, so I guess the bar codes had some other purpose at this time. The 1995 ticket (and the programme and poster) were a real disappointment, featuring as they did not a photograph of a Honda NSX, but an artistic impression.... The rot really set in between 1997 and 1999 with probably the most boring and unimaginative tickets the ACO have ever issued. 1997 was my first year as an ACO member and the eagle-eyed will see that as a result I paid 80F less for my ticket than I had the year before. It was also the first ticket on card rather than paper. In fact, the cost of the members enceintes générales (general entry) ticket didn't increase again until 2001, which was pretty impressive. Note that the 1999 ticket shows the cost in both Francs and Euros.
What can I say about the noughties tickets? The era of the bland? Well, slightly less bland than the end of the 90's, I guess. There was clearly a dominating Audi influence throughout most of the decade, particularly towards the end of it, however you only had to be at the circuit during these times to see the extent to which Audi had 'influence' with the ACO over advertising and corporate matters with larger and larger banner adverts and the 'adoption' of areas of the track for guests of Audi to get what I suspect was a relatively brief look into the event which they had dominated.
As to the tickets, note the disappearance of the Franc from the tickets in 2002 and my continued dalliance with the wonderful Welcome building. More importantly, in 2002 I had my first grandstand seat since 1993 courtesy of my new French friend Fab. In fact, that ticket raises a bit of a quandary in my mind as the ticket shows Tribune T07. Now there is no Tribune T07 nor (as far as my research goes) has there ever been a Tribune T07 opposite the pits. My photographs suggest that we had a good view across to pit in which to my mind equates to Leonard (T20) or Tavano (T21), but I can't be sure. The plot thickens further in that my grandstand seat for 2003 says T12 which is actually now Benoist, but I've never sat in that stand and I know for sure that I sat with Fab in the pits grandstand (T34) in 2003. In 2004 I sat in T34 again and that is what the ticket for that year shows. So did the grandstand numbers change between 2003 and 2004? Can someone enlighten me?
2005 saw me manage to salvage a Parking Rouge ticket for the first time from one of the Tourist's cars. They tended to stick these to the windscreen (as you were supposed to) but they were difficult to remove again in one piece. I don't think this one was ever affixed! 2006 and 2007 were my two extravagant years when I had not one but two grandstand seats, Tertre Rouge (down near the corner) in 2006 and Dunlop in 2007. They were indeed a true extravagance as I doubt that I spent more than an hour in each of them in those years. My 2006 Tertre Rouge ticket has all of its stubs which enhances the illustration significantly. The tickets were gradually getting bigger and we ended the decade with quite a departure in 2009 with something of a Pescarolo celebration, a case of nice ticket but surely it should have been a Peugeot celebration? 2009 was also a major moment in my Le Mans 'career' as it was my final Le Mans with the Tourists.
And so to the last eight years. The 'theme' of 2009 continued into 2010 with that vague hope that Henri might just pull off something the French could rightly be very proud of, but it wasn't to be. I like the tickets though. 2011 was colourful and patriotic while 2012 actually showed a return to a bit of artistic imagination. 2013, whilst not doing the same, is still memorable because of the departure from anything quite like it previously - for the 90 years celebration of course (or 91, as you prefer....). Although 2014 showed some promise, 2015-2018 were sadly very bland with virtually no difference between them - disappointing.
We did of course have the fun of 2014 and the tickets that turned black in the sun. The parking ticket I retained gives the general idea but I saw many much worse than that. 2014 and 2017 also saw rare reappearances of the contremarque for Mulsanne and Arnage, unsurprisingly missing the technology of the entrances back at the main part of the circuit.
And what of 2019? I could put up scans of my tickets, as I have them already (although that would probably not be sensible...) but I can say that they're a departure from the last three years (thankfully), something akin to a return to 2014, and with a degree of patriotism....? (now added - 19.06.19).
And just to round things off, I went to the first Le Mans Classic in 2002, having been invited by Tourist Chris, whose brother was competing. I went along with several competitors, Willie Green, Whizzo Williams and a chap named Peter Neumark, a wealthy chap who was running a D-Type as I recall. I took photos for him and his pal but never received any kind of reply when I sent them to him. Ah well.... It was a seriously expensive weekend and I completely ran out of money! And the tickets were dreadful. I've never been again, not because I have no desire to but in 2004 the biennial event was moved to July and there was no way I could do Le Mans in June and then go back again for the Classic just a few weeks later. The 'Concurrent' (competitor) badge was given to me by someone on the trip, I don't remember who. I reckon it just about counts as a ticket....
The 1978 tickets were obtained by coincidence. From time to time, I buy Le Mans programmes when I can pick them up cheaply on eBay and I bought the 1978 programme last year. In it were the two tickets - a bonus. Its interesting how the ticket design has some stylistic links to some of the tickets from the 'noughties'.
LE MANS CLASSIC 2002