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article imagePart re-creation of first 1923 track for 90th anniversary Le Mans

By Robert Myles     Apr 18, 2013 in Sports
Le Mans - As part of the 90th anniversary celebrations for the Le Mans 24 Hours race in France, a section of the original track, incorporating a hazardous hairpin bend, over which the inaugural Le Mans race took place in 1923, is to be recreated.
The 90th anniversary Le Mans 24 Hour race takes place at Circuit de la Sarthe in north west France over the weekend of June 22 and 23. Part of the 90th birthday celebrations for the 2013 Le Mans will involve recreating a section of the original Circuit de la Sarthe racetrack, at Pontlieu on the outskirts of Le Mans, deemed too dangerous and removed from the circuit in 1929. The 'restoration' of the celebrated Pontlieu Hairpin will be for commemorative and exhibition purposes only and this year's race will follow the now established Circuit de la Sarthe.
Roads at the Pontlieu Hairpin, which featured as the most northerly point of the original configuration of the famous Circuit de la Sarthe during the years from 1923 to 1928 will be taken back in time as part of the events celebrating the 24 Hours Le Mans endurance classic’s four score and ten milestone, reports Autosport.
Photo of original 1923 poster advertising very first Le Mans 24 Hours race  on display at Sarthe Mot...
Photo of original 1923 poster advertising very first Le Mans 24 Hours race, on display at Sarthe Motor Museum at Le Mans 24 Hours circuit
After World War I, the current organisers of the 24 Hours Le Mans, the Automobile Club de L'Ouest (ACO) came into being and the Pontlieu Hairpin formed part of the original 'long' configuration of the Le Mans circuit which totalled 10.73 miles (17.27 kilometres). Pontlieu was the northmost point of the Le Mans circuit situated north of the current Virage de Tertre Rouge.
The race organisers kept the original 1923 Le Mans circuit for six years but they decided that the Pontlieu hairpin was too hazardous. The Le Mans circuit received one of a number of course alterations that would take place over the ensuing 90 years when the Pontlieu Hairpin was cropped back to the current Tertre Rouge corner in 1929.
As part of a number of additional events planned to mark the 90th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Pontlieu Hairpin will be recreated to reflect the way it was when the race first took place in 1923 with period barriers and advertising hoardings. At a special event scheduled for the Tuesday ahead of the Le Mans race weekend, there will be an exhibition of cars which graced the famous Circuit de la Sarthe during the 1920s.
Amongst other events planned for this very special Le Mans race week, the annual Friday Pit Walk will now include the track itself from the starting and finishing straight below the grandstands as far as the Dunlop Curve. A selection of cars selected as Le Mans legends, all in running condition, will be on display on the track allowing for a close inspection by race fans. Just prior to the start of the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours race, the Le Mans legends will be displayed running on the track together, some with their original drivers.
The Automobile Club de l'Ouest are planning that 11 cars, selected by a special jury, reflecting the spirit of Le Mans over the past 90 years, will each process around the Circuit de la Sarthe during the morning of Saturday June 22 prior to the race start time of 3 p.m. as a very special escort of honour for the new Le Mans 24 Hours trophy.
A few weeks prior to the 2013 Le Mans, the ACO will also honour surviving multiple winners of the Le Mans 24 Hours at the Pompidou Centre, Paris on May 31. Seven previous Le Mans victors who have four or more victories under their belts are expected to be in attendance including Jackie Ickx, Tom Kristensen, Emanuele Pirro, Frank Biela, Yannick Dalmas, Henri Pescarolo and Derek Bell.
In Le Mans city centre, the Place de la République, the annual venue for race scrutineering and forming part of the route for the drivers’ parade, will this year also host a Son et Lumière (sound and light) show during the fortnight prior to the race weekend, reports Dailysportscar.com.
Finally, subject to regulatory permissions, the iconic Le Mans ‘blimp’ could make a return to Circuit de la Sarthe in the shape of a dirigible 80 metre long airship offering unrivalled views of the Le Mans racetrack over the weekend of June 22 and 23.
Current layout of the Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans  France
Current layout of the Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans, France
Will Pettenger - Wikimedia Commons
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