For almost a century, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been a fixture of not only local economic and cultural heritage, but also on a national and international scale. To measure its impact, in 2015, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest published a study conducted on its 2014 activity.
Based on revenue generated by companies dependent on motorsport in the vicinity of the circuit, and the repercussions throughout La Sarthe, the study estimated the total economic benefits of the circuit at €114.7 million for 2014, slightly up on 2009 (€111.5 million).
The ACO maintains strong ties with the armed forces. Spectators always admire the French Navy’s Rafale fighter aircraft that fly over the 24H motorcycle race, the handover of the “Tricolore” national flag to the official starter of the 24 Hours of Le Mans by a soldier abseiling from a French Army helicopter and the red, white and blue-striped flypast by the Patrouille de France display team.
In addition to providing entertainment value, the armed forces are always present at “24 Hours” events to meet potential recruits in the race village. The Gendarmerie Nationale also gets involved through “road safety” initiatives that the ACO holds dear.
Innovation is the raison d’être of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was therefore logical to develop it on a local level. The ACO is a founding member of Le Mans Tech, an initiative set up to place France among the world’s leading startup nations. It aims to provide a springboard for future job-creating startups by bringing together all the stakeholders – startups, SMEs, big business, and research and training centres – involved in projects linked to mobility. The ACO has already supported several startups providing a platform to test their experiments. One such firm is Furion who developed and introduced the first hybrid motorcycle made in Le Mans.
Mention “Le Mans” to anyone and they immediately think of the legendary 24-hour race that draws hundreds of thousands of spectators every year.
Surrounding villages that have given their name to some of the circuit’s iconic points – such as Mulsanne and Arnage – are known all over the world. Le Mans and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest are also home to a museum visited by 124,000 people annually (2019 figure). The ACO also has several stores throughout France and five permanent tracks, including three devoted to karting. In 2019, over 33,000 sessions were held at the Karting des 24 Heures du Mans.
These year-round activities are key components of local tourism. Meanwhile, the 24 Hours of Le Mans gives the city a global outreach for several days every year.
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