Michelin Man “Towering” above Le Mans

February 4, 2013

Michelin Man “Towering” above Le Mans

February 4, 2013


Fans at this year’s 90th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will have a much easier time keeping up with the latest on track action thanks to the construction of a new standings tower on the pit straight.

The new tower is thanks to Michelin’s commitment to endurance racing in its agreement with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO).

Michelin will be the exclusive partner of the new standings tower erected beside the pit-lane exit, along the main straight of the Le Mans 24 Hours circuit. This 82 foot tall tower will display the provisional order throughout the race and will be known as the “Michelin Ranking Tower”.

lemans_tower_2The “Michelin Ranking Tower” marks an important step forward and will be operational at this June’s 90th anniversary edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

It will provide a solution to a problem often associated with 24-hour racing by allowing spectators to follow changes in the leaderboard more easily.

In the course of the Le Mans 24 Hours’ long history, a number of systems have been employed. The inaugural race in May 1923, for example, saw the ACO use a huge board which was lit up at night by acetylene gas lights.

In 1925, sponsors took advantage of this opportunity to display their brand names alongside the race positions. In the 1930s, and up to the outbreak of World War 2, the ACO made use of this highly visible tool – which was especially effective when lit up at night – to keep the public up to speed with its latest news.

The leaderboard returned at the end of the 1940s, but was now located behind the pits. Then, in the 1950s, it was lifted to a higher position when it was fixed to a tubular frame structure built in the garden of the former ‘Welcome’ building.

From the mid-sixties and through to the early 1990s, several innovative solutions were tried, including a three-sided board which displayed the race order day and night thanks to thousands of light bulbs. Some will also remember the airship-mounted leaderboard which floated in the sky above the circuit!

When new pits were built in 1991, a number of trackside giant screens appeared, and these were used to provide regular classification updates.

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