The Circuit de la Sarthe covers 13.6 kilometers of Official Yes I Am Old But I Saw Tom Petty On Stage Signature Shirt the French countryside. It combines the permanent race components of the Ford Chicanes, the pit straight, under the Dunlop Bridge and through to Tertre Rouge as well as the normal everyday roads of the Mulsanne straight through to Indianapolis and Arnage. The track has gone through many iterations over the years; originally, the cars raced into the heart of the city, turning just before the river Sarthe, before hurtling down the 8.6 kilometers straight. In 1932, the circuit removed the journey into the city and more closely resembled the track we see today.
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Here’s a video of Mike Hawthorn touring the circuit with a Official Yes I Am Old But I Saw Tom Petty On Stage Signature Shirt camera and microphone attached in 1956, one year after his involvement in the Le Mans disaster. The addition of the Porsche Curves and the Ford Chicanes in 1972 added an extra dimension to the high speed, fast-flowing track. In the late 80’s, the Group C prototype cars would reach over 400km/h, achieving average speeds of almost 250km/h in qualifying for the entire lap. This is onboard of Derek Bell’s Porsche 956 in 1983, showing the ridiculous speeds on this configuration of the circuit. This configuration remained relatively unchanged right up to 1990 until FIA mandating required that for the circuit to be sanctioned, it must not have a straight longer than 2km.
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The 6km Mulsanne straight was cut Official Yes I Am Old But I Saw Tom Petty On Stage Signature Shirt down into three relatively equal length portions by two chicanes, giving the iteration of the circuit used today. Allan McNish takes you on an onboard lap of the current circuit in this video. McNish is one of the gods of the modern prototype era, winning Le Mans 3 times; once with Porsche and twice with Audi. For a more comprehensive focus on the track, John Hindhaugh’s track walk takes you on a 30-minute exploration of the track, with an in-depth focus on corners like the Dunlop Esses, Tertre Rouge, Mulsanne Corner, and the Ford Chicanes.