Historic start to return to Le Mans

David Hobbs

More than 40 years have passed since the last time drivers raced from one side of the pits to the other to start the Le Mans 24 Hours, but nostalgia is in vogue these days so back comes another tradition.

The start of Le Mans used to see drivers dashing from one side of the pitlane to the other where the cars were lined up in herringbone fashion. The ensuing melee as the cars scrambled to get away first was always guaranteed to produce a few prangs.

On his first visit to Le Mans in 1969 Jacky Ickx decided he wasn't going to have anything to with this; thinking it was dangerous, the Belgian strolled across the pitlane to his Ford GT40 and waited until all the cars were clear before he set off. Already at the back of the field, he had some ground to make up.

Ickx went on to win that year's race and prove a point; race organisers, the ACO, called a halt to the practice and the familiar rolling start was introduced.

But to give a taste of the old days, the cars will be lined up in similar fashion an hour before the start and the first driver in each car will stand opposite and after a few ceremonials walk across to their car.

Well, you need a bit of pomp before the world's greatest endurance race. Click on the video to see how Ickx did it before the first of his six Le Mans victories.