24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary – Major chapters immortalised in the comics – 24 Heures du Mans

24h Le Mans
24 HOURS CENTENARY – THE LE MANS EXCEPTION ⎮ For nearly 10 years, outstanding moments in the history of the race have been reflected in a collection published by Glénat Editions, a leading force in French comics. They provide a wonderful way to (re)discover epic events on the eve of the Centenary, like the Ford-Ferrari duel or the 1999 running of the race.
The first Glénat Editions comic books featuring the 24 Hours of Le Mans were published in a collection called Plein Gaz dedicated to the history of motorsport in general.
Now, with a new publication every year for nearly a decade, the history of the 24 Hours is reflected in nine comic books covering many of the major moments in the nearly century-old race: huge winning streaks (Bentley Boys 1923-1930, Jaguar 1951-1957, Ferrari, Matra), legendary cars (Porsche 917) and unforgettable duels, like the one between Ford and Ferrari, the focus of the book released in 2014.
Frédéric Mangé (Glénat Editions head of the Plein Gaz collection when the book was released): "When we talk about this story with comic book professionals, they find it hard to believe we didn't embellish anything in the book, with all the twists and turns in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and endurance racing. That duel was an incredible dream scenario. The focus of this series dedicated to the race is that of historical veracity, which is why we called upon the support and expertise of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest."
Another major running of the race served as the subject of a special book in 2016 by nature of its intensity and the impressive line-up of manufacturers at the start. Laurent-Frédéric Bollée (writer of the book aptly entitled Le choc des titans): "I am convinced the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans was one of the best runnings of the 20th century and of all the ones I covered as a journalist. It definitely left the biggest impression on me. I was tasked with presenting the race highlights in a 52-minute programme on the Eurosport channel and spent the week collecting interviews to bolster the show. As early as Scrutineering for the 1999 running, I felt it was going to be an epic race."
The 67th 24 Hours marked both its era and undeniable evolution. Bollée: "In a way, 1999 truly foreshadowed the real sprints we've seen at Le Mans since 2011. Ultimately, the battles between Audi, Porsche and Toyota in the 2010s are a direct legacy of what happened between Toyota, BMW and Mercedes in 1999. The clash of the titans that played out that year between Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Audi was also a great example of excellent sportsmanship. Everyone knew that 1999 was to be a 24-hour Grand Prix."
The level of expectation reached fever pitch at the 1999 24 Hours. Bollée: "Normally, I returned to Paris the day before the race and returned Saturday morning for the warm-up. But on Saturday 13 June 1999, for the first time in 20 years, I found myself stuck in traffic getting into the circuit! There were more people than expected, another indication it was to be an exceptional running."
The 1999 24 Hours was Audi's rookie participation, now the second winningest marque at Le Mans. Bollée: "'Audi's first appearance in the 24 Hours made 1999 even more magical. Honestlywe did not realise the magnitude of what would ensue. What Audi accomplished in 18 seasons (from 1999 to 2016, with 13 wins between 2000 and 2014, Ed.) is the stuff of legends. Their driver line-ups always got along and were very supportive. Audi fosters a fully assumed family spirit that I have never found elsewhere."
Posterity has most certainly entered the 1999 race in the 24 Hours hall of fame. And nearly a quarter of a century later, the influx of manufacturers drawn to the race after the introduction of the Hypercar class in 2021 constitutes a major new chapter. Magnified by the massive celebration of the centenary in 2023, the race boasts everything needed to match or outshine 1999: Porsche, Ferrari, Toyota, Peugeot, Cadillac, awaiting Lamborghini, BMW and Alpine Honda HPD. A new golden age is about to kick off on the track, sure to be found in future comic books in the Glénat Editions 24 Hours of Le Mans collection!
The comic books in this Glénat Editions collection are available at the official 24 Hours of Le Mans online store.
PHOTOS (Copyright – ACO Archives): LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS. From top to bottom: the Ford-Ferrari duel of 1967 and the BMW-Toyota duel of 1999 are spotlighted in the Glénat Editions 24 Hours of Le Mans collection.
24 HOURS CENTENARY – MAKES, MARQUES AND IMPRINTS ⎮ No French manufacturer had triumphed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since Talbot-Lago in 1950 until Matra put an end to the losing sequence. The aeronautics firm took to the racetrack in the late sixties, much to the delight of French fans who discovered a new generatio…
24 HOURS CENTENARY – PEOPLE AND MACHINES ⎮ In addition to his track record and longevity, Henri Pescarolo’s career at the race is also a compelling human interest story. Here is an overview in four parts about determination, victories, encounters, stamina and friendship.
24 HOURS OF LE MANS CENTENARY – PERPETUAL INNOVATION The rear engine became the norm in Formula 1 after Jack Brabham’s Cooper won two world titles in 1959 and 1960, but the transition took a little longer at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Gradually, however, the rear engine became the norm for prototypes and most GT cars …


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