The 24 Hours of Le Mans is 100 years old, but the first images of the race are only 90. Filmed in 1933 and shown in nascent talkies, they show Raymond Sommer and Tazio Nuvolari’s victory over Alfa Romeo. Television arrived much later, on June 26, 1950, to be exact.

Le Journal Télévisé was barely a few months old when, on the initiative of Pierre Sabbagh, its creator-editor-in-chief, images shot two days before were edited in a makeshift laboratory and broadcast shortly after 8 p.m. The commentary, made live, not having been recorded, it is a silent report which has been kept in the archives. We discover shots of the crowd in the stands, of the cars lined up around which mechanics and drivers are busy, the start, the hot night where spectators sleep on air mattresses or in the grass, and finally, the victory alone of Talbot number 5. Louis Rozier indeed drove for 23 hours 10, his teammate, who is none other than Jean-Louis his son, having withdrawn after only two laps.

Much more spectacular images were taken on June 12, 1971. Madelen invites you to discover or rediscover them. They were shot by a subjective camera aboard a car driven by Fernand Tavano, a specialist in rallies and hill climbs. Comments are provided by Henri Pescarolo, record holder for participation in an event he has won four times.

INA: The 24 Hours of Le Mans seen from the car of champion Henri Pescarolo

When you read this report, you have the feeling of being in your place, negotiating as quickly as possible the Mulsanne curve, the Indianapolis bend, those of Arnage and Maison Blanche, the Ford chicane, without forget the legendary Mulsanne Straight. It was completely redesigned at the end of 1955, after an accident which, on June 12, left 80 dead and 100 injured. Just after entering the zone reserved for refueling, the Mercedes driven by Pierre Levegh exploded. Shards of molten magnesium from the engine are projected towards the stands, above the public. The pilot will not survive a tragedy whose origin has never really been analyzed.

The 24 hours of Le Mans were also marked by the presence of stars, motor racing enthusiasts, one of whose dreams was to participate in an event that has become legendary throughout the world. By registering for the 48th edition in 1980, Jean-Louis Trintignant ensured the family succession. Maurice Trintignant, his uncle, known as “Pétoulet”, took part 15 times. He won the event in 1954. It didn’t go so well for his nephew. The yellow Porsche 935 he was driving went off the road on the Hunaudières straight. “For a few seconds, I thought I was going to die,” admitted the actor. The Americans were also present, starting with Patrick Dempsey, Doctor Derek Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy. In 2002, he created his team, “Dempsey Racing” and entered four times, between 2009 and 2015. Finally, in 1979, the day after his 54th birthday, Paul Newman also tried the adventure, driving a Porsche 935. To everyone’s surprise, starting with his own, he finished in second place overall and won first in class. Throughout the event, he showed absolute rigor. He didn’t make any movies. A victory that is therefore not a scam.