With the Centenary year of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race a little over 6 months away, die hard fans are facing challenging times getting admission tickets and their usual camping grounds as demand seems to be outstripping supply.
New update at the end of this article.
In an attempt to find space for their Centenary Celebrations and opening ceremony, The ACO (Automobile club de l'ouest) have closed several camp grounds which as not only affected fans but has taken official resellers by surprise.
We have spoke with some long standing fans to get their reaction to the current situation. Brad from Canada told us "I opted for an ACO membership specifically to have advanced access to booking this year. My aging father is coming along and we want to avoid excessive walking for him, so we wanted to book Houx or Epinettes. I logged in at 3:45am locally (8:45am in UK) to get camping passes only to be held in a queue until 4:22am. Once out of the queue none of the campgrounds aside from Epinettes and Beausejours were open. I tried to grab two sites at Epinettes but on checkout it told me they were unavailable"
Former commissaire de piste, Gwilym who has been going to the race since the late 80's told us "the ticketing system has always been a nightmare" and "I love the 24 heures so much I have learnt to ‘live with‘ the way the ACO work. Perhaps in the 21st Century that attitude doesn’t work and the ACO are still living in the early 20th". Ian, who has been going to the race for over 30 years said "we have decided due to the way the ACO have treated many people including ourselves we will show with our feet and walk away, I have had enough of the ACO and how the deal with this race" he continued "its become expensive, poor quality refreshments, campsites have not been improved in the last 10 years at all"
There is certainly a high demand for tickets as all the grandstand seats were sold out by the 17th of November 2022, along with the 10,000 early bird rate general admission tickets and a limited number of full week tickets have also been sold (15,000).
We have received some clarification from the ACO this afternoon as to what is happening at the circuit in 2023. "We have had to make several changes for this unique event. It is our firm intention to improve the spectator experience next year by welcoming more of you to the circuit, offering more food and refreshment outlets, encouraging you to share the fan zone experience and reducing vehicle traffic within the confines of the circuit" the ACO also acknowledge that this may well disrupt the usual habits of race goers. "Parking areas located within the confines of the circuit, usually allocated to the organisation, teams and media, will be moved off-site. For this reason, the White, Blue and Green parking areas have been reassigned to these users. These three external parking areas will free up a considerable amount of space within the Circuit des 24 Heures which will be used to extend the race village and host new activities and entertainment.
Secondly, the Expo parking area and Expo campsite from 2022 have been joined together for safety reasons. This will now be the Expo parking area only and will consequently increase capacity and help traffic to flow more smoothly during the event. This parking area is now sold out.
We are continuing our policy of offering as many free parking spaces as possible. These will be made available in the following parking areas: Raineries, Rotonde, ActiSud, Etamat, Aérogare and Fresne."
It is understood that there will be dedicated "Blue Badge" parking within the circuit, along with another area close by.
In respect of camping the ACO has said "We have had to revise our camping areas to offset the closure of the Blue Zone.
We are still taking bookings for the Beauséjour campsite which has been redesigned for 2023 to offer you an experience befitting of the Centenary. Free shuttles will be provided to take you to and from the circuit. A fan zone with a big screen and eateries will be created at the heart of Beauséjour.
New camping areas have been opened for booking this year. They are Clos Fleuri, located near to the Mulsanne Straight, and L'Hippodrome. They too have met with tremendous success and have already sold out.
We are working on opening further new camping areas in liaison with the local authorities and hope to start taking bookings for them very soon."
Non-members will be able to purchase camping and parking tickets from 10:00 CET on the 5th of December via the ACO website - https://ticket.24h-lemans.com/content?lang=en or via the 24h Le Mans site - https://www.24h-lemans.com/en/tickets/accomodation
At the time of writing, there are full week admission tickets available via the ACO website - and there will be further pitches in the new campsite (Clos Fleury) being released for sale this afternoon (1st December). The number of camping pitches already sold is around that of the 2022 attendance, the ACO are working on releasing more pitches when they can.
The ACO is also pushing on with its “carbon” commitments undertaken in 2022 by developing the “Green Ticket”. This low-carbon ticket gives a 10% discount on Admission tickets to spectators who use virtuous forms of transportation (train or hybrid, rechargeable hybrid or electric vehicles – proof required before or during the event).
So to sum up, if you haven't got your tickets or camping as yet, don't worry as more is being released as and when it becomes available and the ACO are working hard to manage the immense demand for the 2023 race.
Update - 18th January 2023
Today we have received confirmation for the ACO that the 2023 Le Mans 24 Hour Race week and race day is completely sold out, this includes general entry tickets which in previous years have been available on the gate.
One thing will be certain, this will be a race to remember - hopefully for good reason if you are able to get there.