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Le Mans, France, 2 June, 2014

The automobile museum at Le Mans has recently undergone a total revamp of the interior layout, with new galleries and new exhibits, portraying the history of the famous 24 Hour Race and also the evolution of the car itself. The new layout is essentially divided into six specific areas, which are in sequence as one enters the museum, each with its own theme, plus a temporary exhibition area. At the moment, and until September this year, the temporary exhibition celebrates Matra, with a trio of sports racing models and a F1 car as part of the display.

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The first gallery is the “Allee des Heros” (Hero’s Alley), a subtly lit avenue, with portraits of people and associated memorabilia famously connected with either the race itself, like multiple winners Derek Bell, Jacky Ickx and Tom Kristensen, or with motor racing, like Enzo Ferrari. This leads you into a circular room with the name “La Legende”, where there is a central feature of an illuminated scale model of the circuit and its environs, with the evolution of the circuit described around the walls, plus videos from the races on screens around the room. Either side of this area are galleries 3, 4 and 5, the contents of which are a variety of vehicles that are part of automobile history, like the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, the Citroen 2CV, Cadillac Eldorado, Dino 206 GT Prototype, Ralph Nader’s “favourite car to hate” the Chevrolet Corvair, plus obscurities like the SEV Marchal advertising van, a vintage Buenos Aires fire engine and a 1924 Delahaye petrol tanker.

For motor racing fans it will be gallery 6, which will take the longest time to pass through, as it takes up the whole of the length of one side of the museum, and is crammed with Le Mans race cars from all generations and race classes. It is a vivid portrayal of how the sports racing car has developed over the years, and is right up to date with an example of the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro that won the 2013 race. Along the way there is a 1925 Chenard & Walcker “Tank”, a 1939 Simca Gordini, a Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta, of the type that won the 1949 race, a Jaguar D-Type, a selection of French cars that went for the Index of Performance prize, a Ford GT40, a Porsche 917 and 911 GT1, plus a Bentley Speed 8, to name but a few of an impressive array.
If you are in town for the Le Mans race, or just passing through, it is definitely worth a visit. Details of opening times, admission prices and special exhibitions, conferences etc, can be found at www.lemusee24h.com

Keith Bluemel
06/2014



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