One of the first things I
did as a Le Mans 'anorak' when I put up my website back in February 2001
was to scan in my Le Mans tickets. Unfortunately I hadn't saved
any between 1986 and 1990, but I managed to obtain copies of some of the
2019 update. I've now managed
to acquire tickets for the years that I didn't retain them, including
some that I didn't have in the first place. For the record, I've
kept all my tickets since 1993. I thought it was time
to put scans of them up again and, in case there is any interest in
this, a little 'running commentary'.....
I'm not quite sure why I find these
fascinating, probably because most Le Mans 'memorabilia' captures my
interest. But the development of the tickets, even over the 33
years I've been going (it is now January 2019) has seen a lot of change
by the ACO, albeit not always for the better. The tickets are
now much more robust than they used to be, card having long replaced
flimsy paper and we have bar codes for the automatic recognition of the
tickets at the entrances/exits. This has also (largely) spelled
the demise of the 'contremarque', the ticket received on leaving the
track (or a grandstand), the production of which on re-entry was
supposed to make it impossible to hand your ticket on to someone else.
The tickets have also got bigger, so the ticket holders that some of us
use have also had to increase in size (actually making them more awkward
in that they're prone to blow about in the wind), but sadly the designs have become very
corporate indeed, lacking the imagination and artistry of my early days
at the race.
By the way, the images are all
'thumbnails' which will take you to larger images of the tickets.
My first 4 years at Le Mans. Great
tickets which included the image from the posters for those years.
The red and white ticket from 1986 gave access to the reserved parking
in Garage Rouge (or Parking Rouge). The 1987 tickets show the first example of a contremarque. The 'Welcome' ticket enabled access to the
relatively tall building just beyond pit out which gave a great
view down the pits and the straight. But it wasn't cheap - 100F in
1987 (nearly 32 years ago) was a decent sum of money, around £10, based
upon the old 10F to the £ rule of thumb. You can also see how the
prices of the various tickets have altered year by year, although you do have
to compare the same price 'series', as the ACO has always sold
discounted tickets to members and others.
The tickets from 1990 to 1995 continued
the pictorial theme however the decline began in 1996 with a rather dull
sponsored ticket, however even that was at least colourful compared to
the bland offerings that followed for the rest of the 90's (and beyond).
1990 was the first time I had a grandstand seat (although the Tourists
actually only had three seats shared between the four of us) which we
bought on the quayside at Portsmouth. I also had a grandstand seat
in 1992, where 'Pierre' and I sat in what was at that time called the
'Sarthe' grandstand (or was it 'Maison Blanche'?) which now has the
rather less inspiring name of Raccordement. Surprisingly I
didn't retain any contremarques through this period. The 1992
ticket (which is not one of my originals) appears to have been a
'freebie'..... The 1993 ticket is one of my favourites in that it
retains some of the tear-off parts for days of the event. As these
tickets were effectively issued for the week, the ACO needed some means
of identifying which day(s) you had attended - it's now a familiar
enough concept. 1994 saw the arrival of bar codes on the tickets,
although from memory, the 'zapping' of tickets at the gate, initially with
hand-held zappers didn't begin until a number of years later, so I guess
the bar codes had some other purpose at this time. The 1995 ticket
(and the programme and poster) were a real disappointment, featuring as
they did not a photograph of a Honda NSX, but an artistic impression....
The rot really set in between 1997 and 1999 with probably the most
boring and unimaginative tickets the ACO have ever issued. 1997
was my first year as an ACO member and the eagle-eyed will see that as a
result I paid 80F less for my ticket than I had the year before.
It was also the first ticket on card rather than paper. In fact,
the cost of the members enceintes générales (general entry) ticket
didn't increase again until 2001, which was pretty impressive.
Note that the 1999 ticket shows the cost in both Francs and Euros.
What can I say about the noughties tickets?
The era of the bland? Well, slightly less bland than the end of
the 90's, I guess. There was clearly a dominating Audi influence
throughout most of the decade,
particularly towards the end of it, however you only had to be
at the circuit during these times to see the extent to which Audi had
'influence' with the ACO over advertising and corporate matters with larger and larger banner adverts and the 'adoption' of areas of
the track for guests of Audi to get what I suspect was a
relatively brief look into the event which they had dominated.
As to the tickets, note the disappearance
of the Franc from the tickets in 2002 and my continued dalliance with
the wonderful Welcome building. More importantly, in 2002 I had my
first grandstand seat since 1993 courtesy of my new French friend Fab.
In fact, that ticket raises a bit of a quandary in my mind as the ticket
shows Tribune T07. Now there is no Tribune T07 nor (as far as my
research goes) has there ever been a Tribune T07 opposite the pits.
My photographs suggest that we had a good view across to pit in which to
my mind equates to Leonard (T20) or Tavano (T21), but I can't be sure.
The plot thickens further in that my grandstand seat for 2003 says T12
which is actually now Benoist, but I've never sat in that stand and I
know for sure that I sat with Fab in the pits grandstand (T34) in 2003.
In 2004 I sat in T34 again and that is what the ticket for that year
shows. So did the grandstand numbers change between 2003 and 2004?
Can someone enlighten me?
2005 saw me manage to salvage a Parking
Rouge ticket for the first time from one of the Tourist's cars.
They tended to stick these to the windscreen (as you were supposed to)
but they were difficult to remove again in one piece. I don't think this one was ever
affixed! 2006 and 2007 were my two extravagant years when I had
not one but two grandstand seats, Tertre Rouge (down near the corner) in
2006 and Dunlop in 2007. They were indeed a true extravagance as
I doubt that I spent more than an hour in each of them in those years.
My 2006 Tertre Rouge ticket has all of its stubs which enhances the
illustration significantly. The tickets were gradually getting
bigger and we ended the decade with quite a departure in 2009 with
something of a Pescarolo celebration, a case of nice ticket but surely
it should have been a Peugeot celebration? 2009 was also a major
moment in my Le Mans 'career' as it was my final Le Mans with the Tourists.
And so to the last eight years. The
'theme' of 2009 continued into 2010 with that vague hope that Henri
might just pull off something the French could rightly be very proud of,
but it wasn't to be. I like the tickets though. 2011 was
colourful and patriotic while 2012 actually showed a return to a bit of
artistic imagination. 2013,
whilst not doing the same, is still memorable because of the departure
from anything quite like it previously - for the 90 years celebration of
course (or 91, as you prefer....). Although 2014 showed some
promise, 2015-2018 were sadly very bland with virtually no difference
between them - disappointing.
We did of course have the fun of 2014 and
the tickets that turned black in the sun. The parking ticket I
retained gives the general idea but I saw many much worse than that.
2014 and 2017 also saw rare reappearances of the contremarque for
Mulsanne and Arnage, unsurprisingly missing the technology of the
entrances back at the main part of the circuit.
And what of 2019? I could put up
scans of my tickets, as I have them already (although that would
probably not be sensible...) but I can say that they're a
departure from the last three years (thankfully), something akin to a
return to 2014, and with a degree of patriotism....?
And just to round things off, I went to
the first Le Mans Classic in 2002, having been invited by Tourist Chris,
whose brother was competing. I went along with several
competitors, Willie Green, Whizzo Williams and a chap named Peter
Neumark, a wealthy chap who was running a D-Type as I recall. I
took photos for him and his pal but never received any kind of reply
when I sent them to him. Ah well.... It was a seriously
expensive weekend and I completely ran out of money! And the tickets
were dreadful. I've never been again, not because I have no
desire to but in 2004 the biennial event was moved to July and there
was no way I could do Le Mans in June and then go back again for the
Classic just a few weeks later. The 'Concurrent' (competitor)
badge was given to me by someone on the trip, I don't remember who.
I reckon it just about counts as a ticket....
The 1978 tickets were obtained by
coincidence. From time to time, I buy Le Mans programmes when I
can pick them up cheaply on eBay and I bought the 1978 programme last
year. In it were the two tickets - a bonus. Its interesting
how the ticket design has some stylistic links to some of the tickets from the
LE MANS CLASSIC 2002