- LE MANS -
- LE MANS -
Every year, thousands gather at the world famous Circuit de la Sarthe to witness one of the oldest and most historic endurance motorsport races of all time - the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At Piloti, we are proud official partners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and each year, we work with their incredible team to bring our fans a one-of-a-kind, collaboration driving shoe. For our 2019 collaboration, we created our Endurance shoe, to pay homage to the grit and perseverance so expertly displayed by the drivers and crew of each Le Mans endurance team.
So, when it came to scouting a photography location for our Endurance shoe, we knew that no where on earth could be more fitting than the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. Our 503km journey to Le Mans began in London - from our European headquarters - where we picked up a Range Rover Sport that we rented for the trip. We then headed towards our first stop - the town of Folkstone. Of course, no road trip would be complete without hitting a few bumps along the way.
We had planned to meet our photographer, Alex, in Folkstone (roughly 2 hours from Central London). But before reaching our destination, we blew a flat in our right rear tire.
It was all in good humour until we realized that we weren't provided a spare. This delayed our trip by a few hours, and we ultimately spent the night in Folkstone, and decided to resume our trip the next morning. The following day, we met up with Alex and caught the Eurotunnel (a shuttle that travels from the United Kingdom to mainland Europe, roughly 75km or 250ft below sea level) from Folkstone to Calais.
After emerging in Calais, we had a scenic drive ahead of us to Le Mans through the French countryside - complete with long, winding highways and endless stretches of flat farm land. After our less than stellar beginning, this part of the trip was thoroughly refreshing to drive!
After roughly 6 hours, we arrived at our destination in Le Mans and headed directly to the Mulsanne Straight - a 3.7 mile stretch of road forming part of the famous Circuit de la Sarthe. On the average day, the Mulsanne Straight can be driven by anyone, since the highway is open to the public up to 1 hour before a race - but for car lovers, it's a few pressure moments of feeling like a pro.
Adjacent to the La Sarthe track is the Musée des 24 Heures du Mans - a permanent exhibition of over 100 cars, where we spent the bulk of our time taking still photography (though we were also lucky enough to get grid access for a few hours!). This incredible attraction allows viewers to celebrate the evolution of both racing and consumer cars over the years. We were able to photograph our Endurance shoe on some rare and unique cars - including a '71 Porsche 917 LH, '67 Ford GT40 and '49 Ferrari 166 MM Barquette Touring. The town of Le Mans is also significantly less busy in the off season, which makes booking accommodation much easier at other times of the year. It gets booked up almost a year in advance at race time!
After a few days of shooting, we made our way back to London - a return journey that was thankfully, much less eventful. All in all, we had an unforgettable experience making our way from London to Le Mans, and encourage anyone who is a racing fan to explore this unique piece of motorsport history - though you can do without the flat tire. In fact, if you have a few extra days, you can even make a quick detour to Paris, which is only two hours away.