Steve McQueen, Paul Newman or even Patrick Dempsey, these stars of cinema and the small screen, have also been leading players in the long and glorious history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans which celebrates its 100th anniversary on Friday, two weeks before the 2023 edition:
Known around the world for having played Doctor Derek Shepherd in the medical series “Grey’s Anatomy”, the 57-year-old American actor is a big fan of motorsport, so much so that he has his own team, Dempsey Racing, since 2002.
He participated in what he considers “the greatest car race in the world” four times (2009, 2013, 2014, 2015), rallying the finish each time.
His best result came in 2015 at the wheel of a Porsche 911 with a 2nd place in the LM GTE Am category and 22nd overall.
In 2018, he even took the top step of the podium as team boss with the victory of his Porsche 911 RSR driven by Australian Matt Campbell, German Christian Reid and Frenchman Julien Andlauer.
Brad Pitt has never participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but he made a remarkable passage in the Sarthe in 2016.
The American actor gives the start of the legendary endurance race with a short and now legendary phrase, in French: “Pilots, free the engines”.
This 2016 edition also had a very Hollywood accent since several stars were present at Le Mans: Patrick Dempsey, Keanu Reeves, Jackie Chan or even Jason Statham.
A few hours earlier, Pitt had completed a lap of the circuit aboard a Pescarolo prototype with Austrian driver Alexander Wurz, double winner of the 24 Hours, to the delight of the thousands of fans who could follow the scene on giant screens. using an on-board camera.
+ JEAN-LOUIS TRINTIGNANT
His uncle, Maurice Trintignant participated in no less than fifteen editions of the most famous endurance race in the world, and even won in 1954.
Jean-Louis Trintignant joined this family tradition by participating in the event in 1980, but the actor, who died in 2022, will not have very good memories of it.
Engaged in a yellow Porsche 935 with Anny-Charlotte Verney and Xavier Lapeyre, he was forced to retire after an accident at very high speed on the mythical Mulsanne Straight.
“During those few seconds, I really thought I was going to die,” he explained to Maine Libre in 2012.
Paul Newman took part in only one edition of the 24 Hours, in 1979, but he almost won at the canonical age of 54!
At the height of his glory, the interpreter of “The Infernal Tower” and “The Scam”, finished second in the general classification and winner of his category at the wheel of a Porsche 935.
Newman, who discovered motorsport in 1968 during the filming of the film “Virages” where he camped a pilot of the 500 Miles of Indianapolis, did not go unnoticed in the Sarthe: his photo in red jumpsuit and glasses sun traveled around the world.
He created his own team in 1978 and joined forces with entrepreneur Carl Haas to found Newman/Haas Racing in 1983, which would achieve many successes, including eight ChampCar titles, including four consecutive titles with Frenchman Sébastien Bourdais between 2004 and 2007.
In 1995, at age 70, he won the 24 Hours of Daytona in the GTS-1 class at the wheel of a Ford Mustang.
+ STEVE McQUEEN
Steve McQueen deeply marked the 1970 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans… without having been able to participate.
The actor, famous for his roles in “The Great Escape”, “Bullitt” or even “Papillon”, had come to France to shoot sequences for a film called “Le Mans” and directed by Lee H. Katzin.
He also hoped to compete in the event at the wheel of a Porsche 917 shared in particular with the Briton Jackie Stewart, reigning Formula 1 world champion, which his insurance companies categorically refuse.
A good part of the film was shot in June 1970 during the 38th edition thanks in particular to three cameras on board a Porsche 908 taking part in the event. That year, he multiplied his visits to the Sarthe: he took a seat in the Brabham F2 of the Briton Derek Bell in July and met the five-time Argentinian F1 world champion Juan Manuel Fangio in October.