2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Ford’s famous 1-2-3 with the Ford GT40. The Virage de Mulsanne Association will be celebrating the occasion at one of the famous corners in motorsport – Mulsanne Corner.
EnduranceAndGT.co.uk spoke to Mr Claude Ouvrard, President of the Virage de Mulsanne Association to find out more about the event on Friday June 17.
The name “Mulsanne Corner” is known throughout the world to enthusiasts of motor racing. What does the association with the most famous motor race in the world mean to the residents of Mulsanne and to you personally?
“The 24 Hours of Le Mans along with Mulsanne Corner are famous iconic places, drawing all motor racing enthusiasts. To contribute to the excitement of the event and to enhance its image to the world is an exciting challenge.”
What prompted the formation of the Virage de Mulsanne Association and when did it begin?
“To host an event at Mulsanne Corner between the practice and the race was a need for the residents of Mulsanne. The Association was founded in December 2011 and in 2016 presents the 5th edition of its exhibition of racing vehicles. Until 2011, the town of Mulsanne and the corner did not have any entertainment before the legendary race and thousands of enthusiasts passed through in their beautiful cars without stopping.”
What is your role within the Association?
“As President of the association since October 2014 and a member of the organisation since its inception, I am supported throughout the year by a 25-member team who organise the event.”
2016 marks a return to Le Mans by Ford and the fiftieth anniversary of the famous Ford 1-2-3 victory in 1966. How will the Virage de Mulsanne Association be celebrating this?
“Even before the announcement of Ford’s return to competition, the association wished to honour the Ford brand to celebrate the anniversary of this victory. An exhibition area located at Mulsanne Corner will host historic Ford cars. You will find different models and generations of vehicles like the Ford Mustang, Ford A, Ford T, Capri, Escort and, of course, the famous GT40.”
How many volunteers will you have working with you throughout the week of the race? Will they all be residents of Mulsanne?
“On the day of the event, nearly 80 volunteers will be working to the public, vehicles, partners, drivers and ensure the safety of all. The reputation of our event and the atmosphere within the association brings together many volunteers who live in the town or nearby but we also have volunteers who live more than 200 kilometres away. Of these, many track officials are present in uniform on the track to facilitate vehicle parking and the movement of vehicles in the exhibition area. Indeed, the exhibition takes place on the track from Mulsanne Corner towards Arnage Corner for other vehicle collections.”
What would you say to any race fans who are travelling to the 24 Hours of Le Mans but who have not visited Mulsanne?
“Discover for free a superb exhibition of classic cars in beautiful surroundings, the track and Mulsanne Corner. Meet drivers or former drivers who will share their passion with you. You can leave with a souvenir photo, an autograph or a gift. More than 500 vehicles will be on display during the day as the hundreds of visitors last year saw. Come and celebrate the Mulsanne Corner on June 17 from 09:00 to 16:00.”
The exhibition and festivities take place at Mulsanne Corner on Friday June 17 between 09:00 and 16:00, after which visitors can continue to Le Mans to visit the Drivers Parade.