Racing Resurgence: How the Ferrari 499P Reshaped History at Le Mans

The 2023 sell-out Le Mans 24 Hours easily lived up to the event’s storied past. Richard Williams looks at how Ferrari delivered the perfect 100th birthday present for the world’s greatest race by scoring a win heard round the world



Taken from Motor Sport August 2023

By the time spectators at the next Le Mans 24 Hours retreat from the noise and dust of the race to browse among the exhibits in the museum of the Circuit de la Sarthe, a tiny red car will have taken its place on a miniature podium, mounted ahead of replicas of the other 61 starters in the centenary race. The Ferrari 499P was the car that gave the organisers exactly what they wanted for their 100th birthday: a headline-making outcome that, by ending one historic period of dominance and restoring a famous name to the top of the results, justified the creation of an entire new category at the summit of endurance racing, with Le Mans as its centrepiece.

Amid room after room packed with wonders, a hall in the museum is furnished with display cabinets containing 1:43-scale models – Dinky Toy size – of every car to have competed in the 24 Hours since 1923, all precisely detailed and immaculately finished. The enthusiast can happily spend a long time in that room, tracing the evolution not just of one of the world’s most celebrated motor races but of the sport itself and the industry it represents. Had the founders of the 24 Hours been able to see into the future, this is surely what they would have wanted.