Living in France, I have always been fascinated by the yearly 24 Hours of Le Mans race, which began in 1923 and is the world’s oldest active sports car endurance race. If you are not familiar with Le Mans, teams of drivers take turns driving a single car along a 13.6 km circuit. The winning team is the one that logs the most distance over a single 24-hour period, with
the current record being 5,420 km. Individual drivers are not allowed to be behind the wheel for more than four hours at a time, and cannot drive more than fourteen hours in the race. Winning the race involves huge amounts of endurance, teamwork, and driving skill.
Growing up, one of my favorite teams was always the Alpine/Renault team. Alpine was a brand of French sports cars founded in 1955 that used Renault engines, and the two companies regularly worked together on race cars for Le Mans and other events. It was common to see them winning races in the 1960s and 1970s, beating teams from Porsche, Ford and others.
Renault eventually bought Alpine in 1978, and I was sad to see them retire the brand in 1995. But earlier this year I got some exciting news from Signatech, one of the most successful racing teams in France, and also a SolidWorks customer. For the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans, which runs this coming weekend, the Signatech team will be driving a car bearing the Alpine name, marking the rebirth of the Alpine brand. This is truly exciting news.
The Signatech-Alpine team will be competing in the crowded LMP-2 category this weekend (June 22-23). The car will be driven by Pierre Ragues, Nelson Panciatici and Tristan Gommendy, and I hope you will join me in wishing them luck. A win at Le Mans is just the thing the Alpine name needs to regain its status in the automotive world. You can watch the video below to learn more about the Signatech team and their plan to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
PS – If you take a look at the rear spoiler in the picture above, you might notice that Alpine isn’t the only brand name represented on the car…