Enjoy a slice of Le Mans to mark 100 years of the world’s most famous endurance race here in Coventry

This weekend one of the world’s most famous car races celebrates its 100 year anniversary.

24 hours of Le Mans, or as it is more often known Le Mans, is the longest running active endurance racing event.

Though held near the town of the same name in north western France, you can soak up some of Le Mans right here in Coventry this weekend.

The city’s Transport Museum is home to a Coventry-built racing car which not only took part in the race shortly after its inception, but also won its class and finished eighth overall.

The Lea Francis Hyper raced through Gallic streets in the 1929 competition. Unlike other races, the impetus isn’t on finishing first, rather covering the greatest distance possible.

‘Gentleman Racer’ Kenneth Peacock took the helm of the Hyper, with Coventry businessman and Jaguar car distributor Sammy Newsome as his co-driver. Together they completed 136 laps of the circuit, finishing ahead of any other car of their engine size.

The Hyper is still in pristine condition and can be found at the Transport Museum.

But an even more interactive Le Mans experience can be enjoyed this weekend too. 

To mark 100 years of Le Mans, the Museum’s 4D Thrust SSC Simulator will be showing two films for the price of one. 

The first is the usual land-speed record breaking Thrust simulation, but the second is a unique opportunity to take part in a virtual version of the 1956 Le Mans race.

This unique experience sees sim participants on board with 1950s racing icon Mike Hawthorne as he drives the race in a Coventry-built Jaguar D-Type.

You see everything Hawthorne saw in June 1956, as he overtakes traffic, dodges cyclists and zips around tight corners, all while commentating in clipped upper-class English tones as he goes. Hawthorne retired from racing in 1959. He died in a car crash just months later aged 29.

You can take part in both Thrust and Le Mans simulations for just £3. This offer runs 10 and 11 June. Tickets are available to book on the day at reception and are subject to availability.

Transport Museum general manager Steve Spencer said: “It’s 100 years of one of the most iconic races in the world and as we have several connections to Le Mans, we really want people to come and celebrate it with us.

“Obviously Coventry has such a rich motoring history so it’s only natural we have these connections to such huge events around the world.

“The simulator really gets the heart pumping and is a must visit for anyone with a need for speed, but also this weekend for anyone with a fascination for history – watching Mike Hawthorne traverse through the French countryside is quite a ride and his commentary is unique too.” 

Find out more about the simulator here.