The Automobile Club is in mourning for one of its most steadfast members Marcel Martin, a passionate motor sport fan and renowned Le Mans 24-Hours race director, who has passed away at the age of 88.
“Long live the Le Mans 24 Hours and may the race be as successful and make as much of an impact all over the world as it has since its creation thanks to the exceptional aura that it enjoys,” is what Marcel Martin said in June 2000 when he decided to leave his role as race director of the Le Mans 24 Hours. “After twenty years of doing this job I’ve decided to bow out so that the 21st century will kick off with a new man at the helm of this prestigious event. May he feel as much joy as I do when lowering the chequered flag in front of the winner, a joy that is always more intense when he comes from our country.” Daniel Poissenot took over the reins from Marcel Martin becoming the fifth Le Mans 24 Hours race director.
Martin died on Wednesday 21st February 2018 in Pau where he had lived for some 20 years. From an early age he linked his life and his activities to motor sport and to the Le Mans 24 Hours. He founded the “ecurie du Maine” and raced in rallies and hill climbs as well as being a pit marshal at the 24 Hours. In 1967 and 1968 he raced in the event in an Abarth 1300 followed by a Fiat Dino with Jean Mesange from the Sarthe as team-mate. Helped by this experience he joined the nerve centre of the 24 Hours, became assistant race director and succeeded Charles Deutsch when the latter passed away in 1980. His stint was marked by innovative responsible decisions. These included the use of safety cars and he also worked with Jean-Pierre Moreau, the ACO Sport Manager at the time, on track surveillance by installing cameras on the Bugatti circuit, the first ever to be equipped with these devices.
He was equally respected by entrants and marshals, and the FIA also asked him to inspect circuits all over the world. Martin was a hands-on man of principle and he left his mark on Le Mans, the ACO and the world of motor sport.
Pierre Fillon, ACO president: “Marcel Martin was a benchmark, a pillar of the ACO and also of our sport. We are all deeply saddened by his death. He has left us a heritage, a certain idea of motor racing that we’ll devote ourselves to respecting. I would like to send my warmest and heartfelt thoughts to his family and his nearest and dearest.”