As a publication dedicated to the history of the official 24 Hours of Le Mans posters has just been released, a major player of the race, Henri Pescarolo - who figures on several of the posters himself - shared his thoughts. The record-holder for participations at the 24 Hours, 33 in all, leafed through the book and shared his five favorites.
From 1923 through 2017, re-immerse yourself with a book that has just been released the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans via the posters that represented each of the 85 editions: Histoire des affiches des 24 Heures Le Mans by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. It is a treasure trove of memories and precious documents that is in both French and English, and witnesses the evolution of the greatest Endurance race in the world, as well as its traditions and unwaivering legendary esteem.
As a major player at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Henri Pescarolo - the record-holder for participations (33), four-time winner as a driver and competitor as a team owner (from 2000 to 2012) - is the ideal candidate to share his top favorites among these works of poster art, especially as he or his cars often played the starring role in these official documents!
With his natural frankness, Henri Pescarolo admits to having a top 5 of favorites:‘’Selfishly, first of all the poster with the three Matras at the start, in the lead. It reflects the atmosphere of Le Mans. For me, those are great memories that come flooding back when I see the poster (the 1973 24 Hours of Le Mans based on a photo taken at the previous year's edition, Ed.). Still selfishly, the next choice is one that also depicts my cars, the Pescarolos, on their way to taking on the Audis. Obviously twice (on the posters from 2005 and 2006, Ed.) we were the official rival of the Audis (in 2004, the Pescarolos figured behind the Audis, Ed.), either flanking them or even positioned in front. It's a huge symbol for my team. It represents the spirit of Le Mans, this race that welcomes factory teams as well as small private outfits. I am certainly proud, as the owner of a private team, to have reached the second step on the podium at the 24 Hours (2005 and 2006, Ed.). Our car or cars made it to the posters because of our performances, not because we bought our spot, as certain marques were able to do. Let us not forget the poster plays a big role in the marketing for the event. I appreciate abstract art in a painting, but for a poster, you have to remember to present to the public what it is going to see. I have to admit I really like the posters from early last century, 1923, etc. You get a perfect feel for the identity of the race and at the same time you can track its evolution since that era. Lastly, I have an affinity for the posters created by the illustrator Geo Ham in the 1950s. With a flick of his pencil he knows how to convey the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the nature of the race. The day or night, the singular circuit, specific areas, the weather, lighting conditions, the effort and the speed. It is remarkable."
To check out any of these posters, you can purchase the book the Histoire des affiches des 24 Heures du Mans by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (Non-member price 15 euros; Member price 14.25 euros).
Though it doesn't appear in this publication, the official poster for 2018 and the 86th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans certainly takes its cue from the legacy of previous poster artists.