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Old 22 Jun 2023, 08:31 (Ref:4164965)   #1
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I've been reading around after this year's race, on here, other forums and social media generally. I've read a number of comments - on FB especially - regarding people having their Le Mans 'ruined' by the huge crowd and I thought I'd just check out the views of people here.

We knew in advance that this year would be 'busy', what with the centenary and the prospect of manufacturers returning to Le Mans. If we doubted how busy it would be then the sometimes frantic quest for tickets that I witnessed elsewhere was pretty good evidence of a likely full house. IIRC the ACO have quoted 325,000 as their official attendance figure (over the week, I presume). In past years, even the much 'leaner' years, they have regularly quoted 225-250k, so how much difference did an extra 75-100k make (to you)?

I ask because I was surprised by some of the things I've read. For me in all honesty, it didn't feel that much busier - other than the queues for shops and eateries and the traffic, particularly around Arnage village (at any time). Yet my trips in to the circuit and my car park were a breeze. Our drives out to Arnage and Mulsanne Corner on Wednesday and Thursday were really easy once we realised that we needed to follow the signed diversions.

I accept that my group was protected to an extent by the fact that we had really good grandstand seats which we spent more time in than we usually would so we didn't need to rub shoulders with the crowds trying to find somewhere to watch from but I don't really recall any time when I would say we were badly inconvenienced by the crowds. As I've said already elsewhere, it seemed to me that this year the people who had the best time were perhaps a little more savvy when making decisions about what to do and where to go (and when) and those who tried to stick rigidly to their time-honoured game plans maybe came unstuck?

So, what was your take on the 'busiest' Le Mans for years?
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 09:08 (Ref:4164970)   #2
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Well the campsite was filling up tuesday this year and by wednesday the scurity was trying to fit people in and if they found those taking more space were making attempts to get them to squeeze up. On saturday the area around tertre rouge was absolutely jammed, i have never seen ity so busy and the access road was impassable to just about anything although some servive vehicles were trying to get through. After about and hour our campsite became the through road for ambulances and they treated many people for heat related issues and there were quite a few from the area at tertre rouge as very little shade. Strangely the sunday was actually quieter than usual and even at the end of the race numbers emmed lower than previous years.
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 09:51 (Ref:4164975)   #3
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I'm with you Ayse. It's a little like the difference between a 3.15 lap and a 3.30 lap, it's all pretty fast to my eyes! It was busy sure, and having the concert area in parking vert made that area pretty busy, but if you timed things right it didn't cause too much grief, i still can't believe i was ordering a drive thru Burger King only around 3 hours after the race, i'm sure it used to take like 3 hours to even get to the motorway! Plus I will take 8 Hypercar teams and a huge crowd over 2 Hypercar teams and smaller crowd any day of the week.
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 09:55 (Ref:4164977)   #4
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I am also wity you Andrew, had the same feeling that it didn't feel that much busier.
Campsites were filling up faster then before that's for sure and the wednesday felt like a saturday crowdwise with all grandstands full with people.
But in all we had no problems with the people traffic around the place.
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 11:58 (Ref:4164986)   #5
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Like many things in life, it was about location and timing imho.
We spent quite a lot of time at Mulsanne Corner having a pitch (mainly for R&R, with a hotel for sleeping etc.), and that area didn't seem any busier than usual, and possibly quieter on the camping front.
However the time we spent at the circuit was hard work and to me the extra crowds were definitely obvious at times, but then we just adjusted our plans accordingly.
Some friends of ours usually make their way down to Tertre Rouge for the start but gave up trying to get there due to the crowds and lack of space.
In some ways it reminded me of the very first Classic in that they didn't have the facilities set up to cater for the larger crowd.
Traffic wise they did seem to change road closures on the fly, but being regulars, like many on here, we already knew the routes to take anyway, and the route to Mulsanne from Expo via Ruaudin was very quiet at the times we used. There was plenty of signage and I'm sure the people who had issues were those not following the signs!
Access in and out of Expo was a doddle, miss Blanc though, entry via the North Gate seemed easy enough, I didn't use any of the temporary footbridges, but I presume they worked, although they did seem quite narrow to me.
Anyway, in all reality, this is a once in a 100 years issue And I think we all expect crowds to start dropping, mind you the 100th race might also raise crowds.
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 12:16 (Ref:4164987)   #6
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i am not sure people are or were bothered about the "Anniversary" it was the appearance of the big cars that made the people turn up and next year it could be worse with even more manufacurer teams. For us regular le mans people the 100 anniversary had a meaning but we would have gone if there were two milk floats going around the circuit
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 13:04 (Ref:4164997)   #7
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The crowds were noticeable when I couldn't get tickets!


But having got there, Mulsanne/Arnage seemed no busier than usual during the week. And Mulsanne on Sunday afternoon was fine. The extended spectator area there has made a big difference.
Saturday is always the busiest day but it was a lot busier than usual. We got to Tertre Rouge on Saturday morning and hunkered down for the start. By 4pm it was the busiest I have ever seen there. People all the way up the bank into the trees.
But we had few significant issues with queues or traffic jams. One exception being trying to get out of Expo car park on Saturday night (about 1am Sunday actually). That took a while because the layout is bad. Pedestrians and cars sharing the only exit doesn't work. Especially when those pedestrians then cross the road at the exit, stopping the traffic. A separate pedestrian exit would help a lot.
There was also a queue for the museum. It moved pretty quickly but the heat made it seem longer.



But I agree with others that having experience of the event makes a big difference when you have to change your plans. It could have been quite daunting for a total newbie without a guide.



One thing that always amazes and pleases me is how quiet the roads in the surrounding countryside are during the event. No different this year.
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 13:20 (Ref:4164998)   #8
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When I attended in 2017 I was amazed by how un-busy it felt considdering a quarter of a million people were there. There's more human congestion in my local Tesco.
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 13:51 (Ref:4165002)   #9
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But we had few significant issues with queues or traffic jams. One exception being trying to get out of Expo car park on Saturday night (about 1am Sunday actually). That took a while because the layout is bad. Pedestrians and cars sharing the only exit doesn't work. Especially when those pedestrians then cross the road at the exit, stopping the traffic. A separate pedestrian exit would help a lot.
This is a good point Mike. It seemed pretty absurd to have vehicles and pedestrians exiting from the same gate. A pedestrian gate further down nearer the (road) bridge with people directed to it would have made far more sense.
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 14:01 (Ref:4165005)   #10
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I was going to mention this in the feedback survey but forgot...
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 14:21 (Ref:4165010)   #11
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Just got an email to say the Classic is sold out and the ticket resale site is open again.
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 14:29 (Ref:4165012)   #12
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Dominion should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridDominion should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
My first year was 2021 so, while I did go in 2022, I’m probably not as well placed to compare as others.
Campsite (Epinettes) and access to and from was fine h til leaving Sunday. We arrived Tuesday afternoon and got as good a pitch as we could’ve asked for. Generally I accessed the track through Houx/Garage Vert pedestrian entrance and never encountered more than a handful of people in front so all fine.
Getting around it was busy but the only bottlenecks were track access on Friday I felt, other than that I got around no issue. Generally we ate/drank in the ACO parts, either grandstand or La Chapelle. Again we always managed to get a seat and never a queue for the grandstand toilets. La Chapelle needed more toilets, it was much bigger than last year but the changes were good and a nice place to rest.
Viewing areas were very busy, you really needed to get there plenty in advance which ended up being a bit of a chore in the heat.

Saturday night/Sunday morning I got down to Mulsanne no issue, 3 buses waiting at entrée est and got a good spot on the viewing banking. I’d normally head down to Arnage too but reports suggested it was very busy so stayed in my nice spot until sunrise. Bus back to circuit no issues again. Headed up for the finish and found a spot at the end of pit lane near the Alpine hospitality and watched from there, big screen behind to keep updated so wasn’t too bad.

All in all yes it was busy, even the practice sessions and I’d hope the ACO will learn from that for next year, access to the members area’s definitely worth it this year. The additions of fan zones on the campsites was good and facilities on the sites were kept very clean and always hot water in the showers.

For me, whilst it was harder to get a good viewing spot than previous it was worth it to see a fantastic race in the top class. Both my previous visits it’s been a forgone conclusion and you’re looking for excitement in the other classes. Also, even as someone who normally loves the heat, it got a bit too much for me and I’d probably look at grandstand seats next year for a bit of shade. Hotel/air bnb would be an option but I think I’d miss the campsite atmosphere, although maybe not the 2am EDM.
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 15:07 (Ref:4165015)   #13
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If you thought you could rock up 10mins before a session in the week and get a seat you were mistaken. It just took a little adjustment of adding more time in order to be where you needed to be slightly earlier. But frequently people were sitting in the aisles of grandstands which I haven't seen much before.

I haven't had to fight for a pre-race spot since 2012 so couldn't say whether that was worse. Have to assume it probably was. The grandstand is just invaluable really and I tend to agree that, we'll probably end up with the same crowd next year, but more people will have wised up to the need to prep on time and make advance bookings.
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 16:34 (Ref:4165032)   #14
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One of our major gripes last year was the non-existent stewarding of our grandstand (T17). It's a members grandstand and it hopefully doesn't sound too pompous to say that we expected to have a decent view, but it was spoiled by people standing in the stairwells and in the aisles. This year, the ACO staff were on good form. We did have people start to sit in the aisles but they were quickly moved out. These people had no tickets as once ejected they didn't come back. In fact the 'policing' of the entrances to the stand was much tighter than I'd ever seen it before. At several points in time during the week they weren't allowing anyone in without seeing their blue wristband. So well done to the ACO for getting that sorted out. Looking back, the grandstand seats were fantastic, I'd done a lot of homework to pick out our preferred options prior to the booking opening and I was lucky to get pretty much my first choice. I spent many years going to Le Mans without a grandstand seat but now that I'm older and less fit (as well as being the driver in the group), I'm not sure that I could have handled having no seat to return to to rest up in the shade. Food and ice cold drinks from the cafe were a big plus too.
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Old 22 Jun 2023, 22:04 (Ref:4165054)   #15
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RL17 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridRL17 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridRL17 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
Lots of people whinging had their routines changed by camping and parking changes.

For us the same private camping at Porsche curves was pretty unaffected and despite fears of congestion near BSJ roundabout it was easier getting in and out by car this year. Got out by car via Tertre rouge bar exit Thursday Friday and Saturday and back pretty well as self catering this year. (People arriving earlier for BSJ pitches helped)

New Porsche bridge helped getting to T23 greatly and didn’t use start/finish tunnel once.

Great race helped with staying in stand for longer at start and finish. Easier bus trip to Arnage

ACO guest etc helped re toilets and food queues - did queue a bit a La Chappelle Sat evening but got seats Ok

Missed parade and didn’t go to museum as time short and prioritised race.

Big crowd and didn’t try walking in front of stands on Saturday

Overall pleased with big crowd for event, fan zones and other areas improved overall - outside toilet missed

But great event and great race
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Old 23 Jun 2023, 06:40 (Ref:4165065)   #16
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From my perspective:

Camping - we were on Epinettes again, there seemed to be more camper vans than usual (perhaps refugees from other sites) so facilities weren't much busier.

Grandstand - T17 'ACO' stand. There were definitely fewer people in the 'backstage' dining area than usual - maybe because there were additional members facilities this year. The toilets and bar behind T18 were always quiet.

Spent the start and finish periods in the stand so didn't experience any crowds in the public areas.

Out and About: Partly due to the heat I only went through the Village later on Saturday evening when it was quiet. Early (7am) on Sunday it was pretty quiet trackside, lots of people sleeping on the banking at Tertre Rouge.

I noticed big queues at the circuit toilets and food stands all weekend, but didn't need to use either.

One annoyance was the closing of the bottom part of Houx camping which is the usual route from Epinettes to the stands/village. You could wander down a back alley between the camp fence and the Bugatti circuit and then down a bank by the tunnel under the track.
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Old 23 Jun 2023, 07:12 (Ref:4165068)   #17
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I thought it was a good crowd -

Packed in well before Hyperpole- our normal stand rammed well before so went all way back to Porsche curves

Pre race outside of track from T23 to Tertre Rouge crowded and patient and stayed long after start and pretty much same on Sunday pm

Good to see so many focused on the racing as opposed to some events where everyone mills around and there’s a bit of racing in the background

Screen no longer opposite Porsche curves (moved to fan zone ? ) wax a minor pain.

Nearest we got to Arnage village was bus trip down closed road. Avoided it on arrival, 4 car trips out and back and departure from BSJ/Porsche curves. Was Arnage busy for traffic and breakfast stops or lunches etc?
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Old 27 Jun 2023, 09:27 (Ref:4165647)   #18
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So it was undeniably busier this year, felt particularly in the village, where queues to get into merchandise shops were extraordinary. I was also struck overnight that the inside of Tertre Rouge was markedly crowded.
However - it was all very good natured, the marshalling of grandstands was the best I've seen - lost a small bet with myself that I'd have to evict someone from my seat in Dunlop - contrast to previous years the stand was full, but not overfull.
I was also struck that traffic flows and in and out of the track worked well. Managed to do a Carrefour run on Saturday morning with no drama, and getting away on Sunday evening was entirely seamless - well away from the track by 1700 and in hotel by about 1730.
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Old 27 Jun 2023, 09:36 (Ref:4165649)   #19
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Yeah it was the easiest time we've had leaving Houx/Houx Annexe site post race in many years. Blocking the exits for an hour after the flag maybe not the worst idea after all.
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Old 27 Jun 2023, 10:35 (Ref:4165662)   #20
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I'm no regular but we were somewhat impacted by the crowds. Last time we got to the steps near the start/finish line about 2 hours before the start and it was fine. This time, there was no chance of even getting in that area. We knew we were cutting close by not getting there earlier. Didn't figure it would be that hard to find a spot but it was. We saw the cars for about 30 min. of the first 4 hours as we just kept wandering to find a spot. Every decent spot was taken.
Also disappointed how long the lines were to get into the museum.

Daytona 24h was similarly crowded this year as well. We were amazed how packed all the good spots were for the first few hours compared to the last several years.
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Old 27 Jun 2023, 16:33 (Ref:4165692)   #21
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This is only my third time so still learning. I did notice the increased attendance on Saturday. I booked a T18 seat which was excellent for the start and later in the night. After about 3hrs I wandered up to Tertre Rouge and as others have said it was pretty crowded. I didn't try to walk in front of the stands.

I stayed mainly in the TR/Dunlop area and took advantage of the La Chappelle area where I thought the catering and seating etc. were pretty good. Does need more toilets but hey ho. When darkness fell I went back to TR then from around midnight I was either in my GS seat or the ACO restaurant, where I bumped into a few tenthers. Went back to TR for the non existent sunrise. Finally I wandered back to La Chappelle where I watched the race until about 2pm when I headed back to the Camp Site.

Overall I thought there were less people on the Sunday than previously but the Saturday was extremely busy I entered the circuit via Port Est and the queue was about 30mins. Having arrived on Wednesday mid-day I sorted my wrist band and did my shopping that afternoon, so Thursday onwards would be "free". I went to the Classic British Welcome at Saint Saturnin on the Friday so did a "shop" for further supplies on the way back. The only gripe was trying to find my way back to BSJ, eventually I had to go through the Expo car park and pass Port Est due to the road closures.

Last year I ventured to Arnage but this year, I just concentrated on the top part of the track. The increased competiton at the front made the event much more interesting and IMO more than matched the excitement of the GT class.

I left on Monday morning so had no issue with traffic.

Overall, I'd say this was my best experience yet, even though I'd prefer to stay on Porsche Curves.
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Old 27 Jun 2023, 22:14 (Ref:4165723)   #22
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On Saturday morning the crowds were streaming from trams to Port Est just after 9am all clutching chairs so not surprised at crowds on the big steps up the main straight and elsewhere.

Didn’t pay much attention to P2 or GTE Am as had access to big screen opposite stand and there was loads of action on Hypercar class and great race. (GTE Am has never matched the close racing of Pro a few years back and surprised the Corvette wasn’t looked at after coming back from 2 laps down).

Roads in and out from BSJ and BSJ security were surprisingly fine - either via Port Est and out on to dual carriageway east or the road past the main gate and the corporate parking (didn’t try Sat though) - again linked into a very short stretch of dual carriageway arriving or back by Expo.

Didn’t need to park in car parks but saw every bit of verge between BSJ and Port Est parked on including cars in small gaps right behind lampposts hemmed on by trees behind and cars at either end and s few hammocks between the trees too.
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