The 24 Hours of Le Mans kicked off this weekend with many auto manufacturers lining up for the world’s toughest endurance race. LeBron James was invited to start the iconic race officially – the only problem was he was wearing a Patek Philippe, not a Rolex.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the most prestigious endurance races in the world, held annually in Le Mans, France. The race was first held in 1923 and was created by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) as a way to showcase automotive endurance and technological advancements.
The race became synonymous with legendary car manufacturers and their iconic models. Manufacturers such as Bentley, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Ferrari, Ford, Porsche, Audi and Toyota have all competed and achieved success at Le Mans, creating legendary moments and intense rivalries.
The races have also been the backdrop to many Hollywood movies such as Le Mans and the more recent Ford v Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale for the legendary threesome Ford win in 1966: the notable race where Ken Miles crossed the line with Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren, only to be robbed of the win due to a technicality.
This year sees Ferrari return to Le Mans after a 50-year absence in the main LMP1/Hypercar class which it has not claimed victory in the historic endurance race since 1965 – not to mention Peugeot and Cadillac making their first appearance in the premier class.
LeBron James gets the 91st 24 Hours of Le Mans off to a flying start
Basketball superstar LeBron James has been chosen as the official starter for the centenary celebration of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as announced by the organisers of this iconic endurance event last Monday.
As a leading career scorer in the NBA and a four-time champion, the Los Angeles Lakers forward today added his name to the prestigious list of celebrity starters who have performed this ceremonial role throughout the race’s history. Past luminaries in this position include Hollywood actor Brad Pitt, who took on the role in 2016, and the legendary Steve McQueen, who lowered the French flag to kick off the race in 1971, coinciding with his appearance in the film “Le Mans.”
Eagle-eyed DMARGE readers spotted the NBA Lakers player waving the official flag to start the race wearing his Tiffany Patek Philippe 5711. This normally wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow – however, as you can see from the photos, the official timing partner of the race is Rolex.
Rolex spends millions every year to sponsor motor racing events and could very well have been the people to approve James being the official starter of the 91st race. Considering James’ extensive collection of Rolex watches, you would have presumed his people would have helped him choose a watch to match such an occasion.
LeBron wasn’t the only celebrity in attendance at this year’s race, with F1 racer Charles LeClerc spotted taking photos with fans wearing his usual Richard Mille.
As the race enters the final 8 hours, Ferrari is out in front followed by Toyota and Cadillac. Could Ferrari finally break their 50-year drought? Let’s wait and see.