In 1991, the Saint Nicolas district in Le Mans paid tribute to the winners of the 24 Hours race by hosting a Hollywood-style “Walk of Fame” on a pedestrian street. This is how a monument dedicated to Jacky Ickx, along with Derek Bell and Henry Pescarolo, was created. Jacky Ickx is a Belgian champion who won the race six times, with three victories being consecutive. A set of bronze plaques adorning the city’s sidewalks immortalize the hand molds, and in some cases, footprints, of the race-winning drivers.
The bronze plaques feature the year, the names of the winners, their impressions, and a facsimile of their respective signatures. Interestingly, among the plaques of the winning drivers, there is also a plaque honoring a beloved virtual driver of Macau fans. This is the plaque of Michel Vaillant, a comic book character created by the genius Jean Graton, who also wrote a book titled “Rendez-vous à Macao”. The hands on that plaque belong to its creator. It’s worth mentioning that in 2018, Jean Graton’s son, Philippe Graton, also visited the city during that year’s Macau Grand Prix to launch a second book set in Macau, featuring the figures of André Couto and Sacha Fénestraz. Philippe even attended the following year’s Festival Rota das Letras, where he presented a photography exhibition.
The plaques were temporarily removed in 2019 due to urban renovations but have returned to the streets of Le Mans this year to properly celebrate the Centenary. They have been reinstalled along a path that connects the north exit of the Gare de Le Mans to Bollée Square, along General Leclerc Avenue.
More than just a tourist landmark, these plaques are a way to connect the city to the races and the drivers who have made it famous. They serve as a token of gratitude for a hundred years of recent history in this beautiful ancient city. SAC