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May 23, 2022

Jim France to be awarded the 2022 Spirit of Le Mans trophy

Sam Greenwood | Getty Images
Sam Greenwood
Getty Images

In recognition for his longtime impact in motorsports and specifically for his work in securing a historic convergence agreement between the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), NASCAR and IMSA Chairman Jim France will receive the prestigious Spirit of Le Mans Award for 2022. France will be presented with the trophy on the eve of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans during the official President’s Dinner on Friday, June 10.

“The Spirit of Le Mans trophy salutes the men and women who uphold the values of enduring racing by their commitment, team spirit and competitive drive,” the ACO said in announcing the news.

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The agreement France helped develop and sustain allows competitors to run the same prototype sports cars in both the top championship sanctioned classes of IMSA and the ACO. Last year, the two leadership groups renewed that strategic alliance first formed in 2013 and also includes a unique and important naming “swap.”

The first chicane at Le Mans’ Mulsanne Straight is now called the “Daytona Chicane” and the chicane at Daytona International Speedway – once referred to as “The Bus Stop” – is now called the “Le Mans Chicane.”

“I take tremendous pride in the relationship we have built with the ACO over the past decade,” France said. “IMSA and the ACO are the caretakers of endurance sports car racing all over the world and together we have developed a platform for an incredibly bright future.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to be selected by close friend (ACO President) Pierre Fillon and the ACO Board of Directors to receive the prestigious ‘Spirit of Le Mans’ Trophy this year. Joining the list of so many respected previous recipients is something that I and my family will forever cherish.”

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France will be honored alongside two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans race winner Gerard Larrousse, who will serve as Grand Marshal of the June race, and Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of the TotalEnergies, the company that is supplying the 100 percent renewable fuel to the 62-car Le Mans field. Pouyanne will serve as the race’s official starter and wave the French flag to start the 24-hour race on Saturday, June 11. France previously served as the official starter at Le Mans in 2013.

“The three men embody the sense of innovation, of history, the winning attitude and team spirit that characterize the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Fillon, President of the ACO.

Earlier this year, NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports announced a cooperative venture that would bring a modified Next Gen stock car to the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the race’s centennial celebration in 2023.

The project – which also includes collaborative efforts from IMSA, Chevrolet and Goodyear – would bring a specially prepared Camaro ZL1 from the NASCAR Cup Series into the international motorsports scene’s biggest endurance race. Once approved by race organizer l’Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the proposed entry would fill the Garage 56 slot – an extra starting berth that showcases innovative vehicles outside of the race’s traditional classes.