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Marcel Martin: 1931-2018

Le Mans class winner and Race Director for 2 decades

Marcel Martin, Le Mans racer, marshal, and latterly Race Director for two decades has passed away at 88 years old (pictured above with photographer Peter Brock).

Martin raced at Le Mans twice, in 1967 and 1968 in a Abarth 1300 (pictured below) and a Fiat Dino respectively, taking a class win on his first attempt.

Those racing efforts followed on from a growing passion for the sport and Le Mans in particular. He founded the “Ecurie du Maine” and raced in rallies and hill climbs as well as being a pit marshal at the 24 Hours.

He became assistant race director and succeeded Charles Deutsch when the latter passed away in 1980.

His stint in the chair was marked by innovations including the first use of use of safety cars ,also working with Jean-Pierre Moreau, the ACO Sport Manager at the time, on track surveillance by installing cameras on the Bugatti circuit, the first ever to be so equipped.

Equally respected by entrants and marshals, the FIA also asked him to inspect circuits all over the world. Martin was a hands-on man of principle and he left his mark on Le Mans, the ACO and the world of motor sport.

“Long live the Le Mans 24 Hours and may the race be as successful and make as much of an impact all over the world as it has since its creation thanks to the exceptional aura that it enjoys,” is what Marcel Martin said in June 2000 when he decided to leave his role as race director. “After twenty years of doing this job I’ve decided to bow out so that the 21st century will kick off with a new man at the helm of this prestigious event. May he feel as much joy as I do when lowering the chequered flag in front of the winner, a joy that is always more intense when he comes from our country.” Daniel Poissenot took over the reins from Marcel Martin becoming the fifth Le Mans 24 Hours race director.

Pierre Fillon, ACO president: “Marcel Martin was a benchmark, a pillar of the ACO and also of our sport. We are all deeply saddened by his death. He has left us a heritage, a certain idea of motor racing that we’ll devote ourselves to respecting. I would like to send my warmest and heartfelt thoughts to his family and his nearest and dearest.”

Lead pic and pitlane pic courtesy and copyright John Brooks
Abarth 1967 pic courtesy Racingsportscars.com
Race finish pic courtesy and copyright ACO