Since 1906, the year in which it was founded, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest has pursued two missions: First, participating in the battle against the dangers inherent in road usage through training, driving schools and high-performance driving plus a particularly strong involvement in associations, and second, the organization and promotion of motorsport in general and endurance racing in particular.
The ACO invented the first grand prix in the history of motor racing in 1906. The Le Mans-based club in the Sarthe (France) then founded the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1923 with the aim of building up a popular international top-level sporting race, as well as creating a laboratory to develop technology and safety for the major car manufacturers throughout the world.
Over the past 90 years this iconic endurance event has enjoyed immense success. In 2012 National Geographic magazine awarded the Le Mans 24 Hours the title of the not-to-be-missed event, which any sporting enthusiast should attend at least once in his lifetime, ahead of the Olympic Games, the Super Bowl and the Masters.
In order to promote the influence of endurance racing throughout the world, as well as the values of the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest created three continental endurance series: the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in 1999 with its partner Don Panoz, the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) in 2004 and the Asian Le Mans Series (Asian LMS) in 2013.
In 2010, the ACO launched the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC), the first step toward a world endurance championship. This was introduced in 2012 as a result of the agreement signed with the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) in the form of the current FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), of which the ACO is the promoter and organizer.
The ACO is a major partner in endurance racing in North America through the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which will help endurance events to achieve a unprecedented influence on the continent, while perpetuating the values of the Le Mans 24 Hours.