A legendary venue in the south of the Paris region, the UTAC Linas-Montlhéry racing circuit is today acknowledged as one of the most famous places in French motor racing history. Hardly surprising, either: over the years, the track and its ring have seen generations of people living out their automotive passion, and dozens of records broken. For the hundredth anniversary of the Autodrome, the 2024 edition of Rétromobile will play host to a special exhibition looking back on the history of this magical venue.

UTAC Linas-Montlhéry Autodrome: the record-breaking track celebrates its centenary at Rétromobile!

Following on from the announcement of the exhibition dedicated to the centenary of the MG brand, another big name in automotive history has invited itself to the party at Rétromobile to celebrate its centenary: the UTAC Linas-Montlhéry Autodrome! In partnership with UTAC (the current owner of the track) and the society Vintage Revival Montlhéry, the most exciting pop-up museum for collector vehicles will play host to a first-time exhibition dedicated to the hundredth anniversary of this temple of automotive passion. An opportunity for enthusiasts visiting Rétromobile to discover around 20 legendary vehicles that have left their mark on the history, and the tarmac, of the sporting venue. Whether pre-war vehicles (1925 Bugatti Type 36/35A Grand-Prix, 1928 AMILCAR MCO Grand-Prix, 1934 Jonghi Record 350) or more recent models (Peugeot 404, McLaren F1 GTR, Matra MS650 or the singular Isetta Velam specifically fitted out for the circuit), all will be turning out for the annual mecca for collector vehicles.

UTAC Linas-Montlhéry autodrome: a witness to the history of the French automobile

In the aftermath of the First World War, one question remained on the lips of every car enthusiast: how could France, creator of the motor car and organiser of so many motoring events, still not have a test track worthy of the name? In response to this question, Alexandre Lamblin, an industrialist with a passion for motor sports, began building a speedway a few kilometres from the capital in 1924. It took just six months to build the ring, which rested on a framework that required almost 1,000 tonnes of steel and had one astonishing characteristic: in places, its banking was too steep to stand upright on. The speed ring was soon supplemented by a 12-kilometre road circuit through the surrounding forest, which would subsequently become a favourite with French manufacturers and drivers.

After the Second World War, the autodrome, which had in the meantime been bought by the French state, was handed over to the Union Technique de l'Automobile, du Motocycle et du Cycle (UTAC). From its reopening in 1947, the venue was a favourite with professionals looking to establish new records, so much so that in 1955 it accounted for 74% of world records. While the UTAC Linas-Montlhéry Autodrome gained notoriety and hosted a growing number of international races, it also became infamous for the many fatal accidents that occurred on the circuit. Louis Rosier, Peter Lindner, Franco Patria and Jean Rolland were just some of the famous drivers to lose their lives on the track.

Although the circuit has not hosted racing events since 2004, retirement does not appear to be on the agenda. Every year, the circuit welcomes numerous manufacturers who come to test their vehicles, and many events dedicated to classic cars are organised there.