The race is organized by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and runs on the Circuit de la Sarthe, which contains a mix of closed public roads and a specialist racing circuit, in which racing teams have to balance speed with the cars' ability to race for 24 hours without sustaining mechanical damage.
Since 2012, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. In 2017, it will be the third round of the season.
The race is held in June, leading at times to very hot conditions for drivers, particularly in closed vehicles with poor ventilation; rain is commonly seen. The race begins in mid-afternoon and finishes the following day at the same hour the race started the previous day. Over the 24 hours, modern competitors often cover distances well over 5,000 km (3,110 mi).
The record is 2010's 5,410 km (3,360 mi), six times the length of the Indianapolis 500, or approximately 18 times longer than a Formula One Grand Prix. Drivers and racing teams strive for speed and avoiding mechanical damage, as well as managing the cars' consumables, primarily fuel, tires, and braking materials. It also tests endurance, with drivers frequently racing for over two hours before a relief driver can take over during a pit stop while they eat and rest. Current regulations mandate that three drivers share each competing vehicle.