CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa launches new Hall of Fame following successful centenary parade

CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa launches new Hall of Fame following successful centenary parade
  • More than 15,000 people line the roads and pack the city centre for centenary CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa parade
  • SRO Motorsports Group introduces new Hall of Fame during drivers’ briefing
  • Five notable inductees honoured for their contribution to the Belgian endurance classic

The CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa has been growing in popularity for several years. The centenary celebrations have certainly played a part, but the landmark is not the only reason that enthusiasm is so great for the Belgian endurance classic, which runs from 26–30 June.

Despite competition from the Belgian national football team – who played their final Euro 2024 group game this evening – the traditional parade to Spa city centre was once again an enormous success. An incredible convoy of more than 200 race cars and supercars travelled some 14km, taking in the old Spa-Francorchamps circuit, before arriving in the historic spa town.

Along the route and in the city centre, thousands of fans were able to get up close to the cars that will compete in the 24 Hours, in the support races, and in the special historic events. The drivers were present too, delighting the crowds by posing for selfies and signing autographs. Shortly before 8pm, they gathered inside the theatre within the Spa casino to attend the drivers’ briefing.

Hall of Fame welcomes first inductees

The centenary CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa offers a superb opportunity to celebrate the rich history of the Belgian endurance classic. As such, there are numerous references to the past century for fans to enjoy. Located on the roof of the Pit Building, the Gallery of Time is a very special temporary exhibition. There are also some legendary cars on display in the Red Paddock, while the historic races for touring cars and GTs will recapture the glories of yesteryear.

During the drivers’ briefing, SRO Motorsports Group officially launched the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa Hall of Fame. The initial five inductees encompassed both people and institutions who have written the history of the legendary race. They were welcomed on to the stage by Stéphane Ratel, the founder and CEO of event promoter SRO Motorsports Group, who presented each with a Lifetime Pass to the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa.

Best known as the Belgian motorsport federation, the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium (RACB) is credited with creating the race in 1924. Established in 1896, it is also the owner of the event and continues to play a crucial role thanks to the sporting and technical support it provides to SRO Motorsports Group and its championships.

Next, a man without whom we would probably not be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. After the event disappeared from the calendar following the 1953 edition, the driver-journalist Paul Frère played a key role in reviving the race in 1964. Having participated in the 24 Hours on three occasions – in 1948, 1949 and 1953 – he convinced the RACB, with the assistance of Chevalier Hubert de Harlez, to relaunch Spa as a touring car event. That was 60 years ago, and the 24 Hours has run annually since, ultimately becoming the biggest GT race in the world.

In 75 editions, one driver has secured more victories than any other. A five-time winner, Éric van de Poele triumphed twice in touring cars (with BMW in 1987 and 1998) and three times during the GT era (driving a Maserati in 2005, 2006 and 2008). Nicknamed ‘Tintin’, he started his beloved race 25 times and is undoubtedly among its greatest starts. His place in the Hall of Fame is beyond question.

Last year’s victory was the 25th for BMW, exactly one third of all editions in CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa history. During the past century, more than 560 BMWs have taken part in the Belgian endurance classic, representing 29 different models. From the 75 editions staged to date, no fewer than 60 included at least one BMW among the starters. Andreas Roos, the current boss of BMW M Motorsport, took to the stage to collect the Lifetime Pass on behalf of the Bavarian brand.

Finally, SRO Motorsports Group paid tribute to a family with a particularly strong link to the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. Three members of the Martin clan were applauded as they took the stage to receive the Lifetime Pass. Jean-Michel Martin and his younger brother Philippe won together aboard a Ford Capri in 1979 and 1980. During his 27 participations, Jean-Michel added two more successes, winning in 1987 and 1992 with a BMW M3. Having first contested the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa in 2006, his son Maxime has become a mainstay of the event. On Saturday he will contest his 18th edition, partnering Raffaele Marciello and Valentino Rossi as he looks to add to the success he earned in 2016. Though it has officially entered the Hall of Fame, the Martin family is by no means finished with the CrowdStrike 24 hours of Spa.