The Bol d’Or 24 Hour Endurance Race
MotoGP, Superbike, Motocross, Supercross, most motorcyclists probably have seen it on TV, internet, or have read about it in a magazine.
Endurance Racing is akin to the red-headed step-child of motorcycling events. One could argue that endurance racing should be at the top of the heap considering what’s involved. Teams racing on a circuit for 8 to 24 hours. Pilots have to be at the top of their game, the bikes have to perform as do the pit crews….for 8 to 24 hours.
In today’s age of channel surfing, & short attention spans, Endurance Racing doesn’t get the attention, and maybe as a result have the same draw as MotoGP. Maybe the powers that be haven’t figured out how to sell it, or maybe there’s little room for it in a crowded space? Whatever the case, the racing is every bit as spectacular as anything else on 2 wheels…even more so at night! Yes, they race at night.
One event that we have the pleasure of attending in the Bol d’Or. A 24 hour endurance race held in Southern France in September. The Bol d’Or has established a reputation on the European continent as a must-attend event for motorcycle race enthusiasts. Dating back to 1922 the Bol d’Or is one of a handful of endurance races. (others can be seen in Le Mans, Suzuka, or Oschersleben) Every year thousands of riders make the journey from the U.K., Spain, Benelux and beyond for a weekend of racing and entertainment.
The Bol d’Or has a storied past. Much of the folklore is due to the ‘enthusiastic’ fans performing impromptu stunt shows in the campgrounds surrounding the track. Burnouts, wheelies, blown motors, and other antics contributed to building the race into a legend.
The race takes place at the Circuit Paul Ricard in the Var, near the Mediterranean coast. The track has played host to Formula One, Le Mans and sports car race events.
What we like about the Bol d’Or?
Non-stop racing. The race actually begins with a ‘Le Mans’ style start. Similar to the start of the auto race of the same name, the pilots start on foot. They have to run across the track, hop on their bike, get it started and take off. It’s quite cool to see that the tradition has been maintained.
Then it’s off to the races for 24 hours. That’s like seeing 10+ MotoGP races, all in one day. Speaking of seeing, there are plenty of vantage points to explore. A reasonably priced ticket allows you to roam around the circuit. In 24 hours you can check out a variety of viewing points. Very cool.
We also like the entertainment. Plenty of live music & stuff to see.
Stuff like merchants, builders, big & small. All the big brands are there, BMW, Ducati, Triumph, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Aprilia. Plus plenty of builders and parts suppliers too. If you need to stretch your legs you can get lost among the various merchants.
If you’re planning on attending the Bol d’Or, you can camp on-site. Lots of riders choose to camp for the camaraderie and to see the sideshow antics. There are a variety of reasonably priced options a little further away. If you value a good night’s sleep, opt for staying more than 15km away. Even at 15km you might be able to hear the bikes in the middle of the night.
Security: The Gendarmes are out in force during the Bol d’Or. They’ll be more than happy to pull you over for any monkey business. Be prepared, make sure you have your papers, up to date insurance, yellow safety vest (it doesn’t need to be worn. stowing it under the seat or in a bag is fine.) Also make sure your tires, lamps are up to snuff. They may inspect your bike and write you up for any other infractions. Lastly, drink responsibly if you choose to drink. Chances are you will be tested if you get stopped.
Bike parking is secured. You will need to show your bike registration to exit the premises. There’s also a concierge on premises for secure helmet storage.
We’re not fans of the highway, but sometimes it can be handy. During the Bol d’Or weekend most of the highways in proximity of the track are free to motorcyclists. There are also a number of motorcycle friendly rest-stops along the line. (you can search for “les relais calmos bol d’or” to find out their location)
If you’re a race fan or just an average bike enthusiast, the Bol d’Or is a rare opportunity to not only see great race action, but soak up some great ambience, and see a variety of bikes from all over. We like meeting their owners, swapping stories over the din of motorcycle race engines. It only comes once a year, but you will love that one day as much as we and the tens of thousands who attend.
One of the best things about the Bol d’Or is it means getting on the bikes and making a tour out of it. Plenty of excellent riding in Southern France, so much so that it’s easy to sneak away from the racing and twist the throttle for a while. We’ll cover that more in detail in another post.
If you want to learn more about our Bol d’Or Southern France motorcycle tours, click here.
Bol d’Or Race Action