Practice for the 78th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place this week. 200-mph racing cars set loose in the French countryside? Ford GT? Aw heck, mes amis, you had us at bonjour.

The #61 Matech Competition Ford GT, driven by the all female team of Natacha Gachgang, Rahal Frey and Cynde Alleman of Switzerland. Old shape, old colors, old track, still excellent.



Photo Credit: Darrel Ingham/Getty Images

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Thomas Erdos of England drives the # 25 RML Lola leading Franck Montagny of France driving the # 2 Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908. Public roads, people. Le Mans is the name of a town; a good chunk of the race's competition surface, including the hallowed, 200-plus-mph Mulsanne Straight, is composed of closed-off public highways. (Note the backwards traffic arrows in this shot.) Nuts.



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Nigel Mansell, former Formula 1 champion and driver of the # 5 Beechdean Mansell Ginetta Zytek prototype, chats in the pits. Those eyes speak volumes.



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David Brabham of Australia jumps from the #26 Highcroft Racing HPD ARX1 during pitstop practice.



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Track workers line up and wave the green flag to the course car before practice to indicate the track is ready to go hot.



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GAH! SO MANY COLORS! (Andy Priaulx of Great Britain drives the #79 BMW Motorsport BMW M3 painted by artist Jeff Koons.)



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Benoit Treluyer of France drives the #8 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15.



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The #4 Team Oreca Matmut Peugeot 908 driven by Olivier Panis, Nicolas Lapierre and Loic Duval.



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Legendary BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen sitting in the pits during practice. Mustaches, determination, big headsets: German racing in a nutshell.



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Allan McNish of Britain drives the #7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15 under the track's iconic Dunlop pedestrian bridge.



Photo Credit: Darrel Ingham/Getty Images