Jackie Chan, Patrick Dempsey and Keanu Reeves were also in attendance at the world's oldest active sports car race in France

By Dave Quinn
June 18, 2016 01:25 PM
Ker Robertson/Getty

Brad Pitt waved the start flag Saturday for the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans – the world’s oldest active sports car event in endurance racing.

Held annually since 1923 in France, the prestigious automobile race began behind a Safety Car, as heavy rain fell as the cars were lining up on the grid. To acclimate themselves to the falling water, drivers were allowed to take a few laps around the 8.5-mile woodland track before Pitt threw the green flag.

Rain has been a problem in the week leading up to Saturday’s running. Thursday’s qualifying 3 was interrupted mid-race due to the adverse driving conditions.

Despite the weather, the stars shined on the event, which is often called the “Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency.”

Brad Pitt prepares to wave the flag of the race

Devoted racer Patrick Dempsey was there, serving as the prestigious race’s 2016 Ambassador.

Last year, Dempsey’s team had a strong second-place finish in the race, giving the event an unanticipated burst of star-power.

Brad Pitt (right) takes a tour of the circuit

Pitt and Dempsey weren’t the only celebs in attendance. Chinese action hero Jackie Chan joined them, after rolling in on Friday. Chan, whose own onscreen racing credentials go as far back as 1984’s Cannonball Run 2, is part owner of the BAXI DC Racing team.

Keanu Reeves was also in on the action, flying into Paris on Wednesday from Switzerland. Reeves, who was invited by French tire giant Michelin, used the track this weekend to introduce his Arch Motorcycle brand to French riders. British action star Jason Statham was also at the event.

Jackie Chan and Brad Pitt, alongside ACO President Pierre Fillon (left) and Chan, FIA Endurance Commission and FIA President Jean Todt (center)

The celebrity appeal of the 110-year-old elite auto race is reminiscent of its ’70s glory days, when Steve McQueen and Paul Newman drove its challenging day-into-night-into-day course.

Brad Pitt (center) waits in the rain prior to the race

There was one other star at the track – the Bugatti Chiron. The world’s most luxurious, most expensive production car made an honorary tour of the classic. The cost of that ultra luxury vehicle? Slightly above $2.5 million. Careful where you park!