Chapter Editor:Delboy will do the 2015 update
“Is It Worth It??” - This question is often asked on Club Arnage regarding the membership of the A.C.O. This section provides details of the benefits of membership.
There are three levels of membership: Passion 24, Passion 24 VIP and Passion 24 Gold.
Also offered is a breakdown option (cost €25) similar to those offered by the RAC and other motoring organisations, but these are not really relevant to non-French residents. Most people will have arranged their own breakdown insurance which includes repatriation of the broken vehicle to their country of origin.
Other special benefits are offered, at a cost of €24, for those travelling to the circuit in a car at least 30 years old, or for 'exceptional' cars as judged by the ACO.
Some of the items from the 'Passion Collection' can be collected at any time during race week, from the ACO. All other items are sent by post 3 months or so after the race.
There are other (mainly irrelevant) benefits, eg 3 free 20-minute sessions on the Bugatti circuit, but only for ACO licensed drivers, and obviously outside race week.
For 2015, the cost of the two main membership classes (VIP & Gold) have risen slightly, but so has the cost differential between the club/non club price for general entry tickets.
All the benefits of Passion 24 membership, plus:
All the benefits of Passion 24 VIP membership plus:
Basically, members are allowed exclusive use of an on-line booking system for a period of time before it is made available to the public. The ACO's first attempt for the 2011 race turned out to be a disaster, as the system was full of bugs and the tickets on offer were very limited. Attempts to contact the sales office for clarification/booking were also unfruitful as they were inundated with calls about the malfunction of the online system.
The next three years showed only minor improvements in terms of the system problems, and the range of camping tickets remained severely limited. One minor improvement in 2014 allowed purchasers to select the actual seat numbers in the grandstand - this worked OK.
Alas, for the 2015 race, the system still has many problems - some members reporting that they were even unable to log on to the system, and having to resort to emailing their order. There is a 'special' email address for members to contact the ticket office - firstname.lastname@example.org - but it is not known if this actually does give any priority.
Remember that the agencies get priority over ANY individual punter, including ACO members, and it would appear that more and more agencies are getting more and more tickets. The 'priority' booking system is therefore actually of limited benefit.
The costs of the various classes of membership are given above.
From the writer’s perspective – it is worth it from a financial point of view for the Passion 24 VIP package. For this year (2015), the savings on 6 general entry tickets (€112.50) more than covered the cost of membership. The 4 or 5 euros saving on each of two camping tickets gave a bit more incentive. Remember, all the non-financial benefits are also available.
A race-goer may feel that these other benefits make membership worthwhile, even if full use of the ticket discount is not taken. I make no recommendations, just stating the facts. It’s your choice!