Self-made motorsports entrepreneur and innovator Jacques Nicolet, the founder and principal of Onroak Automotive, was awarded the ACO’s Spirit of Le Mans Trophy during the its annual press conference at Circuit de la Sarthe on Thursday.
Nicolet, both gracious and at times humbled in receiving the prestigious award, has emerged as one of the premier business leaders in the international motorsports industry in the last decade.
Already well established in real estate and other business sectors, Nicolet first entered motorsports in 2003 with a vintage and historic race car restoration service.
His business acumen and enthusiasm for the sport led him to modern motorsports and, a year after acquiring Saulnier Racing, Nicolet entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time in 2007.
He soon collaborated with Henri Pescarolo in the creation of the Pescarolo LMP2, and Saulnier was renamed OAK Racing, which soon became well known for its eye-catching black and pink liveries.
Nicolet’s ambitions next led him to race car construction and, after acquiring HP Composites and adding a constructor department, the foundation for Onroak Automotive was created.
Onroak’s first race car, the Morgan LMP2, was a race and championship winning design.
Building on his Nicolet’s longtime association with Guy Ligier, Onroak introduced the Ligier JS P2, which became an immediate force on the worldwide sports car racing arena.
Recent achievements for the Ligier JS P2 include the FIA World Endurance Championship title with G-Drive Racing in 2015, and victories earlier this year in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring with Tequila Patron ESM.
Nine Ligier JS P2s are entered in this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Today, Nicolet is now at the head of more than 400 people working in his motorsports operations.
Onroak Automotive builds prototype sports cars for nearly all of the major categories in global sports car racing, including the Ligier JS P2, JS P3, JS 53 EVO 2 and Morgan LMP2.
“We are in a domain where economic performance alone isn’t enough. The results are subjected to sporting accomplishments which explains why so few companies take the risk,” Nicolet said.
“This is the reason I’m very proud to be awarded the Spirit of Le Mans Trophy.”
Also an accomplished driver, Nicolet will be driving one of his own Ligier JS P3 cars in Saturday’s Road to Le Mans race, alongside his son, Pierre.
He has eight career LMP1 and LMP2 starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a best finish of third in class a Pescarolo P2 car.