In the classic racing movie, Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen, the title character (played by McQueen) is asked why he races. His response, quoted verbatim by racing aficionados everywhere, is that a "lot of people go through life doing things badly. Racing's important to men who do it well. When you're racing, it's life. Anything that happens before or after... is just waiting.”

And when the waiting is for the most important race of the year for a given motorsport, the anticipation, intrigue and pageantry can reach a fevered pitch. The victors know that they will walk the hallowed halls with the most revered names in motorsports. And because racing can be a life-or-death endeavor, its heroes take on mythical proportions for those who follow it.

And so it is that on eve of the 90th anniversary running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, we bring you the Top 10 most prestigious motor races in the world.

What makes them the best of the best? Well, many different things: the level of challenge and difficulty, the skill and technology required to master it, the history, the venue itself. But fundamentally, they are the ones that the racers themselves want most to win.

Ask any racer which race they most desire to win, and there is rarely hesitation. These races bring accolades and often fame to their victors, but more importantly, they are the highest accomplishment that the racer can achieve in their sport. And they and their rivals will fight tooth and nail to scale that podium. These races have been won by some of the most accomplished racers in their respective sports and by unheralded racers who indelibly etched their names in the history books simply by winning one.

You could call them, as many do, the “Super Bowl” of their respective disciplines, but to do so can diminish their grandeur and history to those for whom “racing is life.”

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