A compilation of some videos and details about the 1956 and two other 24 Hours of Le Mans races.
08 May 2023 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News
This is completely random. I ran across the On Board with Mike Hawthorn at Le Mans 1956 video and then set out to find out what other information might exist.
he 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans was a race for Sports Cars which took place on 28 and 29 July 1956 on the Circuit de la Sarthe. The race was won by Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson driving a Jaguar D-Type for the new Ecurie Ecosse team. Wikipedia
Watch 1958 Formula 1 World Champion, Mike Hawthorn, with a film camera strapped to the back of his D-Type Jaguar and a microphone fitted, commentate his way around the famous Le Mans circuit in 1956 – the result is a rare and revealing treat! Hawthorn delivers his verdict on the track, and on the driving standards of our Gallic cousins!
1956 24 Hours of Le Mans (Wikipedia)
The 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans was a race for Sports Cars which took place on 28 and 29 July 1956 on the Circuit de la Sarthe. The race was won by Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson driving a Jaguar D-Type for the new Ecurie Ecosse team. This race also marked the golden jubilee of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) founded in 1906, however because of the previous year’s disaster, celebrations were deferred to 1957 to go along with the imminent 25th anniversary of the race.
Following the events of 1955, the front stretch and pit lane were redesigned in order to enhance driver and spectator safety. This involved a change to the layout of the Dunlop curve, shortening the overall length of the track by 31 meters.
This race saw the death of French driver Louis Héry when his Monopole was involved in an accident early in the race.
The official enquiry into the 1955 Le Mans disaster found severe deficiencies in the track layout along the main straight and for quite some time there were serious concerns for the future of the race. However, the ACO took all the recommendations on board and was able to convince the French government for continuation. The extensive renovations cost FF300 million, moving 70000 cubic metres of earth and meant the race was delayed 7 weeks to the end of July.
The allure of the race was as great as ever and huge crowds returned, keen to restore the traditional festive atmosphere. An immaculately observed minute’s silence was held before the start of the race for the previous year’s victims and a simple commemorative plaque unveiled.
A clip about a prior race, said to have been one of the first handful of races following the war.
The 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans began on 11 June 1955, with Pierre Levegh behind the wheel of the #20 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR run by Daimler-Benz. American John Fitch was Levegh’s assigned partner in the car, and he would take over driving duties later. Competition between Mercedes, Jaguar, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Maserati was close, with all the marques fighting for the top positions early on. The race was extremely fast, with lap records being repeatedly broken.
At the end of Lap 35, Levegh was following Mike Hawthorn’s leading Jaguar D-type, just as they were entering the pit straight. Hawthorn had just passed Lance Macklin’s slower Austin-Healey 100 when he belatedly noticed a pit signal to stop for fuel. Hawthorn slowed suddenly in an effort to stop rather than make another lap. Hawthorn’s Jaguar, with the new disc brakes, slowed much more quickly than other cars using drum brakes, such as Levegh’s Mercedes. The sudden, unexpected braking by Hawthorn caused Macklin in the Healey to hit his brakes, throwing up a small cloud of dust in front of Levegh, who trailed close behind. Macklin then swerved across the centre of the track, attempting to re-pass the slowing Jaguar, but also apparently out of control. Macklin had not noticed both Levegh and Juan Manuel Fangio, in another 300 SLR, approaching rapidly from behind. Fangio was in second place at the time, but directly behind, and attempting to lap Levegh.
Levegh, ahead of Fangio on the track, did not have time to react. Levegh’s car made contact with the left rear of Macklin’s car as he closed rapidly (at about 150 mph) upon the slowed car. When Levegh hit the Austin-Healey from behind, his car became airborne, soaring towards the left side of the track, where it landed atop the earthen embankment separating spectators from the track itself.