1950 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1950 24 Hours of Le Mans was a motor race for sports cars, staged at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France on 24 and 25 June 1950. It was the 18th Grand Prix of Endurance. The race was won by the French father-and-son pairing of Louis and Jean-Louis Rosier driving a privately entered Talbot-Lago.

1950 24 Hours of Le Mans
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Index: Races | Winners
Le Mans in 1950

Regulations edit

The revival of motor-racing post-war was now in full swing – the FIA had published its new rules for single-seater racing and inaugurated the new World Championship of Drivers. Its Appendix C addressed two-seater sportscar racing, giving some definition for racing prototypes. The same categories (based on engine capacity) were kept, although the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) added an extra class at the top end – for over 5.0L up to 8.0L.

After last year’s issues with the hybrid ‘ternary’ fuel, the ACO now supplied 80-octane gasoline as standard, thereby removing the need. The track was widened except for the run from Mulsanne to Indianapolis, and the re-surfacing completed, thus promising to give faster times and be a quicker race.[1] Finally, the iconic Dunlop bridge was rebuilt – a footbridge over the circuit just after the first corner.[2]

Entries edit

A record 112 entries were received by the ACO, and they accepted 60 for the start – another record.[3][4] This year there were 24 entries in the S3000, S5000 and S8000 classes. The biggest car this year carrying the #1, was a MAP Diesel that was the first car to race at Le Mans with a mid-mounted engine (a supercharged 4.9L engine), with veteran racer and 1939 winner Pierre Veyron.

Cunningham's Cadillac Series 61 "Petit Pataud" passing under the Dunlop Bridge during the race.

The first Americans to race at Le Mans in 21 years arrived - Briggs Cunningham bought across two 5.4L Cadillacs, one a standard Series 61 sedan and the other with an ugly aerodynamic bodyshell refined in the Grumman Aircraft wind tunnel.[5] They were soon nicknamed ‘’Petit Petaud (Small puppy)’’ and ‘’Le Monstre’’ respectively by the French, but Briggs saw the joke and had the names written on the bonnets beside the American flags.[6] Both were fitted with pit-to-car radios.

But this year, the big news was the first appearance of Jaguar – with three new 3.4L XK120s. Factory-prepared, they were released to select private entrants to test the waters.[3][7] Other British entries included an Allard with the big 5.4L Cadillac engine, co-driven by Sydney Allard himself; the Bentley saloon from last year returned, along with a second, even older (1934), car to represent the marque. This year Aston Martin came with three 2.6L DB2 works entries (now being run by John Wyer[8]).

After their spectacular success last year, Ferrari arrived with three 166 MM cars, as well as a new model: a pair of 195 S cars, with a bigger 2.4L V12, entered by last year’s winner Luigi Chinetti. This year Chinetti drove with Dreyfus, and was able to convince the great French driver Raymond Sommer (with whom he had won in 1932) to postpone his retirement to drive his other car.[9]

The French defended their home turf with a pair of fast privately-entered Talbot-Lago T26 (based on the current Grand Prix car) and the urbane SS coupe. Too heavy to be competitive in the new World Championship, their speed and durability made them ideal for Le Mans.[7]Charles Pozzi returned with two Delahaye 175 S in his new Ecurie Lutetia team, the Delettrez brothers had their diesel special back, and two old Delage D6s returned (for the last time) including that of Henri Louveau who had staged such a spirited chase the year before. Also, with better preparation time, Amédée Gordini entered a big team of his new T15 cars, including two fitted with superchargers to take on the Ferraris. His regular Grand Prix drivers, Maurice Trintignant and Robert Manzon drove one and two new Argentinians Juan-Manuel Fangio and José Froilán González the other – all Le Mans debutants along with Jean Behra in a 1500 Gordini.

In the mid-size S2000 and S1500 classes, aside from the Ferraris and the two mid-size Gordinis, was an assortment of makes including Frazer-Nash, Jowett, Peugeot, Fiat and MG. If the French were under-represented in the big classes, they made up for it in the S1100 and S750 small-car categories, with 20 of the 25 entries, including works entries from Gordini, Monopole, Panhard, DB, Renault and Simca. The Aero-Minors from Czechoslovakia were back, and were joined by a Škoda in the S1100 class

Practice edit

In practice, Raymond Sommer showed that the new Ferraris were fastest, with a five-minute lap exactly – ahead of the Talbot-Lagos. Auguste Veuillet crashed and rolled his Delahaye, but after overnight repairs, it was ready for the race the next day, only for the car to refuse to start with a flat battery.

Race edit

Start edit

Lined up, as was Le Mans tradition, according to effective engine capacity, it was Tom Cole in the Allard who was the first to get going. Last to get away was Fangio’s Gordini with an engine misfire.[10] Sommer overtook a dozen cars to lead at the end of the first lap, ahead of Cole, Meyrat’s Talbot, Peter Whitehead in the new Jaguar and Trintignant in the supercharged Gordini.[11] On lap 2 Cunningham slid “Le Monstre” into the Mulsanne sandbank and had to spend 15 minutes digging it out[12] By the fifth lap, Rosier had his Talbot up to third and Chinetti had the other big Ferrari up to fifth.

It stayed pretty much like that for the first few hours with Sommer putting in some very fast laps, averaging just under 99 mph to extend his lead.[9][11] But then the pressure of that pace told and he lost a cylinder and had to pit with electrical problems from a dislodged alternator, dropping him to fifth. That let Rosier into the lead in the 3rd hour, and he then put in some blistering laps to break up the pursuing pack. As the sun set and in the cooler air he broke Sommer’s new lap record by almost ten secords with Le Mans’ first race lap averaging over 100 mph (160 km/h). At the end of four hours, it was Rosier, Chinetti, Sommer, Meyrat - Talbot, Ferrari, Ferrari, Talbot - then the Allard and the first Jaguar.

Night edit

The Ferrari 195 S of Sommer and Serafini, which led early on but retired due to electrical issues

Going into the night, Sommer/Serafini’s ongoing electrical problems continued to plague them, taking them out of the running then finally leading to retirement after midnight – with no lights! Further excitement in the night happened when the Pozzi Delahaye had an engine-fire while refuelling, right in front of the second-placed Mairesse Talbot in at the same time.[13] But once the flames were out, Flahault jumped in and drove out without even checking for damage[12]

Early on Sunday morning while running second, the Allard’s 3-speed gearbox lost its two lowest gears. It could not be repaired, so the mechanics jammed it into 3rd and sent it back out again, having dropped down to 8th. Around a similar time the differential on Chinetti’s Ferrari started playing up, after also running in the top 3 for first half of the race; they eventually retired mid-morning.

At the halfway point after 12 hours, it was the two Talbots of Rosier and Meyrat/Mairesse (six laps apart), then a lap back to the Johnson/Hadley Jaguar, the Rolt/Hamilton Nash-Healey and the struggling Allard.[12]

Morning edit

At 5am the leader came into the pits with a 7-lap lead, and Rosier personally replaced the rocker-shaft. His son then took the car out for just 2 laps while Louis cleaned up and ate some bananas. Then Rosier Sr got back in, resuming in 3rd, and drove on for the rest of the race.[14] With Rosier in the pits, the second Talbot took the lead and held it for three hours, with the Jaguar of Johnson/Hadley in second. But Rosier was a man on a mission and before 9am, he had overtaken both and was back in the lead. He had to pit later in the morning when he struck an owl, smashing the (tiny) windscreen and giving him a black eye.[15]

At 8am Jean Lucas, running sixth, crashed and rolled Lord Selsdon’s Ferrari, getting minor injuries and taking the last of the prancing horses out of the race. The Anglo-American Nash-Healey prototype of Rolt/Hamilton had been in the top-5 since halfway and was 3rd when it was punted off the track by Louveau’s Delage. The 45 minutes spent on repairs dropped it a position. Pozzi’s Delahaye had run as high was 5th through the night, but then the fire and subsequent overheating dropped it down. Late in the morning at a pit-stop, pent-up pressure blew off the radiator cap, which the officious stewards deemed an illegal breakage of the security seals and controversially disqualified him.

By midday the old order was restored: the two Talbots, now only a lap apart, three laps back to the Jaguar and a further lap to the Nash-Healey. Rosier eased off, conserving his car, but keeping a solid lead. Then the Jaguar of Johnson/Hadley had to retire with less than 3 hours to go when the clutch finally let go, after the drivers had had to use engine-breaking because of a lack of brakes. But it was Tim Cole who was lapping fastest of all in fourth, even though he still only had top gear, and caught Rolt (having to driver carefully with a dodgy rear axle and fading brakes) with 30 minutes to go.

Finish and post-race edit

The winning Talbot-Lago T26 GS
The third placed Allard J2, pictured in 2006

In the end, Louis Rosier cruised to the win, and with Guy Mairesse and Pierre Meyrat, gave one of Talbot-Lago’s greatest days – coming 1st & 2nd (in fact, all 3 cars finished - the sedan was 13th), and a record distance covered[16] All the first five finishers beat the 1939 distance record[16] It was also a great race for the British cars with 14 of 16 entered finishing, taking the 8.0L, 3.0L, 2.0L and 1.5L class wins. The Allard finished third, the Nash-Healey was fourth ahead of two of John Wyer’s Aston Martins that had run like clockwork. They were comfortably ahead of Louveau’s Delage in seventh, that had finished 2nd the year before but this year never had the pace, despite running trouble-free. The new Frazer-Nash (driven by ex-fighter pilot Dickie Stoop) took the S2000 class and the lightened works Jowett Javelin roadster easily won the S1500 class by 12 laps, driven by the coincidentally-named Wise and Wisdom.

By contrast all five Ferraris retired, as did all nine Simca-engined cars, including the six works Gordinis. Both the Bentleys finished – though Louis Rosier did a herculean job driving for all but 2 laps, Eddie Hall in the TT finished 8th and became the only driver to finish a Le Mans going solo the whole distance (just over 3200km).[2] Likewise both Cadillacs finished (10th & 11th – positions they had held virtually the whole race) even though ‘’Le Monstre’’, like the Allard, had been stuck in top gear for most of the race[6] The little Czech Aero repeated its win from 1949 in the smallest (S750) class, beating the French contingent it went up against.

The Abecassis/Macklin Aston Martin had taken the lead in the Index of Performance in the morning, but a strong drive in their little Monopole-Panhard #52 (611cc, 36bhp) by company owners Pierre Hérnard & Jean de Montrémy meant they exceeded their designated distance by exactly the same margin thereby sharing the Index victory.[14][16]

The Jaguar management were satisfied with the performance of their cars – two finished, and the other had run as high as second before retiring, but resolved to fix the brake problems that had troubled all three cars through the race

Tragically, the great French racer, Raymond Sommer would not get to enjoy his retirement – he was killed later in the year, at a Formula 2 race at Cadours. [17]

Official results edit

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
1 S
5   Louis Rosier
(private entrant)
  Louis Rosier
  Jean-Louis Rosier
Talbot-Lago T26 GS Biplace Talbot-Lago 4.5L S6 256
2 S
7   Pierre Meyrat
(private entrant)
  Pierre Meyrat
  Guy Mairesse
Talbot-Lago T26
Monoplace Decalee
Talbot-Lago 4.5L S6 255
3 S
4   S.H. Allard   Sydney Allard
  Tom Cole Jr.
Allard J2 Cadillac 5.4L V8 251
4 S
14   Healey Motors Ltd.   Tony Rolt
  Duncan Hamilton
Nash-Healey E Nash 3.8L S6 250
5 S
19   Aston Martin Ltd.   George Abecassis
  Lance Macklin
Aston Martin DB2 Aston Martin 2.6L S6 249
6 S
21   Aston Martin Ltd.   Reg Parnell
  Charles Brackenbury
Aston Martin DB2 Aston Martin 2.6L S6 244
7 S
18   Henri Louveau
(private entrant)
  Henri Louveau
  Jean Estager
Delage D6-3L Delage 3.0L S6 241
8 S
11   E.R. Hall
(private entrant)
  Eddie Hall
  Tom Clarke
Bentley Corniche TT Coupé Bentley 4.3L S6 236
9 S
30   H.J. Aldington
(private entrant)
  Richard "Dickie" Stoop
  T.A.S.O. "Donald" Mathieson
Frazer Nash Milla Miglia Bristol 2.0L S6 235
10 S
3   Briggs Cunningham
(private entrant)
  Miles Collier
  Sam Collier
Cadillac Coupe de Ville Cadillac 5.4L V8 233
11 S
2   Briggs Cunningham
(private entrant)
  Briggs Cunningham
  Phil Walters
Cadillac Spider Cadillac 5.4L V8 232
12 S
15   P.T.C. Clark
(private entrant)
  Peter Clark
  Nick Haines
Jaguar XK120S Jaguar 3.4L S6 230
13 S
6   André Chambas
(private entrant)
  André Chambas
  André Morel
Talbot-Lago Gran Sport Coupe Talbot-Lago 4.5L S6 228
14 S
12   H.S.F. Hay
(private entrant)
  Jack 'Zoltan' Hay
  Hugh Hunter
Bentley 4¼ Paulin Bentley 4.3L S6 225
15 S
16   P.C.D. Walker
(private entrant)
  Peter Whitehead
  John Marshall
Jaguar XK120S Jaguar 3.4L S6 225
16 S
36   Jowett Cars Ltd.   Tommy Wisdom
  Tommy Wise
Jowett Jupiter Javelin Jowett 1486cc Flat-4 220
17 S
22   R. Lawrie
(private entrant)
  Rob Lawrie
  Geoffrey Beetson
Riley RMC Riley 2.5L S4 213
18 S
39   G.E. Phillips
(private entrant)
  George Phillips
  Eric Winterbottom
MG TC Special MG 1244cc S4 208
19 S
23   N.H. Mann
(private entrant)
  Nigel Mann
  Mortimer Morris-Goodall
Healey Elliott Riley 2.4L S4 203
20 S
31   N.R. Culpan
(private entrant)
  Norman Culpan
  Lt. Cdr. Peter Wilson
Frazer Nash High Speed
Le Mans Replica
Bristol 2.0L S6 201
21 S
51   Rudý Letov Letnany   Maurice Gatsonides
  Henk Hoogeven
Aero Minor 750 Aero 744cc Flat-2
22 S
52   Établissements Monopole   Jean de Montrémy
  Jean Hémard
Monopole X84 Panhard 611cc Flat-2 180
23 S
58   Automobiles Deutsch et Bonnet   René Bonnet
  Élie Bayol
DB Sport Panhard 611cc Flat-2 175
24 S
46   J.L.V. Sandt
(private entrant)
  Jean Sandt
  Hervé Coatalen
Renault 4CV Renault 760cc S4 171
25 S
48   L. Pons
(private entrant)
  Jacques Lecat
  Louis Pons
Renault 4CV Renault 760cc S4 170
26 S
55   A. Lachaize
(private entrant)
  Auguste Lachaize
  Albert Debille
Panhard Dyna X84 Sport Panhard 611cc Flat-2 168
27 S
45   J.-E. Vernet
(private entrant)
  Just-Emile Vernet
  Roger Eckerlein
Renault 4CV Renault 760cc S4 158
28 S
56   R. Gaillard
(private entrant)
  Raymond Gaillard
  Pierre Chancel
Callista RAN D120 Panhard 611cc Flat-2 153
29 S
57   L. Eggen
(private entrant)
  Louis Eggen
Panhard Dyna X84 Panhard 611cc Flat-2 151

Did Not Finish edit

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps Reason
30 S
17   L. Johnson
(private entrant)
  Leslie Johnson
  Bert Hadley
Jaguar XK120S Jaguar 3.4L S6 220 Clutch
31 S
8   Ecurie Lutetia   Charles Pozzi
  Pierre Flahaut
Delahaye 175S Delahaye 4.5L S6 165 Disqualified
Water leak
32 S
28   Peter Mitchell-Thomson, Lord Selsdon
(private entrant)
  Peter Mitchell-Thomson, Lord Selsdon
  Jean Lucas
Ferrari 166 MM Berlinetta LM Ferrari 2.0L V12 164 Accident
33 S
43   Automobiles Gordini   Georges Blondel
  Raoul Martin
Gordini T15S Simca 1090cc S4 157 Engine
34 S
41   Mmes Rouault et Gordine
(private entrant)
  Germaine Rouault
  Reginé Gordine
Gordini T11 MM Simca 1090cc S4 143 Accident
35 S
49   J. Poch
(private entrant)
  Jacques Poch
  Edmond Mouche
Aero Minor Aero 744cc Flat-2
139 Wheel bearing
36 S
40   N.-J. Mahé
(private entrant)
  Norbert Jean Mahé
  Sacha Gordine
Simca Huit Simca 1090cc S4 126 Engine
37 S
24   Luigi Chinetti   Luigi Chinetti
  Pierre-Louis Dreyfus ("Heldé")
Ferrari 195 S Barchetta Ferrari 2.3L V12 121 Transmission
38 S
10   Etablissements
  Jean Delettrez
  Jacques Delettrez
Delettrez Diesel Delettrez 4.4L S6
120 Engine
39 S
44   A.Z.N.P.   Václav Bobek
  Jaroslav Netušil
Škoda 1101 Spyder Škoda 1089cc S4 120 Engine
40 S
54   G. Lapchin
(private entrant)
  Guy Lapchin
  Charles Plantivaux
Panhard Dyna X84 Sport Panhard 611cc Flat-2 115 Electrics
41 S
33   Automobiles Gordini   Juan Manuel Fangio
  José Froilán González
Gordini T15S Coupé Simca 1491cc
supercharged S4
95 Engine
42 S
47   Ets. Savin & Leroy
(private entrant)
  Fernand Leroy
  Marcel Joseph
Renault 4CV Renault 760cc S4 92 Accident
43 S
53   J. Savoye
(private entrant)
  Jacques Savoye
  Eugène Dussous
Monopole X84 Panhard 611cc Flat-2 89 Oil leak
44 S
50   Sté. Pierre Ferry
(private entrant)
  Pierre Ferry
  André-Georges Claude
Ferry Sport Renault 747cc S4 86 Engine
45 S
25   Luigi Chinetti   Raymond Sommer
  Dorino Serafini
Ferrari 195 S Berlinetta Ferrari 2.3L V12 82 Electrics
46 S
42   Automobiles Gordini   José Scaron
  Robert Pascal
Gordini T15S Simca 1090cc S4 77 Oil pump
47 S
37   J. Brault
(private entrant)
  Jean Brault
  Louis Paimpol
Fiat 1500 Spéciale Fiat 1.5L S4 75 Gearbox
48 S
35   Automobiles Gordini   Roger Loyer
  Jean Behra
Gordini T15S Simca 1491cc S4 50 Engine
49 S
64   Automobiles Deutsch et Bonnet   René Simone
  Michel Arnaud
DB 5 Citroën 1.9L S4 44 Engine
50 S
26   P.Rubirosa
(private entrant)
  Porfirio Rubirosa
  Pierre Leygonie
Ferrari 166 MM Ferrari 2.0L V12 44 Clutch
51 S
1   Manufactures
d'Armes de Paris
  Pierre Veyron
  Fernand Lacour
M.A.P. Diesel M.A.P. 5.0L supercharged
Flat-4 (Diesel)
39 Overheating
52 S
32   Automobiles Gordini   Maurice Trintignant
  Robert Manzon
Gordini T15S Coupé Simca 1491cc
supercharged S4
34 Water radiator
53 S
63   M. Gendron
(private entrant)
  Marcel Gendron
  Jean Vinatier
Renault 4CV Renault 760cc S4 32 Electrics
54 S
27   Mme Y. Simon
(private entrant)
  Yvonne Simon
  Michel Kasse
Ferrari 166 MM Coupé Ferrari 2.0L V12 25 Out of fuel
55 S
60   Ecurie Verte   Emmanuel Baboin
  Pierre Gay
Simca Six Spéciale Simca 580cc S4 20 Out of fuel
56 S
34   Automobiles Gordini   André Simon
  Aldo Gordini
Gordini T15S Simca 1491cc S4 14 Gearbox
57 S
66   A. Guillard
(private entrant)
  André Guillard
  Roger Carron
Simca Huit Spéciale Simca 1087cc S4 13 Engine
58 S
20   Aston Martin Ltd.   Eric Thompson
  John Gordon
Aston Martin DB2 Aston Martin 2.6L S6 8 Engine
59 S
59   Automobiles Deutsch et Bonnet   Georges Guyot
  Pierre Chaussat
DB Sport Panhard 611cc Flat-2 6 Accident
60 S
9   Ecurie Lutetia   Gaston Serraud
  André de Guelfi
Delahaye 175S Delahaye 4.5L S6 0 Battery

16th Rudge-Whitworth Biennial Cup (1949/1950) edit

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Score
1 S
52   Établissements Monopole   Jean de Montrémy
  Jean Hémard
Monopole X84 1.276
2 S
30   H.J. Aldington
(private entrant)
  Richard Stoop
  T.A.S.O. "Donald" Mathieson
Frazer Nash Milla Miglia 1.246
3 S
51   Rudý Letov Letnany   Maurice Gatsonides
  Henk Hoogeven
Aero Minor 750 1.221
4 S
55   A. Lachaize
(private entrant)
  Auguste Lachaize
  Albert Debille
Panhard Dyna X84 Sport 1.195

Statistics edit

  • Fastest Lap in practice – Raymond Sommer, #25 Ferrari 195 S – 5:00, 161.90 km/h (100.60 mph) [18]
  • Fastest Lap – Louis Rosier  #5 Talbot-Lago T26C GS Biplace – 4:53.5, 165.49 km/h (102.83 mph)
  • Winning Distance – 3465.12 km (2153.12 miles)
  • Winner’s Average Speed – 144.38 km/h (89.72 mph)

Trophy winners edit

  • 16th Rudge-Whitworth Biennial Cup – #52 Pierre Hérnard / Jean de Montrémy
  • Index of Performance – #19 Abecassis / Macklin & #52 Hérnard / de Montrémy (tied)

Notes edit

  1. ^ Laban 2001, p. 104.
  2. ^ a b Spurring 2011, p. 54.
  3. ^ a b Spurring 2011, p. 53.
  4. ^ Clausager 1982, p. 79
  5. ^ Laban 2001, p .105.
  6. ^ a b Spurring 2011, p. 64.
  7. ^ a b Laban 2001, p. 106.
  8. ^ Spurring 2011, p. 62.
  9. ^ a b Clausager 1982, p. 80
  10. ^ Spurring 2011, p. 70.
  11. ^ a b Motor 1950.
  12. ^ a b c Road & Track 1950.
  13. ^ Autocar 1950.
  14. ^ a b Spurring 2011, p. 54.
  15. ^ Spurring 2011, p. 56.
  16. ^ a b c Moity 1974, p. 42.
  17. ^ The Motor 1951, p. 179.
  18. ^ Spurring 2011, p. 375.

References edit

  • Spurring, Quentin (2011) Le Mans 1949-59 Sherborne, Dorset: Evro Publishing ISBN 978-1-84425-537-5
  • Clausager, Anders (1982) Le Mans London: Arthur Barker Ltd ISBN 0-213-16846-4
  • Laban, Brian (2001) Le Mans 24 Hours London: Virgin Books ISBN 1-85227-971-0
  • Moity, Christian (1974) The Le Mans 24 Hour Race 1949-1973 Radnor, Pennsylvania: Chilton Book Co ISBN 0-8019-6290-0
  • Pomeroy & Walkerley - editors (1951) The Motor Year Book 1951 London: Temple Press ISBN 1-85520-357X
  • Clarke, R.M. - editor (1997) Le Mans 'The Jaguar Years 1949-1957' Cobham, Surrey: Brooklands Books ISBN 1-85520-357X – republishing the original reports from ‘’The Motor’’ and ‘’Autocar’’ of June/July 1950, and ‘’Road & Track’’ (Sept ‘50)

External links edit

  • Racing Sports Cars – Le Mans 24 Hours 1950 entries, results, technical detail. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  • Le Mans History – Le Mans History, hour-by-hour (incl. pictures, YouTube links). Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  • formula2.se – Le Mans 1950 results & reserve entries, as archived at web.archive.org